Drama is brewing in the Beatport world today. After Mixmash Records' latest release, a collaboration between Laidback Luke and Tujamo titled "S.A.X.," hit number one in their charts, Beatport made the harsh decision to take it down. Their justification? An alleged breach of chart eligibility policy.
After 5PM last Friday (Jan. 9th) Mixmash released an annoucement offering a refund to anyone who had purchased "S.A.X" between 5PM Friday and the end of that day on Beatport. While controversial to people who get all their music on-demand from Spotify or SoundCloud, such practices are in fact common among dance record labels. As Mixmash made clear in a statement released earlier today, they're far from the worst perpetrators. Labels have been known to offer free remixes, free show tickets, and even helicopter rides to boost increasingly sluggish mp3 sales.
Interestingly however, Mixmash's to offer refunds to buyers only resulted in 33 total requests. The track continued to rise the charts and, on Wednesday Jan. 14, reached number one across Beatport. If fans' reluctance to refund their purchases and "S.A.X.'s" peak position should tell us anything, it's that it deserved its ranking. Mixmash founder Laidback Luke voiced his disappointement at Beatport's decision on Twitter.
According to Mixmash themselves, Beatports brash move is "Something that we feel reflects negatively and unfairly on Mixmash, Laidback Luke and Tujamo."
There are two key points to take away from this recent controversy: First, Beatport aren't afraid to go after long-time affiliates. Laidback Luke has been in the game as long as any of the Beatport generation and certainly wouldn't be our first choice to target. Second, the days of releasing mp3s simply are over. Market data tells us again and again that single-track purchases are in decline, and labels have been responding with increasingly risky incentives like the above.
We reached out to Mixmash Managing Director and Co-Founder, Olga Heijns for comment:
THUMP: Why do you think this release was targeted in particular? What (if anything) differed with this promotion from other releases?
Mixmash: Our position is that we have seen similar campaigns out there before us. The chart is a Beatport initiative and it's their prerogative what they decide what are considered fair marketing and promotional practices. All we ask is that these rules are clear to everyone so it truly leaves a level playing field with no room for interpretation.
Are practices like offering refunds on tracks common place among labels? When did they start coming into effect and what was the reasoning?
You can find a number of campaign examples with the return receipt model if you search online. The importance of charts is evident and as long as any relevant charts have existed marketing and promotional campaigns have been tailored to create maximum impact. It's as straightforward as that. You bust your tail to create hits.
Will this action from Beatport affect the way that you release music with them?
No on the contrary. We commend Beatport in having the debate with us in such a transparant and forthcoming manner. The debate about chart rules will expand to the public domain because of it and that starts right here and right now.
What's your plan to distribute "S.A.X." now?
The record continues to grow both in DJ support radio plays and sales. Next will be the release on iTunes. The record lends itself as a perfect background for a vocal which is what we re working on and which we ll release in the next few months. For "S.A.X." This is only the beginning of the ride.
Beatport and Mixmash's official statements can be read here.