Beatport -- a digital retailer specializing in electronica music -- was named in a lawsuit filed last week by a Denver nightclub owner, alleging anti-competitive practices.

Beatport co-founder/chairman Bradley Roulier is also the owner of the Denver nightclub Beta. In the lawsuit, rival nightclub owner Regas Christou charges him with using Beatport's influence within the electronic music industry to unfairly book exclusive live performances by famous DJs and bar them from performing at Christou's clubs.

"They've threatened DJs that if they play at the Church or Vinyl they will pull their songs off Beatport -- even that they will pull a DJ's entire label off Beatport," Christou said in a written statement. "And DJs have no choice but to go along because it's their financial life at stake."

Artists allegedly "coerced" in this way include DJ Rap, Deadmau5, Shasha and DJ Dan. The suit also names New York-based talent agency AM Only. It seeks $1 million in damages.

Contributing to the bad blood is the fact that Roulier once worked for Christou as a talent agent before leaving to start Beta in 2007. And Christou also assisted Roulier secure a loan used to start the Beatport service in 2003.

Christou is a controversial figure in the Denver community, as illustrated in this profile in the current issue of the Denver-based 5280 magazine in which he claims a "concentrated effort to ruin" him, citing the city, police and the press.

Beatport certainly is an influential distribution point for electronica music, profiled this summer in Billboard as being one of the few digital retailers turning a profit other than iTunes.

Update: "The claims against Beatport are unfounded and will be addressed by our attorneys through the proper channels and at the appropriate time," Beatport said in a statement. "As the suit is without merit, one can only guess what the motives are behind the claims."

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