A look at music marketing campaigns — including song exclusivity to specific music streaming and retail platforms, and how music metadata fields are handled by such platforms can make streaming counts vary wildly
You made a record, where to which streaming services do you deliver it?
The conventional wisdom is: EVERYWHERE. A digital distributor — for independent artists of a smaller size — this usually means a self service distributor like CDBaby, DistroKid, Tunecore and there are scores of other ones — will deliver their music everywhere, as far as they want to take it, to 100s of music services.
Does an artist want to deliver their music to Gaana, a well known music streaming service in India? The self-serve distributor covers the globe. Same distribution service to emerging non-music streaming platforms that use music in some way. For instance, an indie musician can distribute their music to TikTok so fans can add the indie songs into their TikTok creations, short form videos set to music.
The more outlets music is available on, the more opportunity for an independent musician to acquire new fans and gain streams (and downloads for those services that still sell files).
Meanwhile, some musicians feel the payout rates of particular music streaming services are too low to warrant them distributing their music to them.
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Some musicians skip streaming and sell music files direct to consumer (D2C) via a platform like Bandcamp.
Bandcamp also has an app that allows listeners to aggregate all the music they’ve purchased (as download files) and stream it. There are other D2C platforms that say they have cut down the $$ that they take from artists in terms of music sales, like Single Music.
Going D2C makes sense for musicians, they keep a bigger piece of their revenue from streams and sales. But musicians typically need to have a sizable and established fan base that will be ready to buy the music direct from the artist.
For musicians looking to be discovered by new fans, being available on a fair amount of streaming services increases the potential for discovery via just simple “stumble upon a new artist” streaming. More direct discovery channels include the addition of an independent artist’s songs to popular playlists and social sharing of their song links across digital media channels.
I understand if an independent musician without a sizable fan base forgoes one or two major streaming services maybe like Amazon Music, or Spotify because of low pay out rates, and instead focuses on Apple Music and TIDAL which have higher rates.
However the global user base of Spotify is so large — 36% to Apple Music’s 18% market share, would a musician really want to skip over Spotify?
When artists limit music availability to one streaming platform ; e.g. “streaming exclusives”
If you’re a big BIG artist, maybe let’s say you even own your own streaming service, like rapper / producer Jay-Z, maybe limiting your music to one streaming platform makes sense. He’s a majority owner of TIDAL. Up until very recently, December 4th, 2019, his 50th birthday, Jay-Z kept his music exclusively to his own service. Now mind you could find Jay-Z music videos on YouTube, etc.
Anyways, this kind of streaming exclusivity deal is going away. These streaming exclusives were not put in place to help artists grow their audiences as much they were used to drive music listeners to subscribe to a particular streaming service. For instance, I signed up for TIDAL just to gain access to the Prince catalog, which was for a time exclusive to TIDAL. Two years later Prince’s catalog became available on Spotify and all other platforms.
Charlie Kaplan, today of Audiomack, wrote an in depth post for Pitchfork on the “death of streaming exclusives “ — while it’s from 2018, it deserves another read
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Why Indie Artists still do practice stream / download exclusivity
While big time musicians today make their songs and albums ubiquitous, many independent artists and their record labels and management teams may limit the music to particular streaming and retail download platforms.
A common technique with “Exclusives” is to give one service a particular time window to have an artist’s music before the others can offer it. So you may find a song on Spotify for a few weeks before it hits other platforms.
What’s becoming more common in the world of exclusives is when a track is available for streaming ONLY before it goes to retail download stores. These exclusives are meant to bolster stream counts by not splitting off any potential streams that would / could be downloads, and build hype for the retail record release. These can hurt DJs who may want to play a new song on the radio or in a nightclub but they can’t buy file for a few weeks until after the streaming debut. These DJs need an actual digital copy of the song to be able to play the music in their DJ sets.
Or an artist will use Bandcamp for a month to focus on maximizing D2C sales of physical and digital music product before offering the music on streaming platforms.
Midnight Riot Records, a record label that releases some of the output from my music group, FSQ, will switch between two major dance music retailers, Juno Download and Traxsource, offering these sites windows to be the exclusive destination for music sales of their specific releases.
In exchange for offering an exclusive, Midnight Riot Records’ release is given extra promotional and editorial consideration.
Promotional placements include prominently featuring a release with display ad banners on the retailer’s digital property (dot com) and in their mobile app. Another promotional placement that is major for artists and labels, is including their release in an email newsletter out to the site’s consumers, typically other DJs who buy new music from Traxsource.
Editorially, an exclusive music release with Traxsource may be featured on the site’s weekly “best new selections” feature, and get a more in-depth review by the music writers who work for Traxsource. The feature is in everyone’s best interest as the music retail site is taking a % of all sales.
Artists and the labels involved in the exclusive are also expected to share links to the features on the retail site, across social and digital media channels.
The more sales that the site potentially drives by offering the artist the feature, the more revenue the site collects. As digital distributor Symphonic notes, most music retailers take 30% to 50% of sales revenues before the distributor and record label get their share but that the actual # is confidential.
My FSQ EP release “I Zimbra” was offered as a “windowed” exclusive to Traxsource by Midnight Riot Records. I believe it was there exclusively for two weeks before it hit the streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify and beyond.
A side bar here note for independent artists — the benefit of being with a record label is demonstrated in this example. Midnight Riot Records has the marketing muscle to get the attention of Traxsource and negotiate the terms of these windowed exclusives.
This is a list of the editorial and promotional efforts Traxsource put behind our FSQ / Midnight Riot Records EP release as it was a “windowed” exclusive for the site.
The three major dance music retailers — Juno Download, Traxsource, and Beatport all have very good editorial teams. Juno focuses mainly on in depth album / EP / track reviews, while Traxsource curates weekly charts and features full DJ mixes (e.g. 1 hour sets) from producers / DJs featured on the site.
Traxsource also has a news site. One of the labels FSQ had a release with, Pole Position Recordings, was able to secure FSQ an interview feature with Traxsource News:
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Traxsource in the past year shifted their editorial content from the news site to digital media channels like their branded Facebook page. For instance, you find their frequent “Album of the Week” or the “Release of the Day” editorial features on their page on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Beatport in late 2019 launched it’s editorial companion site called Beatportal.
Beatport launches a new editorial website called Beatportal
Running a music website as a profitable business in 2019 is hard. Running it as an extension of other kinds of music…
Bandcamp has a very strong editorial focus led by well known music professional Andrew Jervis. You can find their written efforts to feature the best new music at daily.bandcamp.com
Bandcamp Daily is your guide to the artists, fans and labels on Bandcamp.
Artists can certainly build direct relationships with curators and editors at these music retail platforms, especially if their music is quality and their story is noteworthy for some reason. With FSQ’s 2020 debut album, “Reprise Tonight” one of the Bandcamp Daily editors discovered it, and gave it the coveted “Daily Bandcamp” slot.
FSQ, "Reprise Tonight"
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I do not have any direct relationship with the Bandcamp editorial team. Nor did I directly pitch Bandcamp the new FSQ album, though it’s possible they got it on a press mail out from Soul Clap Records, our record label for the release. What probably helped get the attention of the Bandcamp music editors is that the FSQ album has some huge guest stars — George Clinton, Nona Hendryx, Fonda Rae, Dolette McDonald (Talking Heads / Sting).
As I explained in my example with Midnight Riot Records, artists who release their music via record label with pre-existing relationships with these music platforms have a much better chance of being featured, especially if the label is willing to arrange an exclusive, whether it’s a long term deal (perpetual exclusivity) or a “windowed” deal.
These same type of artist features happen at Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, etc and likely work in the same way as these “download” / retail features work as well. Having a record label or distributor in your corner who’s got a relationship, again is key 🔑 This Apple Music feature for Robotaki likely came via direct relationship with someone at the streaming service.
I would argue because the music retailers (Beatport, Juno Download, Traxsource) aren’t anywhere as quite as large as the streaming services, it’s easier for artists to get featured on them. So let’s look into how these features and exclusives work on music retail platforms.
Don’t split the sales!
The title of this post is “Don’t Split the Streams” and I have spent the majority of it including this last section talking about music retail platforms that sell digital files and physical product (mainly vinyl). I will get to streaming in a the second part of this two part post, but first a bit more on why artists and labels wind up with exclusives on retail platforms like Beatport, Juno Download and Traxsource.
BTW, Beatport does offer a streaming service for DJs — it’s called Beatport Link — but I still primarily think (and use them) as a retail download store.
My take is — it would be rare for a dance music artist to limit a release to Beatport, Juno Download, or Traxsource — but some do indeed. It could be to maintain a deeper relationship with the site, or to simplify how other DJs and fans access this artist’s music. There’s one more BIG reason — I’ll get to it in a moment.
That being said for my music project FSQ, we do use Traxsource as our primary service to market our music and connect with a larger community of other producers and DJs.
Beatport, Traxsource and Juno Download offer back end content management systems for independent record labels and artists manage their presence and things like brand identity / logos. Using these back ends they add artist bios or label information to their artist / label profile pages on the sites. These back end platforms are very much like the artist focused platforms that Apple Music and Spotify offer, respectively known as Apple Music for Artists” and “Spotify for Artists”.
One of the big things FSQ is up to at Traxsource, is curating and creating our own custom DJ charts for the site. We use that artist / label back end to create the charts. We create monthly Top 10 charts where we select our favorite tracks that we’ve been DJing. Sometimes the Top 10 charts also include our own FSQ productions. We also do a top 50 chart twice a year: winter and summer. We also offer speciality charts; for instance we compiled a chart of our favorite music from Soul Clap Records’ label catalog.
Traxsource features the charts of FSQ and other major producers and DJs on their main home page and various genre pages on the site, so you see the extra visibility we get by posting these top 10 charts.
Meanwhile at Beatport, the volume of charts created by users — typically musical artist / producer / DJs — is quite large. There are for instance 150,000 DJ charts in the house music genre on Beatport. Getting an artist chart featured on platform is important for visibility but it’s not an easy feat consider the volume of other artists creating charts at Beatport.
If you are releasing music on Beatport, Traxsource or Juno Download you can feature your DJ charts on your artist profile on those sites.
FSQ makes a monthly top 10 chart to track the best in new music produced by other artists. With the amount of music that is being released by other artists, for us DJs (FSQ acts a production team and a DJ unit), it’s a good to keep tabs on what we were playing at the moment each month, every year. The added bonus is we are fortunate that Traxsource features our FSQ DJ charts on their Soul / Funk / Disco genre page.
Admittedly, FSQ has not invested the same time adding our charts to Beatport or Juno Download. In fact we still need to sign up for their artist / label back end platforms!
Our FSQ “I Zimbra” EP, shown earlier in the post, may have been a Traxsource “windowed” exclusive with plenty of features, but later the EP appeared on rival Beatport’s site:
I Zimbra (feat. Dolette McDonald) from Midnight Riot on Beatport
After the shift of consciousness in 2012, generations collided as Charlie and Eli from Soul Clap made contact with…
Traxsource clearly demonstrates their value proposition when it comes to choosing their platform for “windowed” exclusives, and they don’t limit artists and labels to releasing exclusively on their platform in order to get promotional and / or editorial features. A bit more about their offering in their own words here:
Why Choose Traxsource?
Traxsource is the modern home for real House and Techno. Established in 2004, from the internationally renowned…
I believe the wide availability of an artist’s catalog is important especially when it comes to music sales.
Exclusivity slows down the acquisition of music
Consider this: Beatport, Juno Download, and Traxsource offer their regular consumers frequent discount codes. As a DJ buying music, I try to stack up all the new music I need at once and maximize the purchase with the discount code on a single site. If there’s that one track I can’t get at any one of these sites, I have to go off and track it down on the other site, or find it somewhere else beyond, maybe Bandcamp etc. An artist making me hunt for their music because of an exclusive that’s limiting the availability of a track — that is painful, causing me extra steps / site visits to acquire tunes when I am in a rush. Furthermore, I can’t apply the extra purchasing power I have with a discount code on a particular music platform.
Exclusivity can downgrade the quality of the audio
For DJing purposes, I want a high quality audio file — I really need to find the song on Qobuz, Bandcamp, Traxsource, Juno Download, or Beatport. Qobuz in 2019 entered the market with a download store that supports uncompressed high resolution audio files up to 96khz at 24 bit. This is great news as I now have another outlet where I can buy quality music.
I avoid Apple Music or Amazon Music to buy music files because they only support the sale of compressed audio.
When a musician / producer / DJ etc only offers their music on Apple Music / Amazon Music / Spotify, I can’t buy their music to play out as a DJ. I mean with the first two outlets, Apple and Amazon, I CAN indeed buy the files, but I very much hate DJing compressed audio. It doesn’t sound right pushed through big nightclub audio systems.
So why do some independent artists and record labels use permanent download exclusives (e.g. non-windowed, single platform availability) ??
Answer is the header at the top of this section:
DON’T SPLIT THE SALES!
AKA “Feed the Sales Charts”
Note that Beatport, Juno Download and Traxsource have “Best Sellers” charts by genres on their platform.
Artists look to leverage these charts to further the hype around their albums, EP and single tracks. It’s easy to put in the artist / label marketing materials, “#1 NuDisco Song for January” etc. It’s real clout that can move the market.
Breaking on to any of the many Billboard music charts is difficult for any independent artist — it requires quite a volume of BOTH streams and physical / digital sales.
However, if an artist was to put their sole focus on selling exclusively on a single platform — Beatport, Traxsource, or Juno Download — there’s a much greater chance they can rise to the top of any of the genre charts that these platforms offer.
Furthermore, these “best seller” charts are public and visible to anyone going to the sites. Remember, Billboard doesn’t post all their charts publicly ; you need to be 💸 a paid subscriber 💸 to get full access. Example: artists can’t look up the Billboard Dance Music chart and send a link to their mom and dad, or a booking agent, to show them they are #53 on the chart that week.
If an artist sells their music on all three platforms, maybe 33% of their sales evenly go to each of them — Beatport, Juno, and Traxsource. Or if they choose two platforms, say Beatport and Traxsource, maybe sales are split 50% / 50%. Because of the sales split between platforms, the artist still barely breaks these bestseller charts.
If an artist or label puts all the attention on one platform, 100% of the sales of their exclusive release will count towards their bid to get on the best sellers genre chart.
Also note these platforms go very deep on genre and sub-genres so there’s a higher likely hood if an artist produces music in these very specific genres, and delivers them via their distributor and record label properly tagged as such, they can start to move up the chart.
Juno Download is UK based and even have some regionally focused genres they monitor, like “Scouse House” which is a type of house music from Northern England and Scotland.
Of course, some artists may try and game the “best sellers” charts by tagging their music with a genre that may not be as big other genres, so they have a better chance of entering a chart.
I imagine when Beatport launched their new “Afro House” chart in 2017, or “Melodic House” chart in 2018, that producers rushed into sell tracks into the genre in order to be the first to climb these charts.
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Beatport Adds Afro House Genre Category in Light of Growing International Trends
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Some music distributors like Symphonic strive to help artists and labels navigate through the genre changes
Beatport and Traxsource Genre Updates | Symphonic Distribution
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Apart from FSQ, I do have a career in music technology. When I worked at Gracenote as a Director of Music Solutions, we were trying to sell audio focused machine learning solutions into these retail music platforms that would allow them properly and accurately classify the music being distributed into them versus relying on record label and distributor produced genre tags, which could be sort of gamed to allow certain songs on to charts with less sales action. The technology would actually listen to the new song and compare the audio against a library of million existing tracks to come up with a mathematical breakdown of genres in the track.
For instance, there aren’t as many NuDisco songs being sold on Beatport as there are Tech House songs. A look at the user generated Beatport DJ charts show me there are ~225,000 such charts belonging to Tech House genre, and only ~9000 such charts belonging to NuDisco. So obviously NuDisco isn’t as popular on Beatport ; why wouldn’t an artist tag their banger Tech House song as a NuDisco tune to give it a greater chance to climb the charts.
The solution I mention is called Sonic Style and it could be applied to prevent “genre falsification” though I’m not sure that was not the primary use case for the solution.
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Musiio.AI is another machine learning solution that could be used to accurately genre tag the music labels and artists are distributing into Beatport, Juno Download and Traxsource.
A look at the Top 100 songs classified as “Afro House” on Beatport currently. I will go give them a listen, but I am sure not all of them are pure “Afro House” — some may be taking advantage of the classification to get on to this chart.
Another HUGE reason artists and labels maintain music exclusivity with Beatport is they have media partnerships with DJ Mag and Mixmag, and they distribute their top charts into these magazines.
Juno Download’s sister site Juno Vinyl — their physical sales charts also appear in Mixmag. Meanwhile, Traxsource media partners do NOT include magazines that print the site’s top sellers charts, but the platform has some pretty big and important partners in terms of events, like Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) and Miami Music Week.
How are songs’ chart status displayed on Juno Download, Traxsource, and Beatport?
Each retail site demonstrates a song’s progress, in terms of charting differently. Each of these services have individual URL web links for each song in their library.
On that individual song page, Beatport does NOT display its progress on the Bestseller genre charts, but does display what important editorial driven charts include the song — usually created by other famous DJs as well as Beatport’s editorial staff.
Let’s look at artist Torren Foot’s “More Life (Extended Mix)” which is #2 on the Beatport Top 10 Bestsellers chart week of 27.1.2020. The tune is also available on Traxsource and Juno Download.
The Beatport track page for Torren Foot’s “More Life (Extended Mix)” shows the many DJ curated charts that include “More Life”. There are apparently 54 official DJ charts that feature the tune. That’s not surprising considering it’s the #2 best selling track on Beatport. Also remember there are over 225,000 user driven “tech house” charts on Beatport, so of course it could also be included on many of these that aren’t official charts.
To be an “official DJ chart”, a DJ has to migrate their user created chart and place it on their DJ / artist profile page using the back end content system (I covered this earlier in the post).
It’s a bit harder to find what Beatport staff curated charts “More Life” is included on considering there are 54 charts that have the tune. But within that group of 54 charts, I found “More Life” is included on only two editorial charts: “Beatport Staff Picks 2019 — Tech House” and “Beatport Best New Tech House — November 2019”.
Also, “More Life” is #46 on the “Beatport Staff Picks 2019 — Tech House” chart, almost at the bottom of the top 50 picks. In this case, I do not think Beatport editorial charts are driving the tune’s success.
Traxsource tracks song charting on individual song pages, almost the same way as Beatport, almost the same, one minor difference. Here’s the track page for Torren Foot’s “More Life (Extended Mix)” on Traxsource.
The difference here that Traxsource reveals the chart position where the DJ has placed the tune. So for instance, Cassimm, the latest DJ to feature Torren Foot’s “More Life”, put it the tune at #3 on his Traxsource chart. Beatport does NOT display the chart position of a tune until you click into the actual chart ; there’s no preview of the tune’s position on a DJ chart.
Juno Download also includes on individual song pages what DJs have featured that song on their charts. But Juno is a bit more subliminal about featuring the DJ and editorial chart action.
See the red circled area here in the track page for Roisin Murphy’s “Narcissus” — a few DJ names are listed under the section “Played By”. Clicking through to the DJ names listed there will take you to specific DJ charts that included her track. So the actual charts or the song positions aren’t listed, but the DJs supporting the tune are.
I had to use the Roisin Murphy example because it does not look like any DJs using Juno Download have charted Torren Foot’s hit “More Life”. That’s likely because “More Life” is a tech-house tune, and Juno Download’s consumer base skews more towards DJs who prefer Disco, NuDisco and Balearic tunes.
Disparities in top songs charting across platforms … Beatport, Traxsource and Juno Download
While Torren Foot’s “More Life (Extended Mix)” holds #2 top selling position on Beatport (it was #1 in December 2019) it’s not enjoying as much popularity on Traxsource and Juno Download.
On Traxsource, another version of “More Life” — the Mat.Joe remix — is in the top 100 overall best sellers currently sitting at #52 at the time of writing (26.1.20) this post.
Traxsource still classifies the Mat.Joe remix as “Tech House” like the original version, but to me this remix feels funkier. The Mat.Joe effort adds a few classic disco samples strewn across the six minute tune, which results in it being less angular and more groovy than the original.
This remix was just released about a week ago (17.1.20) so maybe it will rise on the charts across all three dance music retailers as time goes on.
Keep in mind the extended original mix of “More Life” was released on 22.11.19 so it’s had more time to rise to the top Beatport.
But that theory doesn’t always hold true, that more time allows you to get to the top of the bestsellers charts.
The original mix is NOT in the top 100 sellers on Traxsource, while it’s still #2 bestseller overall across all genres on Beatport.
On the Traxsource “Tech House” genre chart, “More Life (Extended Original Mix)” sits at #20.
I could not find “More Life” on the 500 top sellers at Juno Download. In the “Tech House” genre chart on Juno it sits much further down in the top standings
Again, the Beatport audience leans more to consumers / DJs who like “Tech House” and so a record that is squarely in that genre — like Torren Foot’s “More Life” — will do well there.
“Tech House” songs make up the largest majority of the Beatport 100 currently (27.1.20), with 21% all tracks being of that genre. The second largest genre at Beatport is “Techno” comprising 14% of the chart make up currently.
“More Life” is also enjoying a good run at Traxsource but the top of Traxsource’s best seller chart is topped by other type of house music beyond the more minimal style of “Tech House” so the tune is not climbing into that top 10 best sellers arena like it is at Beatport.
The Traxsource Top 100 is currently dominated by “Soulful House” — 21% of the chart — while generically labeled “House” makes up 18%.
70% of Juno Download’s Top 100 best selling tracks at time of writing this post are of the “Drum and Bass” genre. It’s not even close for the next top selling genre at Juno, which is Disco/Nu-Disco at 19% of top 100 sales.
So you see why Torren Foot’s “More Life” barely had a chance to crack the top 500 best sellers at Juno Download.
One important note here — the genre tags in the chart above — are the actual genre names that each service titles them on their platform. For instance, Juno Download calls their tag “Disco / NuDisco” while that genre tag essentially for the same genre, “Nu Disco / Disco” at Beatport, and is a bit more specific at Traxsource and is called “NuDisco / Indie Dance”.
I think it makes sense for an artist and their label to focus their marketing efforts on the music retailer that sells the most of their type of music. The flip side of this coin is that for instance if you have a “Tech House” track you’re selling on Beatport, it’s going to be much tougher to outsell your peers in a crowded field.
Another reason FSQ sticks to Traxsource for our marketing efforts, is because the site has a great focus on “Soul / Funk / Disco” which is the genre they’ve classified us in. The other retailers tend to shun these labels which are a bit more old school, so we appreciate the love we get for our music under this genre grouping. The site also ranked FSQ as #48 on the Top 50 “Soul / Funk / Disco” artist list for 2018, and #75 out of 100 Top Traxsource “Soul / Funk / Disco” artists in 2019.
Meanwhile, I would have said FSQ is a “Disco / Nu-Disco” artist, and actually on Beatport the majority of our catalog is classified as such. At Traxsource, I’m happy to take their varying classification.
Really we are all over the place stylistically, that’s the reason why FSQ is just an acronym for “Funk STYLE Quality”, because we flip a lot of musical styles. I just looked at our FSQ music on Beatport and our individual tunes have been classified as “Acid”, “House”, “Indie Dance”, “Electronica / Downtempo” beyond just simple “Disco / Nu Disco”.
Even if a digital distributor delivers your music tagged as one genre, it’s really at the digital music retailer’s discretion to decide what genre your individual tracks are, or what kind of artist you are overall.
For instance, Traxsource has a dedicated A&R team listening to new albums, EP, and individual tracks plus fresh artists who are releasing music into their platform. This team meets weekly to determine how to genre classify the new artists and their incoming releases.
I do not have insights on what kind of marketing efforts Torren Foot and his record label Sweat Club put behind their “More Life” release. While it may not have been exclusive to Beatport, Torren Foot and the label certainly told all the fans to pre-order the track on Beatport before it’s 22.11.19 release date.
Also the Linkfire multi-service link to the release places Beatport in front of all other services
I can see the bulk of Torren Foot’s marketing push for “More Life” went towards getting people to buy the tune on Beatport. While that’s not an exclusive per se, it’s certainly a focus on one platform over the others.
I note he did NOT get a feature on the new editorial site — Beatportal — but he did get a prominent DJ chart feature on Beatport.
Sometimes the artist does not really have a say on which retail platform their new music will have a feature or exclusive.
While FSQ remains pretty focused on marketing our music on Traxsource, our new FSQ remix for ULTRA Records artist DejaVilla is available exclusively on Beatport. This is a permanent exclusive, not a windowed one — at least the for extended version of the remix which will remain only for sale at Beatport, and not be available for streaming anywhere. The radio edit is on all streaming platforms.
Feel Me Running Away feat. Kat C.H.R (FSQ Extended Caribbean Disco Remix) by DejaVilla, Kat C.H.R…
Download Now on Beatport.
ULTRA Records is pretty much the premiere electronic dance music record label for almost two decades now, so it makes sense they focus their release efforts on Beatport, as the genres on the platform align with the sonic vision of the label.
ULTRA has premiere EDM and dance artists like deadmau5, Black Coffee, Kaskade, Kygo, Steve Aoki, so many others. I imagine fans follow their record label page on Beatport, so I’m certainly not complaining about our FSQ remix for DejaVilla being exclusive to Beatport via ULTRA. As you see we get a feature on their record label page .. that’s pretty cool!
So now you have some insights into why artists do retail download sales exclusives, both “windowed” and permanent exclusives. The latter method is meant to help artists climb on to best sellers charts, primarily on Beatport.
Footnote: More on DJ Charts, and also what about streaming exclusives?
Beyond the two reasons I cited earlier — making it more difficult to acquire music or downgrading audio quality — there is another reason why exclusivity can be a pain for DJs, who of course are also music consumers. Let me explain the third reason.
Beyond Traxsource, we offer our FSQ Top 10 Monthly chart as a streaming chart for those who just want to stream our selections versus buy them. This chart goes to Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube as an FSQ curated playlist. Apple Music just started offering artists the ability to create playlists, so we will soon start making these chart playlists for Apple Music too.
We offer the FSQ Top 10 chart on these select platforms via a Linkfire multi-service link.
You can get the at the FSQ Top 10 January 2020 chart here; on it you can BUY as files at Traxsource, or stream a playlist version of the chart on Spotify, SoundCloud, or YouTube.
#1 for January is Crush Club’s “My Man” featuring Nicki B The Vagabond. Fortunately, the track is available on all of those platforms, so the tune is #1 on all of FSQ Top 10 charts for the month.
Back in November, we put quite a luscious dance pop track by Canadian producer NICOLAAS and Australian vocalist Chela at the top of our FSQ Top 10 chart.
Unfortunately, this tune is not available at any dance floor music retailer — it’s completely missing at Beatport, Juno Download and Traxsource. So the duo are not #1 on our Traxsource chart for the month.
Do a side by side comparison between this FSQ Top 10 November 2019 Traxsource chart to our streaming chart for the same month (available on Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube). FSQ Top 10 November 2019 Spotify streaming chart is on the right of Traxsource.
While NICOLAAS and Chela’s “XXO” (#1 on our streaming chart for November 2019) is not available on any dance music retailer’s site, Franc Moody’s “Terra Firma” follows a different pattern.
This groovy tune by THE UK funk band of the moment IS available on Juno Download but NOT on Beatport or Traxsource. We don’t make charts for Juno Download, so it does not appear in the download portion of our chart. The tune is #7 on our streaming chart for the month.
Finally Josin and Roosevelt’s slick and moody NuDisco stunner — “In The Blank Space” — IS available on BOTH Beatport and Juno Download, but NOT Traxsource. Again, we don’t make charts for those platforms, so Josin is missing from the download portion of our chart.
Overall, and not to confuse you, we actually chose 11 songs for the month of November because we considered “XXO” and Moon Boots “Tied Up” to be basically both #1 tunes for the month — a tie up, no pun intended.
So now we had 3 songs missing from our chart on Traxsource, with “XXO”, “Terra Firma”, “In The Blank Space” out because of lack of availability of those tunes there.
So 11–3 = 8 tunes on Traxsource for a top 10 chart. So we put two runner ups from our favorite selections list in the place of the missing tunes.
FSQ Top 10 November 2019
Vocalists Chela + Steven Klavier practically tied for #1 slot as featured artists, respectively on Nicolaas + Moon…
It sort of annoys us — we want to have chart consistency between the retail side of our FSQ Top 10 chart (Traxsource) and the streaming side (Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube). Shouldn’t the music be available everywhere?
I explained some of the reasons why an artist would be only on one dance music retailer, as it is with Franc Moody and their single “Terra Firma” which can be found only on Juno Download.
Maybe their label Juicebox Recordings was expecting by keeping the dance music sales to one platform, that the group could chart their “Terra Firma” on Juno Download’s genre chart for Disco/NuDisco. That’s how Juno Download classifies the tune by genre.
So did Franc Moody chart by being exclusive here? A current review of the top 500 selling tracks for this genre on the site finds Franc Moody and “Terra Firma” completely absent from Disco/NuDisco best sellers chart.
Buy Terra Firma by Franc Moody on MP3, WAV, FLAC, AIFF & ALAC at Juno Download
Terra Firma by Franc Moody on MP3, WAV, FLAC, AIFF & ALAC at Juno Download Franc MoodyJuicebox Recordings DJ-friendly…
Meanwhile, why would an artist shun dance music retailers all together, as NICOLAAS and Chela have done? Could it be they want to increase their streaming numbers and keep the focus on streaming?
The reasons are unclear and could be specific to every case we talk about here, each individual song. From what I learned in talking to some of the major dance music retailers is that a lot of times they really DO want to carry a popular track but there are too many business restrictions. For instance, record label has strict rules about the territories / countries the song can be sold in. Those kind of geographic rules would make it too difficult to actually make the song available on that retail platform without major technology adjustments or an additional layer of business logic.
This is a good place to stop and go to part two of “Don’t Split The Streams”. Now that I have covered how artists and labels try to maximize exclusives and features with music retailers, I will now move over to streaming.
Read Next — Part 2 — where I explore why artists may want to focus on particular streaming platforms especially considering how artists’ streams are counted differently on various platforms.
Don’t Split the Streams! — Part 2 — When do artists get “stream counts”
A look at music marketing campaigns — including song exclusivity to specific music streaming platforms, and how music…
PS — if you do want to DJ NICOLAAS and Chela’s “XXO” it is available as a high quality audio file via Quobuz — since it’s not available on Beatport, Juno Download or Traxsource.