Business News Digital

Beatport to cut everything but downloads

By | Published on Wednesday 11 May 2016


Beatport is shutting down its streaming service. And its mobile app. And its news service. And its video service. Oh, and its events section. Are you keeping up? Worked out what’s left? Go on, have a guess. Yes, that’s right, the Beatport Store. Download yourself some beats as a reward.

So yes, struggling dance music company SFX has been busy of late trying to flog off the digital music platform it acquired in 2013 as it works its way through bankruptcy. The deadline for bidding to buy Beatport was extended into last week, but as of yesterday the auction process was suspended, though the parent company said it would “continue considering offers”. Anyone?

Beatport, of course, enjoyed considerable success during the download boom, which conveniently coincided with the EDM explosion in the US. Its genre specialism enabled it to compete in a market otherwise totally dominated by iTunes, and some commentators reckoned it was one of the few digital music start-ups to be profitable.

But under SFX’s watch Beatport expanded into streaming and other forms of content provision, all of which are much more risky affairs. A move into streaming, where labels and publishers earn a share of overall revenues rather than per-download sales, usually means providing minimum guarantees to the rights owners, which is costly for streaming platforms until they reach critical mass. Meanwhile becoming a media platform is also risky, given how much conventional music media are struggling to make any money online.

With downloads in decline across the board, ambitions to diversify the Beatport brand weren’t totally insane, though the business plan was likely reliant on upselling other SFX products and tapping into other SFX brand partnerships to work, in the short term at least, which meant its success was linked to that of the parent company. Which then fell over.

The need for those synergies to make an EDM streaming service work were also likely a concern for any potential bidders for Beatport; few investors want to back loss-making streaming services in 2016, where long-term success almost certainly requires very deep pockets. The test now is whether a downloads-centric Beatport can survive in a declining download market. Bosses there will be hoping that one of its key target audiences – the DJ community – still need to download copies of the tracks they want to utilise.

In a statement yesterday the digital platform said: “When Beatport was acquired three years ago, part of the vision was to create a broad digital platform for DJs to engage fans of electronic music wherever they may be. The original Beatport Store and the Beatport brand became the foundation for this vision, upon which we added a streaming music service, mobile app, a video live-streaming platform, and a relaunched news and media property”.

“We have learned through this process however, that in our effort to be so many different things, we lost focus on bringing the best possible service and capabilities to our most loyal customers: the DJ community”, it went on. “As such, we have determined to invest in what is most important to our business and our customers, rather than adding yet another choice to a sea of streaming services”.

The Beatport platform will be cut back to just its download store at the end of the week. It’s not yet entirely clear what this means for the people working there, except that there will be a management rejig and some downsizing.

Meanwhile the service’s statement concludes: “For over twelve 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”.