For the past year, I’ve been trying to contact both Beatport’s founder and Biz Dev rep with little success. I guess they feel they’re too self-important to respond to phone messages or emails. While they’re DJing in Denver or out skiing on the slopes, let’s not rest on our laurel’s fellas, because what happened to Friendster (MySpace ring a bell?) or the record industry (does p2p sound familiar?) can happen to you too.
You know us dance music folk–ego’s a mile a long, can’t call anyone back, forget where we came from. Sound familiar? In the fast paced web world, that’ll get you only so far. Since my transition from the dance music industry (where a college degree is mostly unheard of) to VP of Music at StarStyle (where you’re up against PhD’s from Stanford and Wharton MBA’s), I’ve experienced first-hand what it’s like to work at the top levels of the music industry. That being said, I think I’ve earned the right to critique the business models of others. That brings us to Beatport’s new affiliate program.
Haven’t these guys learned that throwing a bunch of banners and text links on a few dance music sites and blogs aren’t going to help them sell more music? Yeah, maybe they’ll sell a few tracks here and there, but not the volume they’re hoping, because they’ve missed the mark. Their new partnership with Linkshare (which I’d been looking forward to) simply misses the point, fails to execute in a Web 2.0 era and can be interpreted as a ploy to get dance music sites to plaster marketing banners on their web sites for free in the hope that traffic will be driven to Beatport resulting in both sales and brand awareness. Remember, Beatport gets all the love while the web publisher gets a little pat on the back and maybe just a few bucks for helping out.
Okay, so I’m guilty by association, as I have succumbed and posted a Beatport banner (now plastered in the right hand nav bar). Since I purchase all my dance music for my mixes from Beatport and have spent probably over $500 the last 365 days, I thought I might as well support where I can, even though I have a huge problem with their new affiliate program. Sure! I’ll display it while I criticize it, in the hope that my voice affects change at the company who can never call you back because they’re too busy snowboarding. Maybe it’s the mile high air slowing their brains? I dunno.
So, let me tell you why this new strategy is a problem.
First, the days of affiliate programs are numbered. Why should any web publisher add any banner to their web site without getting paid for clicks to retail? With web real estate infinitely more valuable today, any advertising placed on a web site should be paid for either through CPM, CPC and now CPE.
Let’s define these acronyms. CPC or cost per click is when a person click on an ad, whether graphcial or text, and the retailer pays the web publisher for that lead. CPM is cost per thousand banner impressions. For every thousand banner impressions the web publisher is paid a real dollar amount. CPE is cost per engagement. When a user sees the name of brand or retailer after performing some type of interactive action in Flash or Ajax, the web publisher is paid for those interactions or “engagements.” Value to the brand was created by association, justifying the web publisher charging an interaction fee.
Most web publishers don’t realize that affiliate programs have a policy to only pay commissions within a certain time period. Once a user clicks through from the banner ad to the web site, that user is tracked for that session only. Alternatively, a cookie is placed in that users browser, which can expire after 24 hours. If the user returns to Beatport after the cookie has expired, the originator of the lead is out of luck. I have not yet read Beatport’s policy on paying commissions.
As a matter of fact, I just went back to Linkshare to read the commission policy and it’s not readily available, so I’ll have to email them, which probably won’t get a reply. Actually, I’ve NEVER received a reply to ANY email or phone call to Beatport, of which I’ve sent many and called numerous times and left messages.
Of course, that irks me to no end, because if I didn’t call people back at my job, we’d never do any business and people would be flaming me on their blogs and newsgroups. I’d be fired and there would be someone here tomorrow to take my place.
The worst thing you can do for your brand is ignore your partners and customers. It’s Business 101. That simple. When you don’t respond, it leaves the door open for competition who will blow you out of the water with better customer support and senior management availability to negotiate and make deals with partners.
From one owner to another, I say to Jonas Tempel: Don’t sleep. People out here are watching you and there’s a lot of people who want your business. It’s no time to sit around and think no one is gunning for you, because they are. I’m living proof of that. I live in New York while you sit in Denver. It’s brutal here. While you’re out there having a ball, there are people here thinking up ways to take Beatport’s customers. That’s just business. Nothing personal.
Okay, now for problem #2. Beatport has created artist widgets that can be embedded into MySpace pages, but why haven’t they created a way for a user like myself, who is purchasing my tracks off Beatport for my mix shows, to create a widget of all the tracks I use in my mix sets and post them on my blog. This way, my fans, of which there are about 7K a month listening to Netmix, can actually purchase the tracks I’m playing right from my site? Or, at least have an opportunity to know what those tracks are.
Are they going to build this into Beatportal? (By the way, I think Beatportal is a great step in the right direction!) Is this something that’s in the works at Beatport? I would hope so, because if they do what I’m suggesting, then I finally have the ability to create mix sets and at the very least sell the tracks legally from my site. Sure, my users may want the entire mix, and that’s another problem that needs resolution, but let’s stick to the main issue at hand.
Jonas, you need to start working on a widget that users can add their purchases or favorites to, so they can embed this widget that lists out the tracks we’ve purchased and are playing. Not just the tracks from one artist. Start building, because this is going to be a huge opportunity for you. Maybe you’re already thinking about it, I don’t know. If you returned a phone call, I might even give you more ideas
That brings me to point number three. Beatport’s affiliate program is weak, because you can’t select any track from the catalog and post to your site as a simple text link. I might not care about the banner they are providing, because those artists only mean something to Beatport’s editorial staff. We are in Web 2.0 my friends, where users dictate what they want and hate to be told what to do. Let us pull any track from Beatport.com and list it on our web sites. Why do I have to take banners that have A. no relevancy to me, and B. are really just an advertisement for Beatport.com?
For such a forward thinking bunch, let’s go back to the drawing board and think it through a bit harder to come up with something that’s really robust, instead of copping out and providing a boring, sucky affiliate program through Linkshare. Truth be told, it’s a joke and the Beatport guys need to step it up a notch and play in the big leagues.