'It's a huge leap forward for the DJ community': Beatport's Robb McDaniels on the streaming transition

'It's a huge leap forward for the DJ community': Beatport's Robb McDaniels on the streaming transition

Beatport Link has just spent the past three months in beta. It’s a big move into streaming for the Berlin-based platform favoured by DJs, which has been one digital music service where downloads still drive the business. But offline storage means that streaming is now a viable option.

In the latest issue of Music Week, we look at the progress of Beatport Link, the hardware and software partners getting on board and the future of the download.

In a bonus online Q&A, CEO Robb McDaniels opens about further about the future of Beatport...

Is it a gradual transition for you from downloads to streaming? 

“Absolutely and we are still fully committed to downloads. We think it’s a growing business for us and so five years from now there’s still going to be DJs that want to download and use USB sticks, just like there are DJs now that play vinyl. We are committed to the DJ as our customer, however people want to DJ. I’m not saying we are going to start selling vinyl, but in the digital world we are committed to providing multiple, different ways to obtain music.”

Is there a global opportunity for you with streaming?

“Yes, China, India, South Africa, Russia, certain places in Latin America. These are all massive markets all with their unique attributes. We’ve got to be thoughtful about how we do it with pricing challenges. But also if you think about the expense of DJing, the hardware and everything else that goes along with it and learning how to do it is a pretty big barrier to entry. Our hardware and software partners create those entry-level products and we can deliver a content solution that is price competitive. I absolutely think that’s going to be a big part of our future.” 

I love vinyl but it’s still a pain in the ass to carry around those records everywhere

Robb McDaniels

So you are clearly not a streaming competitor to platforms such as Spotify...

“You have to remember with Apple and Spotify, their user and license rights with the labels and publishers are limited to personal consumption only. The nature of our business is it's supplying music to DJs for public performance and for for professionals. From what I understand, the big music streaming companies are not looking at this because it opens up a whole new host of issues with labels and publishers about licensing. This is what we’ve been doing for 15 years, so we are in this very unique position.” 

What are your thoughts on the state of dance music?

“I think it’s incredibly healthy. Some people mistake dance and electronic music with EDM. For us, EDM is just a genre that’s commercial. It’s pop-dance stuff, the big room, festival music that in the last five years has been the gateway drug to electronic music. We’ve seen it taper off, but it brought a lot of people onto the scene. So I think that’s where a lot of the interest is coming in terms of Beatport. You can’t just look at one sub-genre thatpeople call EDM. That does not truly represent electronic music or DJ culture.”

Do you think vinyl will survive as a DJ format?

“I think so. I love it. It’s still a pain in the ass to carry around those records everywhere. The shift from vinyl to CD, CD to download was a pretty big shift. Streaming is the access model. Not only do you not have to bring anything to the club, but you can curate everything beforehand at home. And then all of the data and information you get by performing, it’s just going to be amazing. It’s a huge leap forward for the DJ community. I think people that may have been holding out are going to make that leap forward.” 

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