Last year the guys at Beatport did a piece called “Becoming One – Anatomy of a #1 hit”. This showed how the Swedish House Mafia marketed their release “One” and the ensuing sales and fame the release achieved. It was an interesting piece, but as a case study it isnt entirely useful seen as it was so unique. Yes, it was the first release under the name Swedish House Mafia, but that name had been used for years and the group comprises of three of the best known producers in house music. So, although I enjoyed the article, it doesnt really tell us what the playing field of selling tracks is like for those of us without over a quarter of a million fans on social networks (no doubt considerably more in 2011).
Here I’ve outlined a recent release of mine on Vertical Lift Records that did quite well, and because I have a few statistics from Beatport’s Baseware software (if your label has to go via a distributor to get on Beatport then they may not have access to this information). Hopefully this information will enlighten you a little as to what Beatport sales are like for general releases.
The release came out on March 15th and Beatport chose it for their progressive house picks of the week and a genre page banner. Getting a banner is down to all the Beatport label reps picking their favourite tracks of the week that they have been sent for consideration, so it is worth finding out what they like! All the Beatport banners change on Tuesday, so the release of Press Play coincided with the bonus promotion from Beatport. In the Beatport article on One they mention that getting a banner is not nearly as important as promotion, and this is true – but only if your reliable social media network fan base is far greater than Beatport traffic. For the majority of artists and labels a banner is a BIG help.
On the graph of sales you can see that the sales spike a couple of days after release and then decline sharply over the weekend. Sales continue to be above background level for a few days once the genre page banner was removed (22nd March) and are now back to background levels after two weeks.
The bar chart shows the number of sales for each release. The label actually released “Remember The Good Times” and “I’m In Love” on the 15th too, so we can see that the banner actually boosted sales by well over double – assuming all releases are equally good (or I should say equally appealing to the audience).
As far as I know the track wasnt included in any DJ chart so these figures represent the impact of having a Beatport banner alone – promotion was very similar for all releases. There will be extra sales from buyers that have checked other releases on the label too, so other release sales will have been boosted by the banner too.
So, Beatport banners work, and in our case at least double sales. I should mention we didnt hit the top 20 with this release, so banners wont guarantee you chart placement. For that I think it comes down to peer approval – you need the track to be in the DJs charts on Beatport and Resident Advisor. You need the track to be in their podcasts and DJ sets. And who’s tracks do DJs chart? Their own, their friends’, and ones they really love. This is where the big sales come from, so I advise all labels and producers to work that angle.
SHM’s success was sealed when they had “One” aired on shows like Pete Tong’s Radio 1 Essential Selection, and playing it to sell out gigs the world over (that get filmed and youtubed by fans). And dont underestimate the power of scarcity – hardly any other DJ had the track, and people didnt know the name or who it was by for a long time. This builds a buzz as every collector of vinyl (or human being for that matter) knows: people want what they cant have. Use that to your advantage.