In January 2005 the masterminds behind Beatport.com launched Version 2.0 of their online music store. At the time, Beatport was a fairly modest operation, with roughly 14,000 users. But the niche concept had epic potential, even if only a small number of people outside the dance-music community recognized the brand.
Since then, Beatport has grown substantially, with about 350,000 people actively downloading music today. More than that, though, it has quietly revolutionized the distribution of electronic music in much the same way that iTunes has altered digital music delivery for the unwashed masses. And now, two-and-a-half years later, the Beatport brain trusts are about to change the game again with Beatsource.com, its new hip-hop arm.
"What Beatsource is going to do is to put the business back into the hands of indie labels and artists, essentially, first and foremost," says François Baptiste, urban music development manager for Beatsource. "I think it's going to allow artists to make creative music, and by doing that, they won't have to worry about budgets as much. You don't have to spend any more money on the process of printing up CDs and all that stuff. Basically all you need now is a studio and some artwork. Shoot it to Beatsource, and it's up."
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Not only that, but also the music will be offered in multiple formats (320-bit MP3s, 192-bit MP4s, and uncompressed WAV files), as well as various mixes (clean, dirty, a cappellas, and instrumentals). And like the early incarnation of its electronic counterpart, Beatsource will initially be geared toward DJs.
"This is a DJ-friendly site for the DJ, just like Beatport is," Baptiste points out. "The music is sold in non-DRM, non-encrypted files. If a DJ is at a club and is like, 'Damn, I need that new, hot song,' you can't directly download from iTunes, because it's a whole long process. First of all, they sell their stuff in an MP4 format. Ours are sold as MP3s, MP4s, and WAVs — they can download it right through the wi-fi in the club. Go to Beatsource.com and — bam! — they can play it instantaneously with whatever method they want."
When Beatsource launches (its target date remains a vague "winter 2008"), it will be stocked with 20,000 titles from hundreds of labels — everything from those hard-to-find titles, to classic hip-hop from imprints like Delicious Vinyl and Nervous, to current hip-hop releases.
And so the Beat goes on.