It’s a strange scene when you look at the pie chart for track sales and one of the thirty slices takes up 97% of the pie. It begs a few questions:
1. Is it really worth giving distributors a cut of the label’s revenue to distribute to multiple stores when sending it to one would suffice?
2. How did Beatport come to account for this much of the pie?
3. Is that really a good thing?
I may go into more detail on this later, but for now a few thoughts…
Distributors are a bit of a relic from the days of having to physically get your records into hundreds of stores around the globe. They are useful online if you want to make sure your track is in all the online stores, but if you only sell a handful of copies from those stores is it worth the 10-15% cut they take? They now also serve a purpose to the stores with the ever increasing number of labels – in the case of Beatport many smaller labels are grouped together so that Beatport just deals with the distributor rather than the individual label (the labels have no designated contact at Beatport).
I think Beatport had two things going for it: design and exclusivity. Of all the music sites it is by far the best designed user interface, and for this reason i found myself returning there even though tracks cost more. The second, and most important, point is exclusivity deals. Busy DJs want to go record shopping once a week, not several times at several locations, this is why so few sales go direct through label’s websites. Once key labels gave Beatport exclusivity that meant DJs would head there by default so that they could get all the latest tracks in one place. This factor seems to even trump audio player seen as Beatport’s 2min sample is the most basic these days. I actually think they’ve consciously done that - how many times have you listened to a track and it cuts just before the drop? That leaves the listener at peak anticipation and more likely to hit the buy button.
Finally, is Beatport’s pie-hogging a good thing? I dont think so. Dont get me wrong, I like Beatport, but I dont like monopolies. And as online record stores crumble around us there is something disconcerting about virtually all sales going through one store. Beatport’s margins are pretty high already meaning less money for the label and for the artist (artists generally see about 20p of each track sold unless you’re selling large volumes and can negotiate). I think Beatport is still working on an old model based on the physical record store. I think there is a better way of getting music to the DJs, putting the quality labels in the foreground and rewarding the artists. I’m still developing the idea, but I think it will be soon time for a change.
Ok, time to stop talking and start listening. Here is a gorgeous mix of classic house and nu-disco sounds by the man who brought us Coma Cat… Tensnake. Enjoy it. 43m25s particularly tickles my loins, what a groove!