Discussion: What’s the Point of Genres These Days

Following a recent change in genre tags on Beatport, a deep catalog of iconic techno and generally innovative tunes all found themselves listed as leftfield techno. Not that we have anything against leftfield, the worry here is a few extra clicks required to get to the ‘less visible’ genre. This re-opens the age-old argument about genres and their place in the sales marketplace. In the age of streaming, high-quality downloads, and increasing pressure on artist margins, every click counts when monetizing your art. This begs the question as to what role to genres play in dance music categorization and is there a better solution. 

Nowadays, the best DJs don’t adhere to genre boundaries. When labels such as Tennis’ Life & Death release post-punk heaters like the recent heater from Autarkic, it’s a healthy reminder that diversity in A&R truly makes and iconic sound. Most killer labels can hardly be categorized by a single sound. Almost a slap in the face to innovate label bosses, placing releases in a box can be borderline offensive for artist minds looking to break down barriers through catalog diversity. Set aside the loss of revenue by metaphorically putting baby in a corner, what are the effects of arbitrarily tagging a work that artists spend countless nights, months, and even years to create as unique. Obviously, no one can measure the creative impact especially in the argued grey area mess of dance music genres. 

Over the years Beatport has borne the brunt of producers squabbling over genres. Leading the pack as a standard when it comes to high fidelity dance downloads, they seem to have made some sort of effort keeping up with the times in order to serve the marketplace. Adding genres as new sounds emerge and pairing their sales platform with engaging marketing content has all been for industry advancement. We can all image the struggles in balancing the fine line between being true to artists while optimizing revenue from paying users. We get it, the LiveStyle-owned tech company has an obligation to shareholders and blah, blah, blah, but showing some respect to the content owners should be a high priority. We all remember when pop princess T Swift removed her music from Spotify in protest of to company’s choice to not pay artists for free trial subscribers. Could a similar move take place in the dance spectrum as artists/labels continue to grow on independent platforms? We see socials networks like Facebook making a move for music hosting, these one-stop-shops for shareable content and sounds could mean the end for digital distributors without a solid streaming platform.

All in all, we love Beatport and the impact they’ve made on dance music. We wish they hadn’t sold out to slimy Sillerman and his doomed SFX empire, but understand the rent must be paid. Hopefully, the voice of reason from artistic minds keep platforms true to their roots and continue on a sustainable path to empower artists in the ever-changing landscape of music distribution. We aren’t sure if there is any quick solution to the decades-old genre feud, but putting artists in a box definitely isn’t the answer. That said, we’re confident that if there is an alternative to genre titles, the top team at Beatport will pave the way.