Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nettwerk Quietly Fumbles Launch Of Singles-Only EDM Label Nettrax

Clyde Smith/Hypebot
Last week Nettwerk Music Group announced the launch of an innovative singles-only EDM label called Nettrax. The news came out via a Billboard exclusive and a Beatport release plus free streaming via SoundCloud. The combination of a major industry brand, Billboard, and a major electronic music platform, Beatport, should have resulted in widespread attention. But all evidence to date suggests that whatever additional work needed to be done has yet to accomplish the most basic of marketing goals.

Nettwerk Music Group announced its new singles-only label, Nettrax, describing it as:
"a full-service electronic music label that will directly solicit and launch standout tracks and albums from a diverse and growing talent pool of musicians and artists in the electronic music scene. With each release, the Los Angeles-based company will provide marketing strategies, as well as digital and/or physical distribution."
It's a smart idea and they're planning to basically sign deals for one single at a time with the possibility of moving up to an album deal with Nettwerk.

But if their process of announcing the label is any indication of their marketing savvy, I'm not sure why any rising young dj would want to work with Nettrax.

Instead of widely releasing the news, assuming that most publications didn't simply ignore such a timely press release, Nettwerk chose to announce the unique new imprint via a Billboard exclusive and a Beatport release of the first single, "We Are The Future", from Andy Caldwell featuring Angela McCluskey.

Though Beatport releases are typically designed to reach the electronic music community while Billboard would be expected to reach the music industry plus web-browsing consumers, the response appears to be incredibly muted across the board. A few media outlets, such as Vibe and MusicWeek, picked it up but, despite the fact that both Billboard and Vibe posted the below SoundCloud playlist, there seems to be little response from listeners.



For example, though you can't tell how many times the tracks have been played, as of early Tuesday morning, February 5th, the single and remixes have only 3 likes and the Nettrax stream on SoundCloudcurrently has only 8 followers.

In addition, though the announcement includes the SoundCloud widget leading listeners back to the Nettrax account on SoundCloud, the only other website mentioned is for nettrax.com which currently features a generic splash page that clearly came courtesy of the webhost and includes such sound advice as:
"Let your customers know why they should explore your site;"
and,
"Convince customers of your site's value to them"
Going without mention in the announcement is the existence of a Nettrax Facebook page with 11 likes and a Twitter account with 10 followers as of this morning.

Honestly, though I advocate not losing one's focus by emphasizing vanity metrics, having such a negligible social media response should be a point of concern.

Based on the announcement at Nettwerk, which appears to be the previously distributed press release, Nettrax launched January 29th and the "We Are The Future" single will see a "worldwide release" on February 26th with exclusive availabilty on Beatport till then.

So maybe the idea is to actually get all the work done in time for whatever is planned come February 26th. But this is the web. The single is also available on SoundCloud and the announcement has enough visibility that it looks like a huge FAIL.

This initial stumble raises some questions including:
What is the value of "exclusive" Billboard coverage?
How should a rising EDM dj interpret these initial data points regarding Nettrax as a useful vehicle for gaining attention?
Who is responsible for this embarassing marketing clusterfuck?
When I initially planned this post I expected to be describing an innovative new EDM imprint and then considering it in light of the claim by David Emery of Beggars Group that the single is dead and we've entered the age of the track. Honestly, I expected to poke a hole or two in Emery's thesis but I guess reality is schooling me yet again:
"Online the concept of singles really has no meaning. If a song is online – and when I say online I mean streaming or available for download somewhere – then it is 'out."
I thought Emery's game was simply the kind of rhetorical manuever that annoys me with its emphasis on the death of something that still lives, even if in lesser form, and its play on definitions based on increasingly outdated industry standards.

But at least I now understand that Nettrax is not a singles-only label, it's a "tracks-only" label, and I wish everyone associated with this project the best of luck.

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