Mike and David Laven
Over the past few years, BEATPORT, the Web site of choice for dance-music heads, has grown at such a rate, it’s practically the homepage for DJs worldwide. No one knows this better than MIKE LAVEN, co-owner of SLANTED HOUSE, Boston’s most prolific dance label. “We got our first record pressed up on vinyl, and it was fairly available on the East Coast in some record shops,” he says over the phone from his home in Worcester. “But that was right around the time a friend of mine told me to check out beatport.com.”
Beatport is the iTunes of dance music, with different bit rates available for download and even .wav files for the most technologically adept DJs. Lately, though, as Laven explains, it’s become even more popular with consumers. “When Beatport first started, it was 75 percent club DJs and 25 percent regular consumers. But right now, through all the branding they’ve done, it’s 50/50. Which is why the numbers have grown so much — it’s not just DJs. I’ve heard they’re selling close to a million tracks a month now.”
Slanted House got in early on the Beatport phenomenon, and that’s helped them stay in the mighty site’s favor. “Our second release went straight to digital, and we basically canned the vinyl thing. We are on their Top 50 tracks from 2004, but now you have to sell 10 times as much to get on that chart. Beatport is what really started to launch us.” Laven also acknowledges the downside of Beatport’s dominance: homogenization. “Before, even just five years ago, DJs used to shop locally. If you were in Cleveland or New York or Boston, you had different records. But now, everyone, worldwide, is shopping at the same shop.”
He goes on to recall a classic DJ story. “Danny Tenaglia, supposedly, when he was buying one of these hidden-gem, minimal tech-house records that he would love, he would buy every copy in the store, because he didn’t want anyone else to have that record. And people would come in the next night and say, ‘Do you have that record that Danny played?’ And they’d be like, ‘No, we don’t have it.’ ” Beatport, though, is never sold out.
Slanted House is currently on its 56th release, “Acidfukin,” a production from Laven and his brother David. As Shlavens & D-Lav, the pair play all around New England; they have a show this Friday night, July 20, at Rise in Boston. They come from a remarkable music background: both studied percussion, and Mike went on to get a master’s degree in classical percussion from Juilliard. “One of us DJs and the other plays some kind of live instrument for two tracks, and then we switch,” Mike says of their performances. “We’ve been on the same musical wavelength for a long time, and we don’t have the same feuds that other DJ duos have. We sort of have a way of working it out.”