How much is that record in the window? Beatport announces plans to offer banner adverts for new releases to the highest bidder, with prices starting at $2,000.
Beatport has announced plans to auction new release banner positions to the highest bidder.
The Beatport Amplify initiative – first mooted at Amsterdam Dance Event and then officially confirmed by Beatport CEO Matt Adell during a Reddit AMA – has the potential to further skew the playing field in favour of labels with bigger budgets.
When questioned as to whether he believed Amplify “cheapens [Beatport's] position as a fair and impartial marketplace”, Adell replied:
“I hope not. We are experimenting with this because many partners have asked for a way to activate similar programs to what they do at other music stores. We will always mark these items as “sponsored” just like other digital services do. Also, only records we would carry any way can participate.
We spend a considerable amount of time and money blocking “people” who try to buy their way into the charts (which does not work), so our credibility is incredibly important to us.
We are doing this out in the open, knowing that some folks may be concerned, but we decided transparency with the community is vital.”
Digital distribution company Sweet N Low reveals that labels will be able to choose from four banner positions: premium homepage placement (slide 4); preferred homepage placement (slide 9 or 10); genre homepage placement (slide 4); and genre featured new release (slide 9 or 10). The starting prices range from $2,000 for the less prominent options through to $4,000 for premium homepage placement.
“AT BEATPORT OVER 90% OF EVERYTHING WE SELL COMES FROM AN INDEPENDENT LABEL OR ARTIST.”
Considering the general state of record sales across the dance music spectrum, such prices – compounded by the eBay-style bidding system – will no doubt price out the majority of Beatport’s labels. In the same Reddit discussion Adell prided himself on the fact that “at Beatport over 90% of everything we sell comes from an independent label or artist. At mainstream services, the 3 major labels make up 85% of all buying or listening”. But surely even the starting prices touted in the marketing spiel are geared towards the 10% of major label content and the top 5% of their independent output?
It has long been accepted that banner placement leads to bigger sales. As a response to Beatport’s Becoming ‘One’: Anatomy of a #1 hit feature on the commercial success of Swedish House Mafia’s ‘One’, the Lost In Musik blog broke down the different variables determining a track’s sales back in 2011. Their findings suggested that promotion via a front page or genre page banner is critical: “In the Beatport article on One they mention that getting a banner is not nearly as important as promotion, and this is true – but only if your reliable social media network fan base is far greater than Beatport traffic. For the majority of artists and labels a banner is a BIG help… Beatport banners work, and in our case at least double sales.”
Perhaps the first significant announcement of the new SFX-owned regime, Amplify will see Beatport embrace a paid-for marketing model that further calls into question their debated position as a quality-curated music store.
While many will be concerned that cash – rather than quality – will decide what sells, others will argue that Amplify is merely making transparent the money-driven nature of music retailing.
Whether that will appease the majority of cash-strapped labels dependent on Beatport’s support remains to be seen.