Beatport, the go-to online music store for professional DJs and electronic music obsessives, is adding streaming to its menu. The move is part of a larger revamp that began when the site was acquired by SFX Entertainment in 2013. It’s aim is high: To make Beatport the primary online destination for EDM.
The company now includes three entities: Beatport Pro, a desktop music manager and media player for DJs, a music download store of the same name, and Beatport.com, the umbrella site where the free streaming platform will live. Beatport.com will serve as ground zero, with links to the download store, news stories, artist profiles, streaming music, and of course, tickets to SFX events.
Clark Warner, the site’s executive creative director, stressed that the site is not trying to compete with streaming platforms like Spotify.
“We’re not aiming to be a jukebox in the sky,” he said in an exclusive interview with Billboard. “It’s not supposed to be this major cloud experience. We’re aiming to be a single sign-on, which we’ve worked on with SFX for a long time.” A single sign-on is essentially a one-stop digital shop for consumers of the genre.
Many companies, including Digitally Imported and Insomniac, are trying to solve EDM’s need for a digital hub. With the industry’s explosion has come an increasingly diffuse fan experience, with a slew of separate destinations for discovery, downloads and ticketing. “There are a lot of hoops to get to where you want to go,” Warner said. “We want to make people jump through less hoops.”
The 10-year-old site is in a unique position to tackle this problem because it has built-in cultural cache: Its core customers are DJs who buy music on Beatport because most streaming sites aren’t reliable enough to support a live set. Because of this, music purchasing rates at the site are about on par with last year, while other companies such as iTunes’ and Rhapsody’s rates fell.
“Its a different business,” he said. “The people who buy music on Beatport are DJs, pure and simple. So for us, streaming is adding to, not replacing, our download business.”
The ultimate goal is to steer Beatport’s 50 million users, plus another 300 million users from SFX’s various properties, into one place, making it easier for advertisers and event companies to reach them. The site’s editorial includes Beatport News stories and artist and label profiles. Beatport’s streaming service will be supported by ads and offer on-demand access to the site’s sprawling catalogue of dance music, of which about 90 percent comes from independent labels. As a result, partnering with major labels is a priority, but not a necessity.
Warner said the free streaming model won’t drastically affect business. “One of our core values is that artists should be paid,” he said. The company’s music store charges roughly 50% more than other digital retailers for downloads, and distributors 20% more for placement, and Warner said they’ve paid close to $170 million in royalties to partners over the last decade. Ideally, facilitating music discovery will boost sales for artists. “We’re catering to the traffic that we already have,” he said.