Boosting Beatport

So “something” must have happened over at Beatport recently. Normally, they don’t make statements regarding the validity of their charts. This week however, Beatport has posted a curious warning regarding the practice of chart boosting. Not surprisingly, the boosted record or track is removed from the store and the artists and labels who are repeat offenders are banned from the store.

Chart boosting is relatively simple. If you hire someone to purchase your music or collaborate with others for the same purpose, you can get your new track in the genre charts and possibly the Top 100 as well. It’s not that horrific of an idea when it comes to the balance sheet either since the label will make back around 25% or more of their purchase expense on their next statement. It’s a plus for Beatport because those sales are real sales and they get paid. Unfortunately for Beatport, it also harms their reputation.

By pairing chart boosting with a good PR campaign, you can effectively boost an artist’s career and create the next superstar producer. Of course, if you’re a smaller label or an artist without a budget, you won’t have the ability to boost your tracks and thus are unable to compete. That’s great for the major labels and bad for the consumers.

I honestly wish Beatport would have dropped the names of those who have been banned, but they perhaps wisely haven’t. There is no way to tell the motive behind sales and to name names incorrectly would get them into some pretty hot waters legally. Publically, Beatport can only reinforce the fact that their sales charts are based on quantity of sales rather than the quality of the product whiling comforting us with a promise of actions taken behind the scenes.

The sad truth is that Beaport cannot control the purchasing of digital music like they would need to in order to stop the practice. Before they could identify a boosting scheme it probably has already happened and the damage to the charts has been done. There just isn’t a good way to determine which sales are boosted and which ones are not in real time. You have to watch for trends and those take time to develop.

While Beatport can identify the labels and artists involved and take real action against them, the boosters themselves are the hard ones to deal with. Once a booster has been identified and their account deleted, they will simply create a new one. There simply is no way to completely stop this practice or even slow it down.

I don’t like to say this, but Beatport is a victim of these practices just as much as the labels and artists who do not boost their releases. The only difference is that while the reputation of their charts is harmed by boosting, they also profit from it. Maybe it would be comforting to know that some of the revenue from boosted sales is donated to charity, but I wouldn’t expect that to happen.

Again, I’m not so much surprised that Beatport has admitted that their charts are being manipulated as I am the question “why now?” Hypebot claims it might have been as a response to a Facebook post by Kid Keonobi being contacted by a chart boosting service on May 1st. It could have been that InTheMix gave Beatport a heads up on the article they posted on the same day AFTER the release of Beatport’s statement. We may never know the exact reason for this week’s confession, but at least we can take comfort in knowing that we’re not crazy. The charts are being manipulated and probably have been for years. Welcome to the digital age.