So, the DJ Mag results are in… and in a less reported but in no way, shape, or form, less important bit of news – I had eggs for breakfast.
I might have actually been able to make it a full year without realizing that the Top 100 had occurred (or was even still a thing) if my Twitter hadn’t blown up in a firestorm of people either a.) caring about it b.) not caring about it or c.) pretending to either care or not care about it. But nope, this years DJ popularity contest has again accomplished its now singular purpose of trending on my feed. To be fully honest, I probably belong to the side that doesn’t quite understand the relevance of this whole contest. If anything it seems like EDM’s annual version of The Hunger Games, except where no one dies and nothing actually happens.
In all fairness, DJ Mag hasn’t been at the pinnacle of its relevance in quite some time. Print has been losing traction to digital format publications as internet speeds ramp, platforms increase utility, and media evolves higher resolutions and production value. Including a CD with your magazine is no longer a viable way to add value to a viewer’s experience.
The same publication that won IDMA’s “Best Music Publication” back to back between 2003-2012 is being strangled by this new medium.
As a side note, keep in mind that Virtual DJ can claim back to back IDMA wins for “best DJ software” for the years of 2013-2014 – so the laurel of “best music media resource” is a pretty questionable one. But, I digress.
Once upon a time, tiny hamsters danced freely across the interwebs. These days are no more. The internet as we all know now evolved into an intuitive and elegant way to share news, information, and content like never before. New business models and business tactics became possible that completely invalidated the “old way” of doing things. For the cost of a years subscription to DJ Mag, one could outreach to thousands upon thousands of people with whatever message they please. Since, you’re a pretty bright person I’m guessing you can see where I’m going with this. If you aren’t, let me help you understand with this handy dandy venn diagram
The problem with the DJ Mag Top 100 isn’t really DJ Mag. That’s not what I’m trying to say with this article. Anyone saying differently is probably better off going to the museum and talking sh*t to the Tyrannosaur fossils they have on display. Believe it or not, our industry (or what it has evolved into) is the real planet ending comet/asteroid in this case. Again not to point blame; the asteroid was going to smack the earth anyways, unfortunately the dinosaurs happened to be on the losing end of that game of rock, paper, extinction. Simply put, we can market so damn well that The Poll, which attracts 350,000 votes and 10,000,000 views means next to nothing in a true sense. While DJ Mag says that their contest “is now considered the benchmark for both DJs and clubs who book them.” I don’t imagine many people are buying that. To think that anyone with business acumen would choose to believe the results of something so heavily influenced by money is absurd. Speaking logically, a lot of money was (probably) spent to capture votes; any placement on the Top 100 list is better than no placement, right? Well, only insofar as the amount of money spent on marketing would still allow for the artist and team to make profit. Given that most of the artists on the top 100 are being booked fairly regularly, except maybe for Boy George? And given that there’s always tons of allegations of buying votes and placing huge emphasis it seems that the results have become much less credible. Where the top 100 may have held a sort of cultural importance to dance enthusiasts pre-EDM, it has all but become a once a year farce of marketing.
In all honesty it seems as though the yearly poll has become like an Opera fundraiser. Loads of elitists making a massive deal about wealth and status and yet hardly one of them cares about the Opera program. The Top 100 has become a way for DJs and their teams to create a sense of importance and prestige with a misguided sense of ‘tradition’. Even then, it’s hard for me to find fault with DJ Mag itself. Their brand pre-dates digital marketing and Facebook advertising. Unfortunately, it looks like they’ve had a bunch of rich, self-absorbed, wankers, crash their party. The poll now reflects the state of the industry. A more marketing focused result, rather than an organic reflection of taste in music. It’s no longer about the freshest music and the hottest talent, it’s about Facebook support from Bollywood actors, sponsored posts to boost outreach, and the tireless pursuit of the perceived value of a #1 spot in a genre which has rapidly exploded thanks to business and marketing acumen.