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Does every song qualify to be a ‘hit’? What is a ‘hit’ anyway?

Story Highlights

  • The biggest challenge in Uganda is that we do not have official music charts.
  • Caller Tunes is the only platform with data which is 100% Ugandan
  • The most downloaded song on MTN Caller Tunes is not even on the artiste’s YouTube Channel!

It has been quite a long time since I’ve been away. I have had some personal challenges but like Bobi Wine said in his latest song; Osobola, I have soldiered through. It was also during this sabbatical that Big Tril bounced back with Parte After Parte. The song has dominated playlists on radio, television, and hangouts.

Every artiste will call their song a hit. Try and hold a debate with a music fan about this, they will shut you down with uncalled for claims branding you a hater. They are not yet willing to learn something new but rather hear/listen to respond; not to understand.

The ‘hit status’ debate has been around for a while now. Radio and television hosts, and DJs are supposed to educate their audiences about this but they instead mislead them. Last Saturday, we had a lengthy debate in a WhatsApp group about what qualifies a song to be hit. Many insisted that as long as a song is dominating airwaves and dance floors, then it is a hit. We really need to understand what a ‘hit’ is.

What is a ‘hit’?

A hit song, also known as a hit record or hit single, is a recorded song or instrumental that becomes broadly popular or well-known. Although hit song means any widely played or big-selling song, the specific term hit record usually refers to a single that has appeared in an official music chart through repeated radio airplay or significant commercial sales.


The keywords to note are “official music chart”, “repeated radio airplay”, and “significant commercial sales.” These are what officially makes a song a hit.


Don’t we have this in Uganda?

The biggest challenge in Uganda is that we do not have official music charts. All that we have are charts by independent broadcast stations, print media like newspapers, and entertainment websites/blogs. Many of these chart compilations are by individual minds who do not have a defined data source.

Apple’s iTunes. (ZDNET)

Secondly, Ugandans do not consume music on streaming platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, et al. Most Ugandan music consumers mainly watch YouTube and funnily, they watch half the video and move on to the next. This is so because they need to get the most out of their expensive data bundles.

As it is, we do not have credible data sources to identify what a hit is on the Uganda music scene. This is where Caller Tune sales come in and also factor in a small percentage of YouTube views.

Just so you know, Caller Tunes is the only platform with data which is 100% Ugandan. Eyo reality. No one can activate a Ugandan Caller Tune without a Ugandan SIM Card. This, for me as a Data Analyst, is where I make a stand about all this. I can neither base my judgment on broadcast airplay that is biased, charts compiled by one person, nor YouTube views that do not give me Geographical location extracts.

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Caller Tunes? Really?

The thing about Caller Tunes that makes it a major parameter is this; a Ugandan will spend UGX700 to directly buy a song that lasts 30 days as their Caller Tune. This means they actually want this song so bad and want it to be listened to by the people calling them.


“A hit in Uganda is based on the response from the public. Once the song gets high demand from the public, then it’s definitely a hit,” says music producer Diggy Bauer. My alternative view of this is that we have had so many songs that trended but did not make commercial sales. People danced to Fik Fameica’s Kutama in nightspots but never wanted to be associated to or with it during the day. You can’t call this a hit!

To bring this into perspective, let us look at some data from MTN Uganda, the biggest telecom in Uganda. These, according to their extracts, are the 7 most downloaded songs of all-time on Caller Tunes.

  1. Mukama Wanjagala, Judith Babirye
  2. Sweet Love, John Blaq ft. Vinka
  3. Obubadi, John Blaq
  4. Kirooto Kyange, Maureen Nantume
  5. Mama Bulamu, John Blaq
  6. Tukwatagane, John Blaq
  7. Beera Nange, Sheebah

The most downloaded song on MTN Caller Tunes is not even on the artiste’s YouTube Channel! Instead, it appears on Promoters’ channels racking in a total of not more than 200,000 views! We have songs that have hit over a million views but do not appear on this MTN Caller Tunes ranking. I hope you see the decision distance here now.

John Blaq (GOSSIP247)

I know many will question John Blaq and Vinka’s Sweet Love being at #2. Numbers do not lie. A song might be popular on radio and television, gets played in top hangouts but that is where it ends. People enjoy the song but won’t spend a shilling on it. This also applies to other products; people will go crazy about your product, talk about it but won’t buy it.

Oh. Okay!

To me, this is what should ultimately define a hit song in the Ugandan context; people should actually consume it. It must fetch in Caller Tune sales, as the primary data point, before looking at the other aspects that should qualify it as a hit.

I am pretty sure there are many people out there who have an alternative view of what a hit is and what it isn’t in Uganda. Since, in my profession, we don’t work based on assumptions but rather data and information, I’d love to read your comments. After all, we are all here to learn a thing or two for our personal growth.

I remain yours truly Don Andrea. To set the record straight, these are just my opinions, not those of Skizar. See you soon.

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Don Andrea

Don Andrea is a journalist and data analyst with a passion for music and entertainment. "Opinions are mine, comments are yours." - Don Andrea.

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