I love music. It is the art form that I consume the most, by far. I couldn’t have picked a better time to be alive as a music lover. Streaming has put millions of songs from all over the world in my ear. This is crazy and I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t so I really appreciate it.
Choosing a streaming platform can be tricky depending on what you listen to. I listen to almost everything and have been a Spotify user for years. I’m happy with my choice, but Spotify is a bit lacking on the Zimbabwean music front.
Deezer has a better collection. However, they recently canceled 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.
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Why am I looking for these services when there is a local solution? Buddie Beatz has been in the space for years and is looking to satisfy that Zimbabwean music itch. I can’t be the only one with that itch and I’m curious how successful Buddie Beatz has been.
Buddie Beatz Numbers
There are now over 60,000 songs and 6,000 artists on the Buddie Beatz platform. That doesn’t sound like much when Spotify boasts over 70 million, but we’re not looking to replace Spotify with Buddie Beatz. They can hog that Zim music niche and we’ll be happy campers.
I have been reviewing the Buddie Beatz Music app for Android. I couldn’t help but notice that when we wrote about Buddie Beatz in early 2020, they had 10,000 downloads and by the end of August 2022 nothing had changed.
Econet reported that they had 280,000 Buddie Beatz customers in 2019, and if that’s true, Zimbos is sharing apps through ShareIt like no other. I can’t imagine that it is. I think when they shared that high figure, they included those who set custom ringtones.
The app appears to have peaked at around 10,000 installs on the Play Store. My guess is that the Buddie Beatz music streaming bit hasn’t really been growing.
Looking at the catalog I find some of the things I miss in Spotify. I’m listening to Godobori by Dereck Mpofu as I write this and I’m loving it.
That’s good, but is ZW$139.94 per month good? That’s about 20 cents a month by the way. You’ll have to see if the catalog makes sense to you.
Econet says that 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 stands for two things: music app and ringback tone service.
The platform has been around since 2012 and users have been able to “buy and download songs” ever since. I haven’t kept up with what’s going on in Buddie Beatz land, but it used to cost a dollar a song when we used exclusively foreign currency. Registration costs 20 cents.
It was more like iTunes, but you couldn’t even have the songs, you only had access for a month. If those are the downloads we’re talking about, I’m surprised the downloads have surpassed 2 million.
Today, with my 20 cent subscription, I can download songs for offline use. I hope those downloads are not counted in the figure of 2 million downloads. That would be less impressive.
How much money are they making?
In any case, we are facing 2 million downloads in 10 years. That’s 200,000 a year on average. The best case scenario would be that each download corresponds to a payment of US$1. I’d love to have made $2 million in 10 years, but I don’t think that’s a lot for Buddie Beatz.
Other platforms offer 70% to artists and keep 30%. So whatever Buddie Beatz’s share is, it can’t be much higher than $600,000 over 10 years. Or $60,000 a year. That’s chump change for a company like Econet.
Musicians aren’t getting much either. We’re talking about $1.4 million over 10 years shared by 6,000 artists. That’s $233 per artist over 10 years or $23 if we work with an equal split.
I don’t imagine that the situation will improve much if we add the subscription income. The Buddie Beatz platform has yet to be an exercise in making money.
Then there’s the app
There is no way to sugarcoat it, the app is a mess. You might find something to praise if someone pointed a gun at your head. I can’t think of what you would say though.
You could forgive the layout of the home page, but what will throw you off is the album/playlist page.
When it comes to the user interface, I’m not too particular. While I find the above repulsive, I understand that it may be perfectly fine for some.
As someone who listens to albums, not singles, what I can’t tolerate is the random order of the songs. Artists deliberate about the order in which their songs should be heard, and Buddie Beatz doesn’t care about that. The albums are not listed in the order intended by the artists.
The search function is half done. If I search for Alick Macheso for example, I get results categorized by tracks, albums, artists, and genre. The albums category doesn’t have any Macheso albums and clicking on the artist just brings up an unordered list of all songs from it.
Then there’s the complete lack of curated playlists. Playlists are what have made apps like Spotify popular. That’s how we discover new music these days, through playlists that are built around our tastes.
I’ll give Buddie Beatz a pass though because even Spotify sucks when it comes to Zim music playlists, they just include any musician who is Zimbabwean on any Zim music playlist. The saving grace for Spotify is that Zim’s fan-made music playlists are good.
Buddie Beatz will only tell you the most played songs in the last 30 days and show you things that were added to the platform recently. I don’t find it convincing.
That said, there is music on this platform that I can’t find anywhere else. I’m glad Buddie Beatz exists so I can listen to those rare tracks. I just wish the app was better in all aspects: appearance, functionality, etc.
Do you use Buddie Beatz?
The sad thing is that not many of us seem to use Buddie Beatz. Which means I can pat myself on the back for not hacking and supporting artists, but am I really? When an artist earns hundreds of dollars in 10 years.
I know many of you set custom ringtones, we hear your terrible music when we call you. Is that the extent of your use of Buddie Beatz?
If you’re not using Buddie Beatz, where do you get your local music fix? Boomplay? Youtube? Let us know in the comments below.
Local streaming service Buddie Beatz had already registered 280,000 customers as of August 2019
Buddie Beatz Review: What You See Isn’t Always What You Get