14tracks.com – A New Boomkat Offering

I’ve whanged on about Boomkat before. They’re a great example of a niche e-commerce player – although I’m guessing they’re a pretty big niche player now. They sell music online – mainly electronic stuff – they started selling CDs and Vinyl and now their download site is getting pretty awesome too.

Their real strength has always been in their reviews and descriptions of the tracks – if I’d trust anyone in the world to get something right about a bit of electronic music it’d be these guys. It’s not easy writing fresh content around minimal-dub records that are all 12 minutes long and basically sound the same ;-)

They’ve just launched a new site which I really like. It’s called 14tracks.com and each week they editorially pick 14 tracks on a theme and batch them all up together and send out an email and update the site. You can then go and buy the playlist (or bits of it).

Why I like it:

What I don’t like:

  • It’s too expensive and there’s no discounts for buying lots.
  • There’s a couple of tricksy interfacey bits that are a bit yukky.

But what I really like is that it’s like going into a record shop full of really cool muso-DJ types and having them not treat you like a leper. Imagine that!

This time on 14 tracks: “14 tracks of narcotic House”
We just love the kind of slow and sultry House Music that’s been oozing out of the Berlin club scene in recent months. With its origin in the paralysed shuffle of Detroit’s Theo Parrish and Moodymann, this is the kind of music that’s in no rush to draw you in, often making use of deep basslines and crushed percussion to play tricks on the senses. There are direct parallels between these tracks and the more robust patterns that typify Dubstep, and with a woozy aesthetic that makes much of this music sound like it’s about to fall apart there are also direct links with the Wonky hip hop that’s making waves in 2008. Even if you’ve never been into club music, we reckon this is just about as evocative and heady as it gets…

The interesting bit

What’s interesting to me is that they’ve effectively created their own affiliate store. One that feels and behaves totally different from their main store.

I like the fact they’ve taken a bit of a punt on it. But it seems like a pretty logical thing to do. If you’ve got a bunch of people who understand their stock better than anyone else, why not let them repackage it and reformat it in a way that’s right for them and their friends/audience?

  • Why shouldn’t Amazon encourage their Rock buyers set up a site that sells tracks on a black background with lots of fire and frizzy hair on it.
  • Why shouldn’t TopShop encourage their Style Advisors to go and set up their own ‘rival’ sites that editorialise stuff in their own way?

What’s the worst that could happen? I suppose the sites could be shit and make the brand look stupid.

Interestingly 14 Tracks is getting a very mixed response in the comments. But people who like it will use it, and those who don’t won’t. It’d have to be really bloody awful to ever be damaging enough to put people off the Boomkat master brand.

9 thoughts on “14tracks.com – A New Boomkat Offering”

  1. Don’t want to badmouth Boomkat but their reviews are one of the things that really make me uncomfortable. I understand that a shop wants to publicise their goods but Boomkat’s swing between sickeningly sycophantic, ultra-eager and condescending. Its a shame because the shop works like a dream and they get the good stuff in stock quick. Might just be me but I detect something not genuine about them…

  2. what do you think people mean when they say the design is a “bit too web 2.0″?

  3. Hi Iain,

    Just wanted to say hello and that we really appreciate you taking the time to mention boomkat and 14 Tracks. We’ve put the site together because there’s such an emphasis on new releases pretty much everywhere (including boomkat) and we were trying to think of a way we could highlight music we liked regardless of how old or new it was. It’s also meant to be a much simpler entry-point to discovering music which is why we’ve tried to keep things straightforward with the design of the site and so on. Unfortunately We weren’t able to launch the site with bundle prices because we needed to get permission from the labels, but thankfully this is now in place and buying a selection now costs half price.

    Mat – regarding your comments about our reviews being too gushy or condescending etc, i guess that’s something we hear from people from time to time and have never really responded to because obviously there’s nothing we can do to change anyone’s perception of us, but one thing worth mentioning is that the reviews are written by a small group of people each week and are just a reflection of their own opinion. we don’t claim to be a magazine or anything so we’re aware that our writing style might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we only ever recommend and feature music that we genuinely like and for us that’s the only measure of integrity.

    Incidentally, it would be much easier for us to just use the generic sales notes that labels and distributors supply us with (the logistics of reviewing 100+ items in essentially 2 days can be, and often is, a bit tricky) – but for better or for worse we’ve always written our own reviews and understand that not everyone out there is necessarily going to share our opinion.

    thanks again guys, i’m off to explore the rest of your blog : )

  4. I’m also fond of Boomkat and like the way they go about things. Interesting that some people find the subjective nature of the reviews offputting. That’s the part I enjoy.

    Have you seen Aquarius Records? http://www.aquariusrecords.org/index.html
    I like the fact that when you order stuff from them you get a personal reply from someone at the store and I love the way they do their reviews. They always seems to make wildly obscure stuff sound strangely compelling.

    There’s a typical example on their current record of the week:

    “It may be difficult to believe at this point, but we don’t actually love everything from Finland. Nor do we love everything from Japan. And what might be equally hard to believe, is that we don’t love every band with a crazy name, a monicker equal parts ridiculousness and ultraviolence, Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars, medieval and futuristic. Nor does the presence of flute supersede all other sonic considerations. And being chaotic and damaged and heavy and downright baffling is not, on its own, enough (although it’s very very close).
    But, and this is the very big BUT we must concern ourselves with here, we do love EVERY SINGLE band we’ve heard who hail from Japan, via Finland, with an awesomely over the top super metal name, who are heavy and noisy and mathy and fucked up and sort of black metal, and have tons and tons of FLUTE. But then again, there’s only one band that fits that description. Japan’s Quest For Blood. ”

    It goes on. At some length. In a somewhat crazed manner. But whatever your appetite for flute-based Japanese black metal you have to love that enthusiasm.

  5. Neil – I concur, even if you don’t always agree with the reviews the enthusiasm is brilliant.

    Passion rocks.

    I’ll check Aquarius and also big up the picadilly records guys for their work also…

  6. Second your comments about Boomkat and 14 Tracks – they’ve been doing discounts for a while now when you purchase all 14 tracks in a selection. That’s 14 awesome tunes for less than seven quid. Have also sorted out some rough edges on the download process. These guys listen and respond – it’s great. Kudos to the people at Boomkat – a lesson in how it should be done.

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