Prior to founding Buddey, Benjamen Goh was a full-time banker and during his free time, he would help his performing arts friends look for suitable gigs for them to showcase their talents.
After spending much time with them, he learnt that there were a great set of challenges in obtaining gigs. With it being a competitive market coupled with their strict personal budgets, there weren’t many opportunities available for local talents.
While waiting for the opportunity to perform at events, the artists explored the idea of street performances in looking for alternative methods to sustain their livelihood.
However, this new initiative did not produce the expected results as the artists experienced challenges finding spaces to perform on the streets.
Additionally, there were limited suitable spaces available for busking, and even if they did manage to find one, it would have been a tedious process to obtain altogether.
When Benjamen met Kit, an ex-colleague from his banking days, the duo had an interesting conversation in which they discussed the issues local artists were facing. Naturally, the conversation then pivoted to a solution for these issues.
Thus, Buddey was founded in January 2020 with a few missions:
- To find spaces for street performances;
- To provide a transparent platform that is free from bias;
- To give back control to the local talents.
Buddying with the three buddies
Buddey is the brand’s trade name, while the app is called Buddey Talent, and Buskers Pod is the location that buskers use for busking (of which there are several).
“Buddey digitalised the process of finding spaces and allowed for talents to be in full control of when, where, and how long they would prefer to be busking at a certain space,” explained Benjamen.
In order to start using Buskers Pods, artists just need to download the Buddey Talent app on their devices. It will then direct them through a simple registration process where they will provide basic details about themselves. Then, they’re all set to go.
Buddey is very clear on its roles, rules, and platform responsibility, which is to mainly work on the activation of the busking spaces and make improvements to its platform’s system.
Artists can then manage their own usage of the space that was booked within the predetermined time frames on the app. The Buddey team does not interfere once the slot and space have been booked by the artist. This way, mutual trust is formed where the artist’s intention of booking a space is to fully utilise it by performing.
Additionally, the term binds artists to the three-strike rule (good, alert, and suspended). If there is any complaint about the artist’s conduct, then their account status would be updated accordingly.
For instance, accounts that are placed under “alert” are restricted from using certain Buskers Pods that find the artist’s behaviour to be “disturbing” to their environment.
However, artists can still proceed to use other busking spaces that are open to welcoming them. If there are any unsolvable behaviours, the artist’s account will be marked as “suspended” and all access to the platform will be blocked.
Hopping on the bus(k)
In an overview, more local artists are embracing the idea of street performances. Some perform to showcase their talent and in return, they receive kind support in terms of tips or donations.
The remaining percentage of performers busk in order to gain exposure and to learn the trick and trade.
“As we understand from public sources, there are at least 30,000 talents around Malaysia that are currently engaging in busking activity,” shared Benjamen.
The Buddey platform alone serves close to 1,000 talents. Benjamen claims that the platform has been well-received by artists ranging from diverse backgrounds and cultures, with some being students and others, working adults. Other than able-bodied performers, Buddey has also seen some artists from the blind community utilising its app.
Now, Buddey even has the support of DBKL. In wanting to show its support for the busking community in Malaysia, the council offered government premises as “alternative” venues for buskers to perform. They include the Urban Transformation Centres (UTC) and food courts managed by the city hall.
Benjamen shared that DBKL recognised buskers had lost their main source of income which was usually garnered from entertainment events during the MCO in 2020 and 2021. Hence, this initiative was to assist buskers in making ends meet.
For Buddey to ensure the platform continues to support its operations and provide available spaces for buskers, it charges an hourly rate according to artists’ usage.
Artists are given the flexibility of booking a minimum of one hour to however long they require for their performances. This is, of course, subject to the availability of the space.
Currently, the rate ranges from RM5 to RM11 per hour depending on the location and it has remained consistent throughout the duration of their operations since 2020.
The rate is listed on the booking information provided on the Buddey Talent app when artists proceed to book the intended space for their performances.
They are also given the choice of booking spaces through the app on the spot, if they choose to view the actual location first before booking the space.
“We are very transparent with the costs, there are no hidden charges or any advance payment required,” explained Benjamen.
Being a buddy through Buddey
Artists are required to bring their own set of equipment for their performances as it is difficult for Buddey to provide a set of equipment that fits all talents’ needs at their individual gigs.
“Some talents, as we heard, even got noticed at sites and went on to secure gigs from their busking session,” shared Benjamen.
Sometimes, event organisers would reach out to Buddey and inquire about hiring artists to perform at the spaces.
However, at the moment, Buddey refers them directly to the artists and lets them decide for themselves if they are interested in partnering with the hiring agencies.
In order to broaden their horizon, Buddey is working on expanding to different locations around Malaysia. There are currently about 40 Buskers Pods available within the Klang Valley and in Penang.
Besides providing spaces for artists to perform at, Buddey has plans to launch another service which complements the artists’ experiences, though they couldn’t share much more on that yet.
Now his full-time job, Benjamen’s long-term goal through Buddy Talent is to enable artists to find jobs within the performing arts and entertainment industry.
“Overall, we wish to provide a great service that supports the artists’ growth in the performing arts and entertainment industry and to show our commitment to our Buddey platform supporters that place their trust in us,” he summed up.
Featured Image Credit: Buddey