This whole interview people from within the guitar and music industry thing is still new to me. Luckily the people I’ve approached so far have been very welcoming and accommodating of my six (plus one) questions. As this series is a first for me, I thought it would be wise to interview someone familiar with firsts. So today’s interview is with BeatBuddy—the world’s first guitar pedal drum machine. I’m glad I managed to snare these great responses.
I appreciate any opportunity for a musical pun. Stick around, the questions begin … now!
Six scary questions
- How did you first come up with the idea to build a drum machine in a foot pedal that a guitarist could activate with a simple stomp?
Because I was jamming and wanted one! I searched everywhere and couldn’t find a drum machine that enabled hands-free easy control of a beat. All the drum machines were either complicated table-top devices that are difficult, if not impossible, to control while jamming or are loopers that grant no control of a single repetitive beat loop — no fills, no rhythm changes, no accent hits, no pause/unpause feature, and of course no computer interface. I just simply had to make it.
- How long did it take to get the BeatBuddy from concept to prototype?
About two years. I was constantly on online forums discussing features people wanted and updating them on where we were in development. If there’s one piece of advice I can give to future inventors, it’s this: listen to your customers. We were constantly modifying the BeatBuddy until we were satisfied that you could fully control the beat with your foot right out of the box without even needing to read an instruction manual.
- How long did it take to get all of the required drum parts recorded to fill the BeatBuddy?
The BeatBuddy can hold up to 3.2 million songs and up to 320 drum sets (on a 32 GB SD card) — and an infinite number more can be stored on your computer or in the cloud, so we will never “fill” the BeatBuddy. We intend to be constantly releasing new drum beats and drum sets to be downloaded from our website. We expect to be constantly creating more content.
How long does it take to record all the required drum parts for a single drum set? A very long time (we don’t disturb Goran when he’s in his “groove”). The reason it takes so long is because we take great care to record as many dynamic levels as possible. When you hit a drum harder, it’s not the same tone only louder, but it actually gives a different range of frequencies. For the BeatBuddy to actually sound like real drums, we have to record as many dynamic levels as possible. And after the recording, we tweek the EQ and various other acoustic properties to make it sound perfect.
- What has the feedback been like from people lucky enough to try the prototype/s of the BeatBuddy?
Amazing! When we first tell them about it, they’re usually kind of surprised that it doesn’t already exist. Then, as they start using it, they notice two things: 1) just how much control they have over the beat, and 2) how great the drums sound. Some people have to use the software before they truly realize the potential the BeatBuddy has. We’re always then asked the final question: Where can I get this and how much does it cost? We always let them know that the retail release will be in August for $350, but if they pre-order before Feb. 4 via our Indiegogo campaign, they can get it for $199 delivered in April.
- In this Internet age, how difficult was it to keep the BeatBuddy a secret until you were ready to launch?
Our original rough demo video with an older prototype leaked before we were ready to announce it, but the response was so incredibly positive that we’re glad it happened. We got some great suggestions for improvements because of it.
- To say that your indiegogo campaign has been successful is probably like saying Metallica is a successful heavy metal band. Were you ready for the response you received to your campaign?
Everyone always told us that this was a great idea (Gizmodo even called it “genius”), but we never expected to be fully funded in a mere 20 hours and now to be almost 3 times past our funding goal with still two weeks to go in our Indiegogo campaign. It’s incredibly encouraging to see how enthusiastic everyone is about the BeatBuddy.
One not-so scary question
- What’s in the not-so-distant future for BeatBuddy and its customers?
Once we deliver our Indiegogo supporters their BeatBuddies, we will host an online forum where users can share the beats and drum sets they’ve created. This way, in addition to the new content we release, there will be a world of user-generated content, making the BeatBuddy not just a drum machine pedal, but a platform. We’re also talking with some famous drummers who are very interested in creating content for the BeatBuddy — that will cost a bit, but we feel it will be worth it and very cool.
Many thanks to BeatBuddy for participating in this new article series of mine. I was incredibly excited when I first discovered the indiegogo campaign. I look forward to seeing these little devices on stages locally. I’m sure that won’t be far away.