Zel McCarthy

Zel McCarthy

Courtesy Photo

Zel McCarthy, former editor-in-chief of Vice Media's Thump, is joining Beatport as VP of Beatport Media, Billboard has learned exclusively.

McCarthy will be responsible for overseeing the growth of all Beatport media properties across the globe by managing the editorial, video and photo content and influencing strategic direction as a member of the executive team. He is a seasoned journalist who has also contributed to Billboard, Soundbleed, Big Shot Media and other outlets.

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The move comes the same week as other significant moves at Beatport's parent company SFX Entertainment, including the appointment of Greg Consiglio as president and CEO of Beatport.

Billboard sat down with McCarthy to discuss his vision for the new position:

In what ways are you envisioning leveraging Beatport's brand on different platforms?

That's a good question, I can't reveal too much about it at this point, but the Beatport brand is synonymous with electronic music because Beatport's origins were the disruptor within the DJ community. 11 years ago when Beatport's store was brand new, people were still having the debates about whether it was ok to play an MP3. Ableton was a brand new technology. There were vinyl purists that were deeply disgusted with anyone who used a CDJ. We've evolved so much in the last dozen years and obviously the explosion, post-EDM rebrand five years ago has changed things. Beatport's been a consistent presence, and it's exciting for me to be somewhere where electronic music is a priority, and to be able to share the story, the passion, and all that sorts of the culture with a wider audience.

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How does your new role interface with the new Beatport CEO and other structural changes at SFX Entertainment?

The takeaway for my purposes is that Beatport is a priority within the corporate structure of its parents company. I think that from the outside, it may have been perceived that Beatport was an apparatus of SFX. That is not the case, and it will certainly not be the case under my leadership. I'm a fiercely independent person. I'm really excited. Greg Consiglio is the new CEO, and he brings a lot of experience and adds a certain level of gravitas to the Beatport ambition. A few years ago, people were really ambivalent about corporations in electronic music, and I think people have mostly got over that. Because the electronic music community brought in the interest of people who have more typical corporate media backgrounds, now we get to leverage that and benefit from what they know. Essentially fuse something that has been historically underground and alternative with some really key strategic and insightful tools. Vice has carved out an identity for itself over the last 20 years, and I was really lucky to be apart of that for the last year and a half at Thump, but I'm really excited about being somewhere where I know that electronic music is the priority.

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Talk a little bit about how dance music's fan demographic consumes media, and how that will inform your approach at Beatport.  

This is part of the reason why I wanted to come here. I think where I was before was a media company, but in reality, that audience was aging. Young millennials, which advertisers are so excited about for whatever reason, they are electronic music fans. They don't always call themselves that, but the reality is electronic music is the sound of a generation. I think it's really exciting for those of us who've been around a little longer - I've been doing this for 10 plus years - to think about changing the way we create content, so that it reaches people in the way that they are looking at it. Two years ago if you had said Snapchat's going to be a really important distribution platform for your content, I would've been like 'that's cool,' but I don't see how, because we didn't have any examples of it. Now it's like, "Oh, I get it." It's not always about in-depth and detailed coverage, sometimes it's about a quick interaction. Electronic music fans are technologically savvy, the most cutting edge consumers of media. They're also not going to put up with any bullshit. So much bullshit has been peddled at us as electronic music fans forever, particularly within the last five years. Part of my job, as it was at Thump and as it will be here at Beatport, is to keep the bullshit out of it and cut straight to the things that people are really passionate about.