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EDM’s increasing commercial clout has been a big story over the last few years – but, inevitably, the increasing corporate interest in the sector has had some malign consequences. 

Some quick context: SFX – the company behind concert giants Live Nation – have been one of the dominant commercial forces to capitalise on the Stateside EDM explosion in recent years, with acquisitions and investments including promoters Made Event, Totem and ID&T.

Earlier this year, the company snapped up online dance music retailer Beatport  for about $50m. The purchase seemed like something of a coup at the time: Beatport has around 40m users, and is something of an online rallying point for DJs and revellers involved in the EDM explosion. As SFX boss Robert Sillerman put it: “Beatport gives us direct contact with the DJs and lets us see what’s popular and what’s not. Most important, it gives us a massive platform for everything related to EDM.”

As TechCrunch report, the relationship appears to have turned very sour indeed, with SFX laying off a large portion of the company’s staff in a bid to streamline its operations. 20 employees working out of Beatport’s Denver HQ, including the bulk of the company’s engineering team, have been laid off, and six engineers in the company’s San Francisco office – essentially their entire SF team – have also been jettisoned. Long-term employees are among the casualties, including team members who’ve been with Beatport since its inception in 2003.

TechCrunch quote a source from inside the company – and they don’t mince their words:

 “[SFX] is not concerned with anything but the store. It was crazy. It was a fucking bloodbath for sure. Some of the people laid off were working there for almost ten years.”

The source also claims that Beatport were originally planning to lay off their San Francisco workforce by conference call, but decided to do so in person after fears that disgruntled employees would vandalise the office upon receiving the news.

SFX have issued the following statement:

“With the additional resources provided by SFX, we are making significant new investments in Beatport and focusing on providing the best possible experience for our users – the DJ, the producer, the labels and the entire Electronic Music Culture community. To allow us to adapt and improve our service, it was necessary to make some organizational changes. We have closed our San Francisco office, reorganized our engineering team, and cut some positions in Denver. Beatport has always been about innovation and connection and these moves allow us to focus on that. With the recently announced acquisitions of PayLogic and Arc90, this refocus on maximizing Beatport as the definitive site for everything related to Electronic Music is indicative of our commitment to igniting the simmering Revolution of this astounding movement, Electronic Music Culture. We look forward to unveiling a number of exciting new technology initiatives in 2014.”

TechCrunch report that the site has been operating at a loss, losing $1m on $12.1m of revenue in the first quarter of 2013. Beatport is currently being operated by a skeleton staff, and it’s rumoured that less lucrative features like Beatport DJs and Beatport Play are in line to be culled.

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