Digitally Imported, the Denver-based internet radio service catering to electronic music fans (also known as di.fm), today announced that it will integrate streaming radio, on-demand features and e-commerce into its business model, effectively turning the platform into a one-stop shop for EDM fans. So far, the expansion includes partnerships with nine independent content distributors.
"The dance music industry is fragmented," Eloy Lopez, the site’s chief operating officer, tells Billboard. "There was no single place you could go to experience and collect electronic music. People were calling for this."
The new platform, to be rolled out early next year, will offer its 3.4 million users access to roughly 300,000 digital tracks curated by the site's staff. That number could expand to 500,000 by the end of 2015, Lopez said.
There are many reasons the expansion could spark a shift in the way people listen and shop for music. Rather than forcing users to toggle back and forth between streaming sites like Soundcloud and retailers like iTunes, Digitally Imported will be all-inclusive. The company secured comprehensive licensing agreements that include rights for passive radio listening, on-demand listening, and master rights for buying songs and albums, keeping all forms of consumption under one umbrella. Lopez, who co-founded Beatport in 2004 and joined di.fm in 2011, said his team had to create contracts from scratch.
"The idea is not to direct users away to multiple pages," he said. "All of the options should be right in front of you, and that hasn't been done yet."
In the grand scheme of things, 300,000 tracks is a small sample of the world's dance music, but that's because Digitally Imported's content is human-curated. Doing so keeps costs low for the company and helps consumers navigate the genre's vastly oversatured music market, Lopez said.
"Everyone is bombarded with way too much," he said. "We've gotten the green light from suppliers to cherrypick the content for retail and on-demand options. Our catalogue might only carry 20 percent of electronic music, but it will be the best of the best."
Every song in the platform's catalogue will be available for purchase, and the company will make money from subscriptions, download sales, and advertising. The company could not disclose what percentage of its users are subscribers, but noted that of its subscribers, 90 percent renew their premium subscriptions and 95 percent tune in once a week or more. And perhaps most importantly, almost 90 percent are willing to pay for music, building collections instead of relying on streaming.
Lopez said the company only plans to partner with independent distributors becuase of the "radical complexity" that comes with working with major labels. "And we don't have deep pockets to give advances," he said. Independent distributors have been eager to jump on board. Jorge Brea, the founder and president of Symphonic Distribution, said the new model will "help the art form of DJ-ing evolve." And Holger Schneider, the digital head of GoodToGo, said the partnership will put the company "among the first distributors to embrace a creative new appraoch to licensing."
Among the other distributors to sign on are Label Worx, Paradise Distribution, Groove Attack and Rough Trade Distribution. More are expected to join by the end of the year. Digitally Imported was founded in 1999 as a single channel and has grown to offer more than 80 channels of techno, drum and bass, house and trance on its website and mobile apps.