I have been a loyal user of Apple Music since 2018 and it has been great. While it does have its shortcomings as compared to Spotify, it’s very reliable. As a reviewer, I always expected local artists to share their music on Apple Music. Guess what? Only a handful of artists do, which is a damn shame. I usually wondered what the deal was.
This is when I saw Boomplay recently during Tanasha Donna’s EP launch (which I’m yet to listen to). Developed by TECNO mobile, it has been targeting the African market and has been key to promoting local music.
At first, I wasn’t going to subscribe to another streaming platform given that my money is already with Apple Music. However, there was a freemium option so I decided to give it a try. After using the app for three days, here are my thoughts on BoomPlay Streaming platform.
I will be comparing it to Apple Music because that’s the service I’m currently using. This review would’ve been better if Spotify was also included because Boomplay shares a lot of similarities with it but alas, Kenya is unfortunate not to have access to the platform just yet. Great.
If I am to describe the quality in technical terms, it is inferior to that of Apple Music. Boomplay streams the songs at 128kbps while Apple Music streams at 256kbps. This won’t make any difference to you if you have standard earphones (which most people have). I could notice it because I own a pair of JBL T450BT headphones.
I did this by comparing several songs that were available on both platforms. In this instance, I sampled Naiboi’s club hit Usipime Mwanaume at the same phone volume. What I noticed is that Boomplay’s audio was louder than that of Apple Music.
Louder doesn’t mean good for me with my sensitive ears but I can understand they would try to compensate the quality for those with sub-par earphones.
Technically, it is inferior but no one will ever complain about it so it gets a pass.
Boomplay and Apple Music trade hefty blows in this round but the latter comes out on top. To begin with, Boomplay has all the local content you want. This means more people actually get to hear new music first from here. This makes sense because it has a freemium subscription which would attract more streams.
Apple Music lags behind in this scenario because Kenyan artists are giving it the cold shoulder. As a user, I’m offended because it’s not fun hopping around to listen to some songs. Looking at you Khaligraph Jones.
That’s as far as Boomplay will stretch its muscles. It falls flat when it comes to serving me with international music. Sure, they have deals with Universal Music Group and Warner Music but that’s about it. That means your favorite pop icons might be there. That’s not the same case with indie music as it is almost non-existent.
For example, I love House and EDM music. Let’s say I would want to listen to an underground DJ like VIVID who makes awesome house music. You will find his music on Apple Music but not on Boomplay.
This, however, doesn’t matter as much as the emphasis of this platform is on local content. International content is just but an added bonus.
My only gripe with the local content is that it is highly emphasized on Gengetone music and other big guys. Local indie guys are nowhere to be found here. The algorithm in the app only highlights the relevant artists, which can be a big blow to upcoming artists who also want that share of the streaming revenue.
Side note, you can get DJ Lyta’s mixes on Boomplay. Just saying.
Boomplay operates in a similar manner to Spotify. Its main attraction is the Freemium option which allows users to access all songs for free albeit those annoying ads in between songs, no offline downloads, and the inability to rewind the song at will as shown below.
Some songs can actually be downloaded but that seems like a deal struck between the platform and the artists so that’s nice. There is this new update that claimed that you can download more songs for free. As far as this statement goes, it is true for local songs but not for all international songs.
My listening experience had no ads whatsoever after five consecutive hours of playback so I wonder how the app was able to generate revenue. It also raises the question of how well artists are paid by the platform since they don’t openly disclose the rates.
Moving up to the Premium model which you pay $2 to unlock all those options that you couldn’t do in the Freemium option. I, personally, didn’t subscribe to it but I did like the fact that you could subscribe for a day or a week. This is great for someone like me who travels frequently. I could be streaming songs via wifi at home then subscribe to premium so as to download songs offline when travelling. Quite efficient in my opinion.
It’s a good idea on paper but I wouldn’t actually go through with it in real life. This is because my two years of adding songs to my Apple Music library would go to waste. Not to mention that 70% of my music is indie stuff so I would be going at a loss here. Apple gives you a three month trial at the beginning then you start paying $5 per month. I can almost guarantee you that you will start paying for it after the trial ends.
Boomplay has 62 million subscribers as compared to Apple’s 60 million subscribers. The difference here is that Apple Music subscribers are paying customers. My best bet would be 90% of Boomplay subscribers are using the Freemium option and I don’t blame them. You certainly don’t need the premium option for this app.
I won’t waste your time in this segment. They are trash. Most of the playlists curated by Boomplay seem like they were handpicked by someone who created them for the sake of doing it. Or perhaps he/she is being underpaid.
Some playlists just don’t make sense. When you say this is a chill playlist, I expect the theme of relaxation and calm to be experienced in all of those songs present in there. Boomplay doesn’t catch the memo here.
So, they have a playlist called Extravaganza, rightly named after Sauti Sol’s 2019 hit song. As expected, the first song is the Playlist title. Wonderful. Things take a 180 when Gengetone music starts playing. Now, in what world does Afro-pop music and Gengetone fit in one playlist? How?
Is it too much to ask for a consistent playlist Boomplay? You should hire your users who make way better playlists than you. Speaking of which, some users make some really cool playlists which I enjoyed.
I must say, it works as advertized. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much given the experience I had with Songa Music. At no point did the app crash or have some shaky audio quality. Everything worked as advertized.
What I loved the most is that they notify you of new music on your profile. That’s actually a nice feature to make you always come back to the platform. I did realize that I had to be in the app to see the notifications. Bummer.
I also noticed that the app logs me out of my account every now and then for no good reason. This issue might be limited to my experience, I don’t know.
Another unique feature is the comment section option where users can give their opinion about the songs. This is another useful feature for other users to see if they agree with other’s opinions and give valuable feedback to the artists. Again, this works like the YouTube comments section and you can never be too sure about what people say.
The app also has live lyrics (similar to Apple Music) which was impressive at first until I realized that they might be made by regular users. In Ethic’s song Thao, someone added their opinion in the live lyrics saying that Swat’s verse is trash. I genuinely burst out laughing at this. It’s a minor issue but funny as hell.
With all of these features included, I have not willingly gone back to Boomplay to listen to songs. Why? I really don’t want to. The first three days were obligatory so as to have a feel for it. I mean, it’s great but it hasn’t convinced me to stop paying for Apple Music.
This all boils down to my preference of music. I seriously have issues with local music because of their terrible replay value and it is not limited to Gengetone artists. Look at Otile Brown’s songs. They lose relevance in a month. It doesn’t make sense. We already forgot about Yes Bana after Suzanna dropped didn’t we?
Read More: SAUTI SOL ‘SUZANNA’ SINGLE REVIEW
Given that it’s biggest selling point is to be a platform for local music, I’m not that convinced as a casual user. As a reviewer, I am forced to use the Kenyan chart playlist for future articles so that means I won’t uninstall it.
If you are the kind of person who listens to songs that are trending right now, Boomplay is the right service for you. Avoid the premium option because you don’t want to be paying for a limited variety of music.