With the news that parent company SFX Entertainment has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the US, and that Beatport has negotiated itself into a relatively secure position within that new regime (labels being paid, business continuing as an ongoing concern), today we ask: What next for one of dance music’s most well-known brands?
Over the last few days since the news of SFX Entertainment’s woes, we’ve obviously been talking a lot about Beatport, and what it means in the industry and for us as DJs. People have aired all kinds of opinions, from “they’re too expensive” to “they have loads of music nobody else does”.
Of course we have always paid a keen interest in the brand no matter what its ups and downs (remember, only two years ago, Beatport was independent of the kind of big corporation politics it has now founditself embroiled in). So we think we’re in a good position to make a few predictions. Here are three things we reckon will happen at Beatport:
1. It (probably) has a bright future as a brand
Despite the panic when its parent company filed for bankruptcy, Beatport has too big a name, too much brand equity, and too much going for it. Fundamentally, it is a success. The issues here weren’t Beatport and its performance, they were mismanagement at the over-ambitious and sometimes bizarre company that owned it.
If Beatport ends up being sold (and that’s exactly what we think will happen), chances are high that the buyer will be someone more aligned to what Beatport was about in the first place – underground dance music. Have a peek through its catalogue yourself – we reckon over 90% of its labels are independent, which is pretty much the opposite of sites like iTunes and Spotify. Of course, we don’t know exactly what’s around the corner for it… but things look hopeful.
2. It will offer streaming music within DJ software
Of course, this is the big thing right now. Spotify has teamed up with apps like djay and Pacemaker to do this. Surely it’s only a matter of time before someone gets iTunes streaming in DJ software (it’s just a DRM issue, in that instance).
But Beatport has both the streaming service, the metadata (key, BPM, label, genre etc), and the existing audience for a “Beatport” tab in DJ software to be easy to imagine. New company Pulselocker has already announced a similar service in Pioneer DJ and Serato DJ software… but we think it’s a dead cert Beatport will be there soon, too
3. It will become more of an electronic music culture hub
You can already see it at the site, with Beatport covering music news, having its own video reporting, and also offering live streaming of DJ sets (similar to “Boiler Room” videos on YouTube). Freed from potential clashes of interest and editorial constraints imposed by the business interests of SFX Entertainment, Beatport’s editorial team could leverage the huge traffic to the brand’s websites and the relationships with DJs and labels to deliver a truly relevant, engaging online hub for electronic DJs and artists – with a big nod to the underground, of course.
Even Beatport’s critics would probably agree that it’d be bad for dance music culture to see a company like this disappear. Beatport was there right at the start (ironically, alongside iTunes – there are two sides of the same coin if ever you needed an example), and so it’s good to see that there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for the brand.
If Chapter 11 means better management and more cash (and it does – very simplistically, the investors in SFX are now effectively its owners, and so need to see all the brands deliver, at least the good ones), then Beatport is safe. What’s really interesting is what it can do now it’s opened a new, ahem, chapter. Let’s see…
What direction do you think Beatport should go in now? What do you think it does well, and could build on? Please share your thoughts in the comments.