DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ poll is a long debated competition, the value of which is rather … nebulous. Although winners and top contenders proudly champion their ranking, the actual voting that goes into these placements is oft claimed to be fraudulent. Following a miraculous back to back win from Dutch big room king, Hardwell, one might wonder how DJs go about acquiring these massive amounts of votes that it reportedly takes to win. Well, from my experience in Belgium at Tomorrowland of last year, and a similarly reported experience from one of our avid readers this year, a key strategy appears to involve high pressure, guerrilla marketing.

When walking around Belgium with my fiancé in 2014, we were approached by several groups of scantily clad, tan and model-esque iPad-wielding females who were insistent upon getting us to vote for DJ Mag. However, these weren’t employees of the competition, but rather predominantly employees of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, or perhaps their team, some folks from Tomorrowland (booking agent, press contact, and general manager), and maybe even ID&T. The women confronted us in the street as we walked past, shoving pre-filled out touchscreens in front of us asking us to fill out our names and hit submit – which we promptly denied. But they weren’t the only ones. Multiple DJs had such strategies in their employ, utilizing attractive females to ambush tourists and revelers who were more likely to say yes than we were.

One of our devoted readers, Dustin, chronicled similar circumstances surrounding this year’s event in an email to us.

On Saturday afternoon, my friends and I were sitting in the food tables when we were approached by a woman who said she works for Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. She was carrying multiple iPads with her and asked us to vote for them for the DJ Mag 100 list. When I politely told her that I purposely planned on voting once I returned home (I know I’m actually voting), she seemed agitated and began to lecture me on how the Belgian group need to be ranked number 1. I replied by saying that although I am very familiar with the duo, I do not want to vote for an artist that I personally have never seen perform live before. She began to understand where I was coming from now and moved on to pester the next group.

Although Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike proceeded to deliver an impressive party that evening, my regard for them has sharply decreased since my encounter with their employee. Of all the DJs we saw, no other act spoke during their set to promote voting, let alone employee physical workers into the festival. Your article quoting Gareth Emery regarding artist campaign spending resonated with me and I felt it is fitting to share this story with you.

It can be observed that from these two individual circumstances, not only are DJs still actively pursuing the #1 spot, but they’re doing so in a detestably immoral fashion; garnering votes from any random passerby who probably hasn’t heard of DV&LM, nor cares about their success in the DJ Mag competition. While this may not be considered as directly buying votes, the duo and their team are paying to put feet on the ground and pull votes from non-fans – a very fine line if you ask me.

While we wait for the results of this year’s DJ Mag Top 100 poll, keep in mind one thing: whoever wins, and even whoever places highly, is likely paying their way to that position, in some manner of the term.