There is a lot of buzz around the launch of the new streaming service from the electronic music juggernaut Beatport. As the largest storefront for electronic music, the focus is on how this new service will impact both DJs and producers. In this post, we dive into the details to find out if Beatport Link is a game-changer.
The Shifting Music Landscape
Before we check out what Beatport Link offers it’s worth covering change something the music industry is no stranger to. Early DJ pioneers honed their craft on vinyl. Trekking down to the local record store became the equal of a kid in a candy store. Discovering new delights and fresh beats was a weekly ritual.
As technology progressed CDs took over the reins and the music industry enjoyed explosive sales. Once again the DJ community moved with the times and to this day the CDJ is the most common piece of DJ equipment found in both small and large clubs.
As the internet began to grow the music industry faced its first major hurdle. It made it simple and easy to get and share music. This led to a massive spike in piracy made famous by the likes of file-sharing programs like Napster.
MP3 files started to dominate people’s hard drives and once again the DJ industry followed suit. DJs can show up to gigs with hundreds of tracks loaded on a USB stick. The task of lugging around massive vinyl or CD collections became a part of the past.
The next evolution came in the form of streaming services like Spotify. Ownership of music shifted. You no longer had a physical copy or even a file to call your own. For a small fee, you now had access to an astronomical amount of music.
This shift is a challenging one for the world of electronic music and DJs. With the launch of Beatport Link and similar services like SoundCloud Go+, we are venturing into a bold new world for both DJs and producers. But will it revolutionize the industry or is it a flash in the pan?
What Is Beatport Link?
Beatport Link is a new service the runs parallel with the Beatport online storefront. It offers three tiers with a host of features on each tier. The basic tier will grant you access to over 6 million tracks in the Beatport library. You can stream these tracks to compatible software. Currently WeDJ and rekordBox. Virtual DJ, Denon and I would imagine Serato and Traktor are sure to be on the horizon. These tracks are 128kbps AAC files.
Beatport Pro ups the quality to 256kbps AAC files and opens up the option to save 50 tracks for offline play. There is also a Beatport Pro+ tier that expands this further to 100 tracks. All these services include Beatport Cloud for enhanced previewing of tracks. It also offers library management and the ability to re-download past purchases. You can start a free trial or check out the pricing tiers here.
How Does It Impact DJs?
From the outset, the service is still limited. 128kbps is very low quality. Even the best studio monitors are not going to make these files sound great. This service is for beginner DJs who do not have a large music collection. The compatible controllers are the entry-level options from Pioneer.
The main benefit for DJs will be the “Needle Drop” option which allows you to preview 120 seconds of a track from your choice of position. Upping the plan to better quality and some offline storage does open up some more choices. It will be a great way to test out new tracks at home before you commit to purchasing.
For the professional DJ that is about as far as it gets. The terms and conditions state that the service is not for live performances. It’s limited to personal home use. The ability to re-download tracks you have purchased is a nice addition. If you have a hard drive failure or misplaced your tracks you’ll appreciate this feature. Though I’m not sure it should be stuck behind a paywall.
How Does It Impact Producers?
Streaming services are not always a producer’s best friend. The fear of earning mere pennies can put a large financial strain on a new producer’s career. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Beatport is in the business of selling tracks and this service is a gateway option. If anything producers may find that their sales numbers do not change much. Instead, they may earn a little extra revenue from the streaming part. It also opens up the door to converting those interested in DJing to embrace it as a hobby or career. This will also lead to more regular purchases.
Opening up the catalog also encourages DJs to explore and play with more tracks. This can lead to more purchases as well. There can be times a DJ will hesitate to buy a track because they cannot get a full feel for the track and how it might sit in their performances. This streaming and previewing will allow them to flex their creativity and push boundaries. These are positives for the people making the music we love.
Time will tell how much of an impact Beatport Link has for producers and the revenue they earn. For now, though this service isn’t quite what a professional DJ needs. The inability to not be able to use the service for live shows will be a dealbreaker for many. Even if you could access all the tracks to play live I would not feel comfortable trusting my wi-fi connection for a live gig.
But what it does show is that there is a space for these streaming services within the DJ ecosystem. More flexible previewing and the ability to try before you buy are good tools. As the service evolves and new features introduced it could indeed be a must-have for DJs. If it proves a success it could be interesting to see how other music behemoths like Apple respond. Could we be heading in the direction of having many competing DJ streaming platforms?
Streaming is here to stay for the time being. While we are not at the stage of rocking up to a gig with thousands of on-demand tracks it is evolving. Only time will show what this new uncharted streaming territory has to offer both DJs and producers.