Beatport's New Affiliate Program Falls Short

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.

Beatport Linkshare Affiliate Page

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.

Roger Sanchez Again Beatport Widget

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.

Liked it? Take a second to support Netmix.com on Patreon!

4 comments

  1. Tony,

    Thanks for writing about your experience with Beatport. One of the most hilarious aspects of your piece is that we sit in Colorado like we are totally clueless to what is going on in the world. I'm pretty sure the status of Beatport refutes such a low ball comment. Nothing has come easy for this team and I'm certainly not going to defend the professionalism of our organization against such irresponsible claims. However, its good to read these blogs both in praise and in criticism, and it gives us all a reality check from time to time. Your comments regarding our initiatives are of course welcome as we live in the public eye and try very hard to consistently deliver. Despite your claims to the contrary. The affiliate program is new to Beatport and is being well received within the community. Of course over time it will receive some tweaks but we are happy with its initial roll out and we take your criticism of our plan as great feedback. Building these tools is hard to do and this is just our first step into this world. The product we have launched is going to work great for all involved and will continue to improve over time.

    Tony, most of your criticism is great. But don't make your self look ignorant by oversimplifying what we do and making hysterical claims. You lose a lot of credibility when you have very good points that we take seriously. Making things personal in a professional environment discredits what would have been a great written piece.

    And please, don't try to make yourself sound smart because you work around smart people. Your assumption that you are somehow more educated than this team is insulting. Just as yourself, we have Ivy League MBAs and a few ex McKinsey consultants within our ranks. You'd be surprised with my background and all that I have accomplished. Take a look at http://www.factorylabs.com a company that I started 10 years ago that works with some of the top brands in the world. From Denver I might add. My fellow founding partners Eloy Lopez and Brad Roulier are also very successful and your comments somehow aimed to try and diminish their talent. These are guys that have worked tremendously hard with me to help bring electronic music to the forefront of our culture.

    Your criticism of our player is of course welcome. It is a great tool that is being updated as we speak so that you can select an individual track. Again, the complexity of doing so makes it necessary to release things in stages. We have nearly 200,000 unique players out on the net with more than that from the code replications. A new release is coming soon that will add this functionality.

    Bottom line, you can critique our company any way you like. Just be honest with the people that read your blog. We didn't call you back because you wanted free tracks. No one at Beatport even gets free tracks. Why would we give that luxury to you? We don't even know you and just because we share one common friend, doesn't give you the status to request or demand anything special from this company.

    You seem like a sharp guy and I'd be happy to connect with you when I'm in NYC this month. If you want to meet, you have my email. Shoot me a line and lets connect.

    Thanks,

    Jonas Tempel
    CEO/Co Founder
    Beatport.com

  2. Tony Zeoli says:

    I've decided not to respond to most of your reply here, as I'll take that up with you personally.

    However, I will say, if you thought I was calling you about "free records," you are seriously mistaken.

    Readers: The "free tracks" comment Jonas cites is in reference to an email I'd sent to Beatport many months ago that went unanswered. I was seeking a possible partnership where, in exchange for promoting Beatport as the sole sponsor of my mix show (because all the tracks are Beatport downloads), I was seeking either free or subsidized tracks in exchange for hosting banner advertising and promotion on Netmix.com. That's a basic biz dev partnership that would have created value for Beatport. However that email, to this day, remains unanswered.

    My mix show is heard in over 200 countries and enjoys over 10K streams a month. One would think that a polite response to decline would have been sufficient. But, there was no reply.

    Since that email, a business opportunity arose that was very challenging. I was seeking Jonas's opinion on becoming the distribution for that opportunity. However, since he never returned my call–nor did his business development person–he wouldn't have known that.

    Although I will reach out to Jonas personally, I want to let the readers know what the real truth is. Remember, NO ONE has ever responded to any email or phone call I've made to Beatport until I wrote this piece.

  3. Jonas, I need to back Tony up on this a wee bit… I tried contacting Beatport.com about an affiliate program opportunity with our site clubZone, and couldn't get a hold of you at all. I tried at least 2-3 times over 2 years, and kept get stuck with junior people pushing the affiliate program on me. I was not left with a good taste in my mouth when senior management doesn't reply. We have a lot we could have offered each other.

    For the record, clubZone pushes well over 1M uniques per month and could very well be one of your top affiliates had someone who had the ability to negotiate or talk outside the scripted box returned my messages.

    On a positive note, i love your site, use it a lot… the only thing i HATE about it is just when i'm about to download a sweet track it says "sorry not available in your area". God damn start being nice to Canadians we are your future source of water.

  4. Tony Zeoli says:

    Mike:

    Thanks for your comment.

    The last I heard from Jonas, he suggested I call him, instead of the other way around. Since I'd already left a few messages for him and never got a return phone call from him or any of the staffers or return emails from whoever is managing the LinkShare affiliate program, I decided not to pick up the phone and reach out. I mean, why should I? We're the customer, but we get treated like second class citizens.

    I'm waiting for the day a new service comes out that promotes the same type of music and has an affiliate program where affiliates are treated as part of the family, not outsiders who are lucky to be aligned with Beatport.

    The failure of many companies is their inability to listen to their customers. The world passes them by and then they ask why? Well, Mike, you and I know why. Because if you operate in a vacuum and you can't see the forest from the trees, then you're making your own bed. Once you're lying in it, looking around you and asking, "how did this happen?" Don't say nobody told you.

    As far as the IP block on countries outside the licensed area, I know there's nothing they can do about that. I'd like them to take it one step further and have some type of identifier that says where the song is available. I have to look into figuring out how to spoof my IP so it looks like I'm in the UK so I can download UK tracks here in the US.

    Best,

    Tony Z.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply