2009 was the year that online dance music retailers really solidified and grabbed their slice of the ever-growing music market. As online legal distribution for dance music begins to really take off, there are now a plethora of these sites vying for a piece of the pie. No one has been more successful at putting out quality house music that you won’t find in your local record store than Beatport, Traxsource and Juno. Oh wait, I forgot, there is no such thing as a local record store, so let’s just say iTunes or Amazon. With literally thousands of dance labels around the globe, these three companies do a great job of not only promoting the music you might not otherwise hear (or maybe you danced to it at your local club but didn’t know where to get it), but breaking them down into specific genres so the individual can hone in on their specific taste. For me, I go straight to the “house” category in Beatport, “soulful” in Traxsource and the “funky” category in Juno. That’s where I know I’ll find some gem that’s not being heard anywhere around here and is something I can share with you guys in my podcasts.
Of course, with everyone trying to grab their share in a crowded and quite frankly limited field, we also witnessed the demise of XpressBeats and the merger of Juno and DJdownload (though, I’m not really certain what purpose that served). I’m guessing there will be a couple more casualties this year. Even though I won’t go into speculation, I have a pretty good idea who’s on their last legs as I write this. Ultimately, the success of these online dance music retailers relies on three key factors: 1) Identifying the niche that’s currently being underserved by major distributors and filling it with the content that consumers are begging for 2) Layout and design that’s easy to navigate 3) Speed, speed, speed!!! People don’t want to spend forever and a year looking for something. Your search must be fast and intuitive in case of misspelled words. If I had to add one final suggestion, that would be 2 minute previews as opposed to the 30 seconds you get from the majors. Frankly, the only service that has mastered all of the above is Beatport. Juno has definite layout and speed issues that rely too much on your systems cache, which causes frequent inoperability with their player. Traxsource is pretty fast, but the layout is not particularly great nor do they do a good job of breaking up the genres for specific interest.
The one online service I really and I mean REALLY want to see succeed is Masterbeat. Only two years old, they are the ONLY online distributor that has managed to negotiate with the big labels to sell Beyonce, Rihanna or Madonna and other big name artists with dance remixes. The problem they’re having at the moment is that those very same labels are pretty much dictating how they run their business and have forced them to add additional servers to accommodate their entire music catalog. As you can probably realize, that not only costs money, but detracts from the original purpose of the site, which is to target more mainstream dance music along with popular underground house. As a result, the front page is confusing at best with a top ten chart that’s pretty much irrelevant. I think a good redesign of the layout would go a long way to help fans sign up for what they want and target the consumer’s specific interest. It’s doable, but once again there’s that pesky money investment factor. Hopefully, Brett will be able to work this all out in the near future. Frankly, if the labels would stop using the remixes as a loss-lead by floating all this stuff out on the internet, they might actually be able to make some money; I digress, what the hell do I know?
In some cases, you can go to iTunes for specific dance mixes by an artist, but then they want to sell you videos, books and soon concert tickets, perfumes and clothing lines by that artist, not to mention the results have everything they ever appeared on, including karaoke. If you don’t believe me, give it about a year, because that’s the direction everything is heading. With more artists signing with Live Nation, that’s how they make money by reinvesting the artist’s name into everything imaginable that can’t be bootlegged on the internet. Hey, I’m all for capitalism and grabbing your piece, I just don’t want to be bombarded with everything by an artist when I’m only looking for one thing. Regardless, I expect iTunes to turn into the Wal-Mart Superstore of online entertainment. So, if you love to one-stop shop at Wally World then you’ll probably appreciate it. If you’re like me and detest the mega-shopping experience, then it won’t have any appeal. If information overload and mega this and mega that is what it takes to get you the consumer to open up your wallet, then so be it; just count me out.
Whew! I am so glad I got that off my chest. I know, I know this is just bloviating on my part, but with a background in business management and retail that successfully targeted a niche market, this is something that has great interest to me. The only time you guys probably think about it is when you go to spend your money online and have a bitch of a time finding something you know is there. So, let’s forget all of that and get on with the music of 2009! Before you do, I thought I would go ahead and share another memorable moment from the year. In case you missed it, here is Stevie Bishop’s take on Lilly Allen’s fabulous song “Fuck You.” Enjoy!
Album : Year-end Edition v3
Genre : Electro, Funky, House, Progressive
Year : 2009
Total Time : 1:52:00:00
1. Agnes – Release Me (Cahill Club Edit)
2. The Killers – Human (Armin Van Buuren Club Remix)
3. Katy Perry – Waking Up In Vegas (Manhattan Clique Bellagio Remix)
4. Meck – Windmills (Club Mix)
5. Max Vangeli & Digital Lab with Simone Denny – Your Love (Original Mix)
6. Faithless feat. Cass Fox – Music Matters (Axwell Remix)
7. Freemasons feat. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer) (Club Mix)
8. Serge Devant – Addicted (Club Mix Re-edit)
9. Lady Gaga – Paparazzi (Dave Aude Club)
10. Janet – Make Me (Dave Aude Club Mix)
11. Pussycat Dolls – Bottle Pop (Moto Blanco Club)
12. Jade Ewen – My Man (Cahill Club Mix)
13. Cascada – Evacuate The Dancefloor (Cahill Remix)
14. Wale feat. Lady Gaga – Chillin (Bimbo Jones Club Mix)
15. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance (Dave Aude Club Mix)
16. Kevin Rudolf feat. Lil Wayne – Let It Rock (Tony Arzandon Remix)
17. Lily Allen – The Fear (Stonebridge Club Mix)
18. KeSha – Tik Tok (Fred Falke Club Mix)
19. Black Eyed Peas – Boom Boom Pow (David Guetta’s Electro Hop Remix)
20. Bob Sinclar feat. Sugarhill Gang – Lala Song (Tocadisco Remix)