Beatport Finally Has Moment Of Clarity – Drops Unprofitable Brand Excursions
By Dan Brotman — Editor-At-Large
Special To FutureMusic
Beatport has announced that it will be suspending their streaming services, as well as other ancillary offerings, in order to restructure the company to deliver a better electronic music download service. While not disclosed, FutureMusic is also hearing that Beatport will be drastically reducing their staff, as part of the internal structuring as well. Beatport’s mobile app, Video livestreaming platform, as well as the lackluster Beatport News and Events sections will also be dropped, effective May 13, 2016.
The restructuring is meant to make the download service more attractive to a potential buyout, and to help sustain the company, while it focuses on becoming profitable. The moves are clearly too late to help Beatport in the near term, since it has suspended fielding offers for the company after declaring Chapter 11 earlier this year, since no viable suitors have come forward. While the streaming service and mobile app may be missed by some, Beatport News, Beatport Events and the livestreaming video service, won’t be. Beatport’s News and Events were anemic forays into content marketing, which poorly positioned their well-known brand to the EDM market. The Livestreaming video platform just never gained the viewership necessary to substantiate its cost.
The biggest problem Beatport faces is making it easier for customers to find quality music to purchase. FutureMusic has been reporting on this issue for years, but for some reason the braintrust at Beatport keeps ignoring the 800 lbs. bright pink elephant in the roomSearch!!!. To significantly increase their sales, the company needs to go “back to formula” to create an intuitive and efficient methodology to presenting the the most appropriate music to their customers. And this starts with a best-in-class search engine…something Beatport has never had. Whether this entails a complete revamp of their database structure to modernize the organizing and storing of information, which may be daunting to a concern in Chapter 11, it needs to be accomplished if Beatport has any chance for survival.
Help Us, Help You
Beatport has never truly employed the labels, who are the lifeblood of their service, to assist them in making their infrastructure better. Labels were enlisted to supply basic meta data for each track they uploaded to the service, but never sophisticated, search friendly data fields to incorporate descriptive and savvy keywords. As with Search Engine Optimization, the better the keywords, the better the results in terms of finding precisely what you’re looking for. The unfortunate reality for Beatport is that crate digging at record stores, yields a better chance to find what you’re looking for than putting in search words into their service. How can that possibly be?
Why doesn’t Beatport allow a record company, who only wants to sell as many downloads as possible, to provide keyword-dense, track descriptions in order to increase sales and make them more profitable?
Because a dialed-in record store employee listened to the track and categorized it properly in an appropriate bin, or offered suggestions based on a verbal interaction with the customer. Now Beatport may argue that you’re never going to obtain the same level of interaction and recommendation that you’ll find at a record store with a face-to-face interaction, and that may be true, but other online record stores have been able to provide a level of service, which easy eclipses Beatport.
DanceRecords.com, an online vinyl record store, which had it’s heyday from about 2004 to 2006, certainly had the right idea. Remember, this is 12 years ago, but putting in keywords in their search utility, in addition to genre check-boxes, yielded very relevant results. Better yet, each track had an actual description. Thus, you could further evaluate if the track was worth your time to needle-drop. Beatport has nothing of the sort.
DanceRecords.com Website (2004)
Furthermore, DanceRecords.com was smart enough to include sub-genres, and even sub-sub-genres, something that Beatport only – sort of – recently deployed, and it’s very poorly done. With such a low level of attention span these days, why Beatport doesn’t understand that potential buyers don’t want to waste their time needle-dropping extraneous tracks is beyond comprehension. What’s even more baffling is that presenting the right tracks in the most efficient manner only increases sales, making everyone more money.
What Beatport does give you is very basic track information, but nothing as far as a valuable description. Length of track, release date, BPM, key, top level genre, record label, artist and track name, that’s it. There are some cross-sell mechanisms, such as “Appears On” (compilations, best of lists, DJ charts), and the more helpful “People Also Bought,” but nothing that provides a true recommendation or music discovery feature. For as many years as Beatport has been in business, this is the best they can do, and this is why they are failing.
Beatport Website (2016)
Beatport President and CEO, Greg Consiglio, may want to cite their original content fumbles, Beatport News, Beatport Events and the livestreaming video service, as well as the audio streaming service and mobile app, for their troubles, but the reality is that they can’t execute on their core competency, selling music. However, there may be some rays of hope. In their announcement, they do state:
“Going forward, we will refocus our attention and resources on our flagship business, the Beatport Store. We’ve already made noticeable improvements in site performance, with our most-used features (track, release, artist, and genre pages) running up to 51% faster.”
Now that 51% improvement statistic may be a little enthusiastic, since I’ve detected no noticeable improvement on the site, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
“For over 12 years, the Beatport Store has served DJs and the electronic music community. As a new generation of artists, performers, and sounds develop and grow, inspired by the leaders of today and the past, the Beatport Store will continue to be there to support the music and inspire the community.”
Ultimately the question remains…with continued missteps and no interested buyers, will Beatport be able to right the ship and provide a truly rewarding electronic music download service? It’s hard to imagine this occurring with the current administration, since they continue to ignore the obvious, but considering how dance music is at the peak of popularity, there is no better time to step up…or have another company step in.