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Digital Download Survey 1

Blog | August 25, 2008 | Updated: June 27, 2012 | Posted by Basilisk

Operating a successful psytrance label in today’s market is not an easy thing. Among many other business realities, labels must contend with the widespread availability of illegal downloads–which are often cited as the primary cause for slumping sales figures. But one could not simply say that the psytrance industry is in trouble because people are downloading music illegally–that would be a gross oversimplification. I would argue that psytrance labels have been slow to adapt to changing listener habits. Many people no longer use CDs or other physical media–they have gone completely digital. Are psytrance labels catering to this emerging marketplace? In order to assess the situation I have performed an informal survey to find out how many new CD releases are also available for purchase from some of the major digital download shops.


At the end of August I went back and collected information about every release added to the Saikosounds mail order catalogue in July 2008. I waited a full month to ensure that the labels would have had ample opportunity to upload their releases to various digital download shops. After filtering out a handful of releases that were obviously not related to psytrance, I visited several major digital download shops (Beatport, TrackItDown, Juno Download, and Cytopia) to record which of the remaining 63 releases were available for legal purchase online. Additionally, I entered each title into Google and analyzed the search results for the presence and position of links to physical mail order shops, legal download shops, illegal download links, official release information, and label and artist home pages.

Release List

In case anyone would like to verify my results, here is the full list of releases I was working with:

Astartica – Core Circuit, Astral Waves – Mystique, Audiosex – Female Intuition, Bio Genesis – Harmonic Science, Blanka – Free Flow, Conwerter – It’s Curiosity, Davina – French Progressive, Eat Static – Back To Earth, H.T.N. – Joker, Ka-Sol – Ghost Story, Klangstrahler Projekt – The Secret Files, Kluster – Missing Link, Krunch – Booster, Ludvig and Stelar – Relax, N.O.M. – The Nature Of The Mind, Nitro – Rainforest Culture, Organix – Photosynthesis, Pause – Genetika, Psyboriginal – Unleashed, Psyknights – A Faint Light From The Depth, Psyro View – Dream Chamber, Psyshark – Acid Rules, Reon – Movement, Sphingida – Origin, Tor.Ma In Dub – Big Blue Story, Violet Vision – Heaven Underground, Whicked Hayo – Soundbreakers, X-Noize – Part Of The Plan, XV Kilist – Live For Phonetics, Yudhisthira – Civilization And Transcendance, Zion Linguist – Plugged In, ZubZub – The Powers That Beep, V/A – Afula On II, V/A – Cerveau Et Petite Cuillere, V/A – Desert Dreaming: Part 2 – Moonrise, V/A – Emptinesses, V/A – Fantazma, V/A – French Plaisir, V/A – Freshly Cut Tomato, V/A – Friendly Fiends, V/A – Groovescapes, V/A – Hadravision, V/A – Overmind, V/A – Prakriti Engine, V/A – Psionic Moove, V/A – Psycrowdelica Festival 2008, V/A – Relax Mode, V/A – Retrodelic Vibes 4, V/A – Secret Vision, V/A – Solarprogressiv, V/A – Soul Vibration #002, V/A – Space Pirates Revolution, V/A – Thank You For Flying Utopia, V/A – The Riddle Of Isla De Pascua, V/A – Tree Dimensional, V/A – Trip Formation, V/A – True Story, V/A – Unlimited, V/A – Violent Diamond, V/A – Vuuv Festival 2008, V/A – What’s Up Pussy, V/A – Yggdrasounds, and V/A – Zenith.

Bold indicates that a release was found for sale at one of the digital download shops in the survey.


Only 14 (22%) of the 63 releases listed at Saikosounds were available for purchase from one or more of the digital download shops I surveyed. Beatport and JunoDownload both hosted 9 (15%) of these releases, TrackItDown offered 4 (although 2 of these were only available in MP3 format), and none were found at Cytopia, the only digital download shop on the list that specifically targets psytrance listeners. This last bit is particularly disheartening–read last week’s post about Cytopia for more about that.

Some labels appear to be slow in updating their catalogues. Roughly 9 releases made in July 2008 were put out by labels that had older material up for sale. We cannot draw any solid conclusions from this piece of information however–the situation may result from inattentiveness, dissatisfaction with the shop or digital sales in general, the late summer slump (everyone is off at the festivals), or a conscious business strategy (perhaps they are limiting the immediate availability of digital media to boost CD sales or something). In any event, consumers wishing to legally download the new release from these labels have no option at the present time. Back in 2003, Yaniv Tal of Cosmophilia argued in his article The Flop Industry that psytrance releases typically sell the most in the first 3 weeks. Whether this was true at the time or applies today is not something I have the capacity to verify… but if there is anything to this claim, labels are losing out by failing to publish their releases online in a timely manner.

Search Analysis

I turned to Google to gather some additional information about the state of the digital download marketplace. I was mainly interested in contrasting the accessibility of illegal download links with legal shops and official sources of information. These results are by no means scientific–interpret them as you will.

The physical mail order shops that most consistently placed in the top ten search results were Saikosounds, Psyshop, and GoaStore. Other major shops such as Wirikuta and Beatspace were not evident, likely due to their design. These shops could improve their visibility by performing basic SEO improvements.

Legal download links almost never appear on the first page of Google search results. JunoDownload came up a few times but there was no sign of the others. Of course, Beatport, being a Flash-based site, is not indexed by Google. A few other shops made the cut, however: Play It Tonight, an MP3-only shop, came up a few times, as did the mainstream provider eMusic.

Illegal download links appeared on the first page of search results for almost every release. The few exceptions fall into two categories: releases with generic or ambiguous names (Pause, True Story, or Unlimited) and releases that were improperly titled by the rippers. Searches for 43 releases returned links to illegal downloads in the top five; 10 of these returned pirate links as the top result overall. In many cases the majority of search results returned were links to various MP3 blogs, forums, and other such sites.

Only in a few special cases did an official label or artist home page appear on the first page of the search results. Both festival compilations (Vuuv and Psycrowdelica) made it to the top thanks to the strong web presence of their parent organizations. Sentimony Records appeared in the top ten for several of their releases, possibly due to the newness or obscurity of the label. Aside from one or two other minor exceptions, no search returned official sites on the first page. This suggests that most psytrance label and artist home pages do not have a high page ranking.

Last note: PsyDB and Discogs both came up often while searching for releases on the list above. Labels would do well to ensure their catalogue remains up to date on both these sites–particularly PsyDB, as it provides direct links to mail order shops such as Saikosounds and Wirikuta.


Few psytrance labels seem to make a concerted effort to capture their share of digital media sales. Many continue to sell CDs without providing consumers with legal download options. Of those labels that have entered into the digital media marketplace, only a handful seem to be serious about it. Based on the findings of this informal survey, kudos can be awarded to Digital Psionics, Planet B.E.N. Records, Com.Pact Records, Blue Tunes Recordings, Interchill Records, and Utopia Records for their commitment to the emerging digital media marketplace.