Beatport’s First Weeks as an SFX Company: Q&A With Matthew Adell

SFX announced its acquisition of Denver-based dance music hub Beatport – one of dance music’s original grassroots businesses – at the end of February. Since then, CEO Matthew Adell has forged deep relationships with his fellow SFX acquirees, like Dutch event producers ID&T, hoping to leverage Beatport’s 40 million users to develop SFX’s broader business, including cross-channel opportunities (including online, experiential, and mobile) for both marketers and fans.

We spoke with Adell after his discussion at IMS Engage with “You Are Not A Gadget” author Jaron Lanier (Adell’s pick), about the immediate future of the Beatport-ID&T alliance, and Beatport’s “non-purchasing customers,” who make up the majority of its audience.

You’re in the first 100 days of your new relationship with SFX. How’s it been?
Really exciting, really busy. It’s like a new job, a little bit. The team at SFX has a similar strategy that Beatport always had -- now we just have friends we can execute it with. And I’ve gotten to know the ID&T people in particular, and I adore them. [CEO] Duncan [Stutterheim] is just a genius. And so I’m excited about working with all these people I’m meeting.

Any changes right away? Anything that’s different immediately?
No, no, no. I mean, corporate-integration-type stuff, I’m sure there’s a lot of that to work out. But no, we’re really focused on continuing to please the DJ, and continuing to throw great events. Those are the two most important things now at the company and then integrating all those things and making them more valuable in time.

You and I have had a lot of similar conversations over the years, about your model of maintaining a price point and not being a loss leader in music. Not to say that’s moot, but are there different business problems you're attacking now through the lens of SFX? Are you looking at different things, bigger, smaller?
Different in some ways and the same in some ways. Beatport’s audience, our non-purchasing customer, the people who come a few times a month and use us like a media property to discover music and know what’s going on in the scene and connect with DJs – their numbers have been growing exponentially in the last two years. And our challenge has been how to please those people and engage those people, find out what it is maybe they are interested in buying, while still making sure we’re putting all our energy to pleasing the DJ. That was our challenge before. My anticipation is there’s going to be 10 times those many people by this time the end of next year, and now we have the opportunity to work with other people who touch those fans in a more intimate way by throwing a live event. And we just have a better opportunity of getting to know the fans, how they want to connect to the DJs. That's our job, connecting fans and DJs. And we’ll have more of that glue now.

Do you anticipate deploying any new analytics to figure out those behaviors, if they’re coming to the site and not buying? What sites are they going to after?
Absolutely. We ask people that all the time. Without invading people’s privacy, we have those kinds of analytics now. What we do know is that they engage in the social media and the websites of the live music brands in a very, very big way. The Sensation Facebook page has a community of over three million people. So we have a lot more opportunities now to engage people and ask them what they want. It doesn’t even have to be so complicated. It’s not like writing a piece of software.

Not like dropping a pixel..?
No, we just ask them.

Can we anticipate seeing Beatport branding at TomorrowWorld in September? Or is the nature of the collaboration a little more in the background for now?
For now, it’s more in the background I think. We’re all really excited about Sensation coming to North America. I think the Beatport presence that you will see there is that me and [Beatport Creative Director] Clark [Warner] and a bunch of guys from the office going to the party. And ID&T has a lot of event brands. And as a company, there might be some brands that work in some places and some not in others. What we’re mostly looking forward to with Beatport is expanding our technology platform to help the entire global business. And then we’ll figure it out. We need to get to know everyone a lot better still.


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