Erykah Badu, in the  remake of Drake’s Hotline Bling, does this word sprint where she leaves a list of options  in her voicemail for imaginary callers, though, probably, drawn from past experiences. The caller is asked to choose an action based on their reason for calling. One is a derisively delivered put down to those who seek out her services for occasions she considers mundane for her skills;like  playing  at your 13 year old nephew’s birthday party. The whole EP that contains this as one of the songs, may be an anti-mobile phone manifesto, and therefore, the most improbable place to draw inspiration for writing a phone app piece.   However,  that part right there,  in a way, demonstrates a part in a musician’s and client’s life that an app called Fezah is working to smoothen out.

Fezah is an entertainment booking app that is playing at the mainstream live music events. However, based on some of the communication from some of the app’s team, especially its co-founder and CTO, Elijah Kitaka, they are into the private live market in a big way as well. Private live market is a sort of music marketing nerd reference to those private events whose organizers can afford to  pay artists to perform; be it birthday parties, weddings, traditional ceremonies, family celebrations or in house corporate events.

The focus is more on the experience, for both parties. Artists want a hassle free arrangement on top of being able to thrill their fans. Consumers want an easier way to engage artists, with an assurance of them showing up and doing their best.  Which is why the customers’ feedback is reflected on the musician ranking on the Fezah list. An artist’s position on the list is based on their reliability score,  given by the people who book the artist based on things like how well they keep time, whether they put up a good show, or,  whether they were polite(huh).

The rankings are part of a part  self-curation, the half of a strategy aimed at affording artists a chance to craft the image that they want put out. Artists create a profile, when they sign up, which, among other things shows what they charge for various events,  and share samples of their songs and videos.

It has never been easier to get access to an artist. A simple search based on your preference and budget, event you are hosting, will yield you an artist, or artists, whom you go ahead and request to book. The artist then receives a notification. If you cannot find the artist you want, or they have to cancel, Fezah will find you alternatives. Typically,  you should get a response within twenty four hours.

If there is a type of artist you are looking for but you do not have a particular artist in mind, then the broadcast feature will come in handy.  Here, you put in the genre, performance type, location of the event, the event type,  frequency of event, budget and the number of people attending. Artists who fit the profile will receive a notification.

Fezah is out to make money, by making artists more money; they take 10% cut from an artist’s earnings. It is hard for artists to make money from just selling music. If you look at sites like YouTube, you need shit loads of views to make money, which doesn’t work as well for artists from East Africa(and the larger Africa as well). Most artists from here make money from gigs.  Which is why Fezah foresees a time when they will be working with all the players in the live event industry.

In addition to the musicians, they are working on eventually having  DJs, spoken word artists, comedians, dancers, emcees…the whole shebang, on the platform.

Currently, the app is available in Uganda, where it was first launched, and Kenya. Some of the artists from the two countries that feature on the platform include Jua Cali, Parking Lot Grass, Maia Von Lekow, H@rt the Band, Songoma, Makadem, June Gachui, Iddi Achieng, The Beathogs, Brian Mugenyi , Michael Kitanda, Lilian Mbabazi among others.

This far, they have had good feels about the platform.  Although some of them are trying to adjust to having to wait till after the show to get paid- once a booking is confirmed, the client is expected to pay the full fee, which Fezah holds in escrow. The artists gets the money the next working day after the performance.

Other ways the platform seeks to add value to an artist’s career is by giving them regular feedback  based on the analytics report of the data collected.


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