Beatport VP – Terry Weerasinghe at SAE Music Business Masterclass
The Beatport VP (Vice President) Terry Weerasinghe was a guest speaker at the SAE Institute in Cape Town and chatted candidly to a full room of eager industry folk keen to hear more about the world’s biggest online music store for electronic music.
Terry has quite a track record in the dance music industry having worked firstly for Pioneer DJ and having been directly involved with the launch of the CDJ. He told an interesting anecdote on how the biggest selling point they used to use to try and convince DJs to use CDJs (back in the days of vinyl) was that you could burn a CDR of a brand new track (as opposed to pressing a dub plate) and play it out immediately. This despite the other obvious advantages of the CDJ such as tighter tempo tracking and looping features , even back then.
After Pioneer DJ he then moved to Native Instruments and was responsible for taking their DJ software, Traktor, to where it is today – the world’s leading DJ application.
Some interesting facts about Beatport
- Beatport has over 5 million tracks on its servers
- The site hosts music for up to 25,000+ labels.
He also showed us some stats on the biggest selling genres over the past several years – which has seen deep house rise to the top of the list, currently. Genres such as tech house, techno and house have remained consistently at the top of the list too. Trance has also waned over the years as has progressive house. The biggest loser is Dubstep which had a fleeting rise but is now anchored to the bottom of the list with breaks not too far behind. Notably, even in the USA, who we all think are crazy for the EDM styles of Martin Garrix, Afrojack and company, deep house is the biggest selling genre. Likewise in the UK whilst Japan and Germany love their techno.
Top Selling Artists do not match Top selling genres
An interesting fact that Terry pointed out about sales on Beatport is that there is no parity between top selling artists and genre. In other words although Deadmau5 has had the most no. 1 selling tracks on Beatport, his genre/style of music is not the biggest seller. The same goes for all the other big hitters, many of which fall into the ‘EDM’ category these days, which incidentally does not exist as a genre on Beatport. Most EDM artists, Terry said, are filed under Progressive House, Trance or Electro as these were those artists core genres before they started to produce the more commercial (now termed EDM) brand of their music. The reason, he said, that top selling artists and top selling genres do not match is all down to the fan bases of these big artists; their social media fan bases specifically. In other words if a high profile name announces the release of an EP or track to his/her 40 million Twitter followers, this will immediately translate into 4 or 5,000 immediate downloads on the first day. Needless to say, he reminded everybody that marketing oneself, specifically via social media is absolutely essential to generate sales and that all the major promoters worldwide use Beatport as a guide to who is in demand at the time. Simply put; the higher up the charts you can get (for your given genre) – the more likely your are to be booked regularly and the higher booking fee can be sought.
Industry Traffic Stats
- Beatport gets over 300 million unique visits a year
- That’s 5 million unique visits per month
Terry reckoned that the closest competitor site is only getting about 1,2 million unique visits per month. He also clarified that Beatport sells almost exclusively to DJs as opposed to the consumer market and that their turnover figures have increased every year since 2008, whereas the consumer download market is declining. This he said was due to consumers moving away from download toward streaming with companies such as Spotify gaining massive market share. Apple iTunes he reminded us, posted a 14% drop in sales last year.
Terry’s advice was twofold. The one we all know these days; if you want an international career (or even a local one that pays the bills) you have to produce your own music. You will not be able to forge a career as just a DJ without having your own tunes. It’s just that simple really.
But the second bit of advice was more telling, although he was quick to point out that he was not criticising South African music.
The SA deep house sound – which is the biggest genre in our country – is quite distinct and unique – perhaps too much so and therefore does not fit into the sets of many of the top international deep house DJs. If you want your music to gain traction it needs to be picked up by higher profile DJs and played in their sets. Terry said he thinks that the SA house sound may not be that easy to integrate into many international DJs’ sets and perhaps local producers could try and introduce certain elements to make the music sound a little more international.
The point is this; if you produce music, you need to create music other DJs want to play. Right now local producers are writing music to satisfy local DJs and dancefloors. This is fine and if your music is good, you will gain traction locally. But if you want your music played at DC10 in Ibiza for example, then you need to produce the type of deep house they are playing at DC10, not the type of deep house being played at Spring Fiesta for example. We love our local house flavours and rightfully so, but he does make a fair point about knowing what market you are targeting when writing music.
Breathe Sunshine #BSEngage
Terry Weesaringhe is a keynote speaker at the Breathe Sunshine #BSEngage conference at the Market Theatre in downtown Johannesburg this Friday, 3rd October ’14.
The conference also includes a keynote speech from digital radio personality, Gareth Cliff, an ‘On the Couch Session’ with international electro-dance duo, The Presets and a full panel discussion with SA’s leading house music label, Soul Candi Records which will include heavy hitters, Black Coffee, DJ Zinhle, Jullian Gomes, Kid Fonque and Euphonik.