How Lavafoshi aims to disrupt the Maldivian music industry

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The Maldives is a small island nation with only a population of approximately 420,000 people. In contrast, the population of Colombo alone was over 2 million people in 2012. Yet, this tiny island nation has an active music industry with many talented musicians. However, due to the market being so tiny, musicians can only earn an income by playing live gigs or creating soundtracks. But one startup aims to disrupt and change the music industry of this tiny island nation. Say hello to Lavafoshi.

The origins of Lavafoshi

The roots of Lavafoshi lie inside another Maldivian startup called Kodefly. Born in 2011, Kodefly is a boutique design & development studio in the Maldives. The startup was founded by two young entrepreneurs, Ali Haris and Hussain Inad. Soon, the two young entrepreneurs had built a reputation of building complex solutions for some of the largest companies in the Maldives.

The Founders of Lavafoshi
The Founders of Lavafoshi

When Abdulla “Alho” Nazim – the co-founder of Skytours Maldives heard of Kodefly and their reputation, he hired them to develop a system. As they worked together, Haris found that he had technical skills and Alho had great ideas. Together, they wanted to build a truly disruptive Maldivian startup.

In 2016, while Alho was traveling and Haris was pursuing his higher studies in Sri Lanka, the two met at Park Street Mews. This was where they first discussed the idea of building an entertainment application. After many more discussions, they had laid out the blueprint to create a Video-On-Demand application in the Maldives. They would call it Lime VOD.

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How Lime VOD worked

In October 2016, Haris moved back to Male and the duo began working on their new venture.  But this new venture was sunk before it began. How? iFlix entered the Maldivian market and partnered with Dhiraagu, which is the largest telecom service provider in the Maldives.

And Lavafoshi is born

Haris and Alho saw that they didn’t have the funding or content to compete with iFlix. So they went back to the drawing board. They would spend weeks brainstorming ideas before they noticed that Maldives were avid music fans. And then they saw the problems faced by the Maldivian music industry.

People did use services like Gaana and Spotify. But neither service was easily accessible for Maldivian artists. So they decided to build a service which would help make the industry sustainable. And so they came up with the idea for a local music streaming service. This would be a streaming service that was exclusively for Maldivian music.

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From Reethi Lava to Lavafoshi

The service itself would make money through subscriptions and advertisements. Meanwhile, they would also pay artists a certain amount every time their songs were streamed. And to encourage original Dhivehi music, they would pay more for artists that published original songs on the new service. Initially, this music streaming service was called, Reethi Lava.

And so work on the began on building this music streaming service in December 2016. The duo then approached Mohamed Mirusan,  who was a mutual friend that joined them as a financial partner. A month later, the new year dawned with the team having finalized the initial designs. These designs were just a collection of mockups. But that was enough for them share with artists, close friends, and family members to get some feedback.

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Some of the initial designs for Lavafoshi

The team then shared these designs with artists, close friends, and family members to get some feedback. Much of it was positive and with this feedback, they began developing the app in February. As development began, the team expanded to include two developers, a designer, and a social media manager. Together, the team shared a space with Kodefly to make Lavafoshi a reality. Initially, the team was hoping to launch the app in June or July.

But they didn’t follow a strict schedule. And with each countless iteration, people kept sharing feedback and the app didn’t stop growing in complexity. As the app grew even more complex, Inad joined Lavafoshi as its creative director. Finally, the team decided, “Let’s just launch it!” On the 15th of August 2017, Lavafoshi was officially available on both Android and iOS.

The challenges Lavafoshi faces

Once they launched, Lavafoshi had to conquer a challenge. This challenge was Yonder Music, which entered the Maldivian market in August 2017. Just like iFlix, they too formed a partnership with Dhiraagu. Yet this time, the Lavafoshi team was confident enough to launch and take a risk.

They felt they had a solution that catered to the local market. And true enough they did. Soon after they launched, they had gathered an audience of 11,000 users. Today, they have an audience larger than Spotify does in the Maldives. The biggest highlight for the Lavafoshi team was when people started comparing Lavafoshi to Yonder Music.

Lavafoshi
Image credits: Yonder Music

Lavafoshi is putting up a good fight against Yonder Music. However, they still have another challenge that they need to conquer. That challenge is the poor internet. Haris elaborated on this saying, “If you get 5 Mbps now, you may not get it the next minute. It’s not a stable connection.”

It’s not a problem they can fix entirely because it’s an external problem. The only thing they can do is minimize the problem. And to minimize it they plan to implement local caching, prefetching, adaptive and progressive playback.

In case you’re lost, local caching refers to storing songs on the servers of ISP’s or telecoms to ensure that they’re loaded faster. Whereas if you’re already listening to a song in an album, prefetching refers to downloading the next song in the album before the current song ends. Finally, adaptive and progressive playback refers to adjusting the quality of the song in a manner similar to YouTube videos.

The Lavafoshi vision

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The artists supporting Lavafoshi (Image credits: Lavafoshi)

So what’s next for Lavafoshi? Evolution. Internally, the company aims to evolve into a fully automated business. One where AI handles all of its day to day activities. For the rest of the world, this startup aims to evolve from a music streaming service to a social network. A social network where anyone can listen to songs and share them with friends. So if you’re curious to try out Lavafoshi, you can download it now on both iOS and Android.

8 COMMENTS

  1. This it self is amazing but I don’t understand why is there no mentioning of one key founders who had worked very hard for lavafoshi to be where it is today ‘ MIRSHAM ‘ ! Seriously give due credit to people, that does not make you any smaller !!!!!

  2. While Yonder is just another generic streaming service, Lavafoshi is establishing itself an authentic local brand, helping and working with the artist community. As such , even though competition from a huge company will be tough, Lavafoshi is well positioned exploit the opportunities in the local entertainment industry and grow with the artists.

  3. great app and appreciate the passion for maldivian music.but on the business perspective i dont see any scope of future.catastrophic!!

  4. It seems this article had been written with the intention of developing a negative view towards Yonder Music. The fact that Miru had not been mentioned anywhere directly shows how ego centric the owners of Lavafoshi is. This article is an embarrassment for the free world.

  5. I don’t think Lavafoshi should be compared with Yonder Music. Comparatively Yonder Music has all the international English and Hindi Content while having a reasonably large Divehi Content Portfolio. As per what I know yonder offers a platform for local artists to perform at the international music seen which Lavafoshi does not provide.

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