SFX-owned electronic music destination Beatport.com is about to undergo a major overhaul, with plans to feature free streaming, event information, and social media features. About a month ago we analyzed SFX’s third quarter earnings call in which they discussed their insane expansion strategy, upcoming layoffs, and the revamping of Denver-based Beatport in 2015. While no specific details were given about the Beatport strategy during the call, the Wall Street Journal has dug up some of the nitty-gritty in a piece published Friday:
Early next year, Beatport.com—a 10-year-old digital-music store catering to professional DJs that SFX has owned since 2013—will be relaunched to attract fans of the company’s festivals instead.
Rather than selling downloads, the new site will feature a free, ad-supported music streaming service and the ability to listen on-demand to a catalog of mostly electronic songs, according to people familiar with the matter.
The SFX digital empire currently consists of 59 websites, frequented annually by about 300 million visitors (50 million of whom go straight to Beatport). The one measurable goal mentioned during the earnings call was “a robust consumer site with one log-in” meant to consolidate all of the SFX sites under the Beatport brand. It looks like they’re well on their way:
The new Beatport.com is also supposed to serve as a community center for dance-music fans, showcasing event information, artist profiles and, potentially, live-streamed performances, these people said. The site is likely to incorporate SFX’s latest acquisitions: a music-based social network called Listn, and hostess.fm, which allows users to listen in real time to what’s being played in clubs around the world.
While Beatport is being transformed into a “fan site” featuring streaming content meant to compete with establishment iTunes and Pandora as well as specialist sites like Digitally Imported, the highly profitable digital download service that has defined Beatport for the past ten years will remain, but under the “Beatport Pro” label. Beatport sales make up a little over 20% of SFX’s total income, with a 2012 estimated revenue of about $15 million. They’d be crazy to give that up.
And while major streaming sites like SoundCloud and Spotify have struggled to land licensing deals with the major labels, Beatport doesn’t seem too worried about its negotiations—nearly all of the tracks sold on the site are released on indie labels, leaving about 10% controlled by the majors.