For creatives, the world is now their oyster. Independent content creation has now become a money-earner as the tech-savvy create written text, drawings, photographs, videos and audio files for sale or to attract paying sponsors.
More than 50 per cent of Kenya’s population is under 25 and this is the group that is expected to drive the technological revolution, including in media spaces.
In Nairobi, Baraza Media Lab identified a gap and is now supporting the creatives.
The lab offers an experimental space for media startups and individuals seeking to navigate the largely unexplored world of new-age media.
“Baraza Media Lab is a co-creation hub for media practitioners and creators in Kenya. Most practitioners work in their silos and never get a chance to come together. This lab offers them a sense of community,” says Lisa Muchangi, marketing, and communications manager at the lab.
The facility was set up in December 2019 as a product of research dubbed ‘The State of the Media Ecosystem in Kenya’.
The major findings in the report that gave rise to the venture were the high cost of creating podcasts and the inaccessibility of facilities, especially for freelance creators, as well as the lack of community budding.
The lab has an incubator, which Ms Muchangi says has nurtured several media-related business ideas.
“It’s an all-inclusive podcasting space. So let’s say, you’re interested in starting a podcast, say about football commentary and you don’t know anything about the technical side of recording podcasts.
All you need to do is come up with content and come with your guests and then we do everything else for you. So we handle the technical side,” she says.
People pay between Sh6,000 and Sh12,000 a year, depending on whether one works in mainstream media or is a student.
“You can come and work, you can shoot from here, do your recordings from here. It saves a lot of people the cost because that’s one thing that kept coming up when we were doing the research,” says Ms Muchangi.
Besides offering working space, such podcasting hubs also organise hackathons as well as industrial conferences with global peers.
There has been an increase in the number of organisations that have opened their recording studios to paying clients.
A few years ago, Myra Maloba and her partner Sammy Njuguna launched DGi-Brandem on Nairobi’s Baricho Road.
The multimillion-shilling investment has two music recording studios, an editing suite, video and photography rooms, a band rehearsal space, and a make-up studio.
They have a podcasting studio where clients pay Sh2,500 per hour. At the podcast studio, the walls are soundproof, it has three microphones and cosy seats.
“We invested in the podcast room because audio is the future. Content creators and consumers are moving to audio not only because it’s affordable but also practical,” she said in a past interview.
“We want to take the hustle out of creating. All a creative has to do is show up with their content and create,” she says.
Another one that is offering a podcast-making studio is Kofisi, the flexible workspace provider.
Georgia Webber, head of content at Kofisi says the podcast studio is booked for 20 sessions a month.
They have three regular clients and the rest who use the space are members and external clients.
“We usually have an additional 10-20 hours a month booked for other Kofisi workspaces, which are used for filming and production work by, for example, ManTalk, Just Ivy, Caroline Mutoko, KTN’s Laban Cliff Onsario,” he says.
“We are seeing an increase in using our smaller meeting rooms and communal spaces on social media for creating reels and content. Our spaces have also been used as film locations for larger budget TV adverts regularly.”
Digital content is driving business growth and investors in recording studios are upbeat.
“We will continue to create spaces to supply demand,” says Mr Webber.
Most recording studios also have networks with content distributors, so they guide the creators in reaching the right audience.
Baraza Media Lab, built by a group of investors, has about 200 registered members and a team of 15 workers.
“The team at Fumbua is involved in fact-checking and training journalists on how to approach and tackle misinformation, especially on platforms like WhatsApp.
“They were pretty active during the election season because that is the time misinformation was rampant,” says Ms Muchangi.