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So Toolroom have worked out a killer strategy for dominating the Beatport charts – bundle 20-40 tracks into a compilation and sell them for a reduced price.
(side note: supposedly this isn’t the first time they’ve employed ‘creative’ tactics to chart their tracks, crafty lot they are!)
If you look at their recent Miami sampler they were selling 40 tracks for $20 – that’s 50c per track instead of $1.99. The “Toolroom Selector” compilations slash prices to less than $1 a track too. From the artists’ perspective, this means about 15c-30c per track – assuming Toolroom gets the usual cut from Beatport, but I suspect they’re able to negotiate something better than the standard 60/40 split.
In these compilations they are often selling their back catalogue along with other licensed tracks, so the hefty price cut doesnt seem as crazy considering that. Bundling popular new and old tracks together from almost any label and selling them cheap under the Toolroom flag is a very clever marketing technique. Ok, they need to sell 2-4 times as many tracks to make the same money, but the added exposure and wow factor they get for dominating the charts with their Toolroom brand is certainly worth risking some profits for.
BUT, if you’re not on the Toolroom payroll then I can imagine this is pretty damn frustrating. Take a look at four of the genre charts…
A whopping 62% of the tracks are Toolroom (80% if you dont include deep house). Now, there are some in there that are great tracks fitting nicely into the genre (the Maya Jane Coles “Humming” that was licensed to Toolroom for example) but a lot of purists are arguing that the Toolroom stuff is not tech house, or techno, or progressive. This stuff wouldnt get dropped at any of the tech house events I go to (could you see Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler, or Martin Buttrich playing any of it?) and neither at a progressive Hernan Cattaneo or Digweed event. A disgruntled Darius Syrossian (of VIVa music) pointed out that if Toolroom hadnt released these compilations he would have been 5th in the Tech House charts instead of twenty-something – a bit annoying if you dont consider the Toolroom stuff to even be tech house.
So, what is it? It is obviously popular, and there was a lot of it around during Ultrafest in Miami this year. Well, rumour has it that Beatport will be starting a new genre soon for music such as this. The kind of tracks that are too melodic for tech house and techno, but too song-structured and thumping for progressive. And I think it is a damn good idea that will make a lot of people happy. Here’s a good example of a track that falls into this category:
With regards to the cut-price compilations I have no idea what will happen. Should a 50c track from a compilation be given the same weighting in the charts as a $1.99 release? I dont think so – the buyer has only invested quarter as much in it, so why should they count equally? Maybe a system where releases on a compilation that retail for less than 1$ each are worth half a sale when it comes to the charts? That would be easy enough to implement and would prevent the chart debacle we’re currently witnessing. Hats off to Toolroom, but I would imagine Beatport will put a stop to this soon.
So keep your eyes peeled for the new ‘Progno’ genre over the coming months. I’m sure this will spark celebrations for all the genre purists championing the underground sound, and a similar response from DJs who like the uplifting, techy, mainstage beats that are doing so well at the moment. Good times all round!
P.s. Anyone fancy hazarding a guess as to how many sales it takes to get into the Top Ten of the genre charts? Correct answer wins a prize! 😉