I love music. It’s the one art form I consume the most, by a mile. I could not have picked a better time to be alive as a music lover. Streaming has put millions of songs from all across the world in my ear. This is nuts and I’m old enough to remember when this wasn’t the case and so I truly appreciate it.
Picking a streaming platform can be tricky depending on what you listen to. I listen to pretty much everything and have been a Spotify user for years now. I’m happy with my choice but Spotify is a bit thin on the Zimbabwean music front.
Deezer has a better collection. However, they recently ended the free version of Deezer in Zimbabwe and I’m not paying $10.99 a month. I already pay $3 for Spotify, I’m not made of money.
Why am I looking to these services when there is a local solution? Buddie Beatz has been in the space for years now and looks to scratch that Zimbabwean music itch. I can’t be the only one with that itch and so I’m curious to find out how successful Buddie Beatz has been.
Buddie Beatz numbers
There are now over 60,000 songs and 6000 artists on the Buddie Beatz platform. That doesn’t sound like much when Spotify boasts over 70 million but we aren’t looking to replace Spotify with Buddie Beatz. They can corner that Zim music niche and we’ll be happy campers.
I’ve been checking out the Buddie Beatz Music Android app. I couldn’t help noticing that when we wrote about Buddie Beatz back in early 2020 they had 10,000 downloads and in late August 2022 nothing has changed.
Econet reported that they had 280,000 Buddie Beatz customers back in 2019 and if that’s accurate then Zimbos do share apps via ShareIt like no man’s business. I don’t imagine it’s that. I think when they shared that high figure they were including those who set custom ringtones.
The app looks to have peaked at around 10,000 installs on the Play Store. My guess is that the music streaming bit of Buddie Beatz has not really been growing.
Looking at the catalogue I find some of the stuff I miss on Spotify. I’m listening to Godobori by Dereck Mpofu as I write this and loving it.
That’s good but is it ZW$139.94 per month good? That’s around 20 cents a month by the way. You will have to see if the catalogue makes sense for you.
Econet says Buddie Beatz has over 2 million cumulative downloads to date. I’m not sure what they really mean by that. What I know is that Buddies Beatz means two things – the music app and the caller ring back tone service.
The platform has been around since 2012 and users have been able to ‘purchase and download songs’ since then. I have not kept up with the goings on in Buddie Beatz land but it used to be that it cost a dollar a song back when we exclusively used foreign currency. Registration cost 20 cents.
It was more like iTunes but you didn’t even get to own the songs, you only got access for a month. If those are the downloads we are talking about then I am surprised that downloads have surpassed 2 million.
Today, with my 20 cent subscription I’m able to download songs for offline use. I hope those downloads are not counted in the 2 million downloads figure. That would be less impressive.
How much money are they making?
In any case, we’re looking at 2 million downloads in 10 years. That’s 200,000 a year on average. The best case scenario would be that each download corresponds with a US$1 payment. I would love to have made $2 million in 10 years but I don’t think it’s much in Buddie Beatz’s case.
Other platforms offer 70% to artists and keep 30% for themselves. So, whatever Buddie Beatz’s cut is, it can’t be that much higher than US$600,000 in 10 years. Or $60,000 a year. That’s chump change to a company like Econet.
The musicians are not getting much either. We are talking about around $1,4m in 10 years shared by 6000 artists. That’s $233 per artist in 10 years or $23 if we worked with an equal split.
I don’t imagine the situation improves much if we add subscription revenue. The Buddie Beatz platform has not been a money making exercise yet.
Then there’s the app
There’s no sugarcoating it, the app is a mess. You could find something to praise about it if someone held a gun to your head. However, I can’t think of what you would say.
You could forgive the homepage’s design but what will baffle you is the album/playlist page.
When it comes to UI I’m not too particular. While I find the above repulsive, I understand that it may be perfectly okay for some.
As someone who listens to albums, not singles, what I cannot tolerate is haphazard song order. Artists deliberate over the order in which their songs should be listened to and Buddie Beatz doesn’t care about that. Albums are not listed in the order intended by the artists.
The search function is half baked. If I search for Alick Macheso for example, I get results categorised by tracks, albums, artists and genre. The albums category does not have any Macheso album and clicking on artist just brings up a haphazard list of all his songs.
Then there is the absolute lack of any curated playlists. Playlists are what have made apps like Spotify popular. That’s how we discover new music these days, through playlists that build from our likes.
I’ll give Buddie Beatz a pass though because even Spotify sucks when it comes to Zim music playlists, they just throw in any musician who is Zimbabwean into any Zim music playlist. The saving grace for Spotify is that fan-made Zim music playlists are good.
Buddie Beatz will just tell you the most played songs in the last 30 days and show you stuff that’s been added to the platform recently. I don’t find that compelling.
That said, there’s music on this platform that I cannot find anywhere else. I’m glad Buddie Beatz exists so I can listen to those rare tracks. I only wish the app better in every respect – looks, functionality etc.
Do you use Buddie Beatz?
What’s sad is that it doesn’t look like there is that many of us using Buddie Beatz. Meaning I can pat myself on the back for not pirating and supporting artists but am I really? When an artist makes hundreds of dollars in 10 years.
I do know that a good number of you set custom ringtones, we hear your terrible music when we call you. Is that the extent of your Buddie Beatz usage?
If you’re not using Buddie Beatz where do you get your local music fix? Boomplay? YouTube? Do let us know in the comments below.