John 00 Fleming (also known as J00F ) is a talented and respected Trance DJ and Producer. He has had commercial success but is still highly respected in the underground. He has been called a pioneer of the EDM scene by The Daily Telegraph and “A national treasure of trance music” by Pete Tong. We reached out to J00F to ask him to write an editorial for us and he kindly obliged. What he wrote is a fantastically written piece about social networking numbers and how they have come to define DJs and producers. I am very happy to present you with J00F‘s “Fascination With Numbers“:
Fascination With Numbers by John 00 Fleming
Not so long ago, aspiring DJs were fascinated with music, searching and hunting for those special weapons. We’d spend many an unhealthy hour locked in our rooms with fellow DJs, listening and talking music. We’d congregate at our local record stores and talk yet more music gibberish while flicking through covers. Producers would endlessly twiddle knobs on synthesisers exploring every possible angle to create noises and sounds. They’d be neck high in music magazines and books. These obsessed geeks hogged the counters in music stores as they chin stroked while swapping CPU stories. It was our fascination. Our hobby. Our passion that others admired and supported, this being the foundation to our careers.
To make it in this field of work today, you need to have a fascination with numbers. We get daily updates from DJs’ newsletters –a trophy proclaiming their latest numbers. We get forced down our throats that they have thousands of YouTube hits, played 500 gigs this year to a million people and covered more miles than a Boeing 747. It’s important for us to know they are followed by hundreds in the cloud resulting in a Beatport top 10 and that thousands like them on Facebook, re-tweeted # im-popular-see- my-poll-number…
Number crunching IT guys spotted a human weakness–that a fast track to success was possible by building virtual superstars using numbers. It’s easier for an agent to sell a number than explain their musical roots. ‘Heck, those are big numbers’ says the corporate sponsor, ‘let’s book them’. This weakness was spotted by others as an easy way to success and so the fascination with numbers begun. A macho dickwaving fest is here: ‘my numbers are bigger than yours’ and chests are puffed out as these numbers grew bigger and bigger. It’s all IT hands on deck/keyboards to beat the competition, the economies of the far East and Mexico flourished as this free for all got into full stride, a strategy that Lance Armstrong would be proud of.
We’ve all been infected and brainwashed by their marketing, we hear a new track and our eyes glide to the number of plays. We hear about a new producer, but our mind is made up by how few people like him on Facebook. We won’t bother going out due to the DJ not being popular in a poll.
But there’s a flaw in this plan. If you overcook something, it gets burned leaving a sour taste. Red flags are already flying, with some numbers being bigger than household celebrities. There’s only so much number calling you can do, at some point you have to come up with the goods to back up these numbers. When you don’t, there’s another number hauling guy ready to take your place. That’s the way of the commercial business plan they chose to take, so don’t throw your numbers out of your pram like you did when you didn’t get top billing.
It’s an expensive business maintaining all those numbers, both financially and mentally. So take a moment to think what path you’ll choose to take in your musical career. Look at the numbers, and then look at the numberless guys that have sustained a very long career. These are the only numbers that stack up. Start getting fascinated with music again and not numbers.