Commentary

Commentary – So the DJ Mag voting has begun….

Miss Ampz

July 25th, 2013

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Unless you’ve been living on a rock for the last week, or don’t ‘like’ or follow ANY DJs/producers on Facebook/Twitter/etc, you’ve seen many of these artist’s posts related to voting for them in DJ Mag’s annual Top 100 poll. I’ve spent the week observing their social media behaviour – since I follow quite a few myself – and have noticed a wide variety of approaches used by the artists to get your votes. Some I agree with and some I don’t. You probably feel the same way. There are many politics surrounding this poll and many conflicted opinions on the importance of ranking in it. While some artists have (and have definitely been proven to do this before) cheat by hiring agencies to send fake votes, and via other techniques, I am not here to talk about my thoughts on cheating.  I am also not here to give my personal opinion on the relevancy of this poll in general, since comparing DJs from across genres is like comparing apples and Paris Hilton. I am here to discuss their social media tactics and how effective they may be.

So lets discuss how the artists themselves go about vote campaigns, and how these artists see the importance of their ranking. If you compare and contrast various DJs, you cannot compare campaigning styles within genres – there is too much variance. Rather, I noticed how artists approach this by 1) their rankings last year, 2) how ‘cynical’ they are known about EDM culture the rest of the year, and 3) how ‘gimmicky’ they are in general. There are definite trends that range from some artists truly not caring about the list and votes to those who are quite desperate for the attention and the support – so far as making videos and promoting themselves on Facebook in sponsored messages. Obviously it is still very early to see how far artists will go, but here are some of the early trend’s I have noticed thus far.

How DJs were ranked last year:

The 2012 – and arguably the 2011 – rankings many times have a huge factor about how artists will approach their campaigns the following year. The majority of the artists in the 2012 top 10 have not directly asked for people’s votes (yet). Rather, in attempts to not appear greedy or tacky, many of the artists are grateful for their rankings last year, and want to share the glory with their fellow DJ talents, by helping to promote them (obviously, many times for those who are on their labels, collaboration buddies, etc). or have not said anything at all. I do believe this is one of the more classier and most tasteful responses – it allows for appreciation of your previous ranking and wanting others to experience the potential benefits of being ranked so high. Maybe this also has to do with the fact some of those in the 2012 Top Ten do not have to worry since they know they will be ranked high once again.

One of the best approaches I’ve seen comes from Afrojack. He’s usually more egotistical than others in his field, and I would have expected to see him promote himself to no end. However, he has been releasing who he is voting for with explanations as to why, showing appreciation for others in his scene.

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There is another reason why I only said the majority of those in the 2012 top 10 – Hardwell has taken a more gimmicky (as I also would have expected too) approach, releasing multiple posts on why people should vote for him. To the point, he is making them personalized to people in individual countries, including Canada. It is obvious that Hardwell really, really, wants to rank high again – a bit desperate if you ask me. He even has his own video to campaign for it (link right below); virtually every post on his Facebook currently is about voting for him. If he doesn’t rank as high though, he will still get gigs. He can calm down. The only other artist in last year’s top 10 who is campaigning as hard for themselves as Hardwell is number 7, Dash Berlin. The rest have been relatively relaxed, have helped their label buddies, or have taken a joking attitude like Markus Schulz.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq1a0Jsk6CU&feature=youtu.be

However, I highly doubt people like David Guetta would launch a vigorous campaign again- due to the fact when he did in 2011, and won the top spot, he got quite the hate from the EDM scene. He didn’t launch a campaign last year per say, but he has made a banner this year, minus the direct DJ Mag reference to it. Also, many artists who ranked last year, but lower than 50, have taken on stronger campaigns for themselves, in hopes to rank higher, but that is more justifiable.  So yes, previous rankings do matter a lot.

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The Cynicism of Artists

Many DJs are known for being more cynical and critical of EDM culture and of other artists (usually with good reason), so this cynicism of course does not end around DJ Mag voting time. Some of the more well known cynical artists include Arnej, Marcus Schossow, Maor Levi, A-Trak, amongst others. Sometimes this cynicism is obviously suppose to only be funny or satire, but sometimes it is also dead-on serious (and correct). So I found that a lot of the more cynical artists either did not say anything in relation (at least yet), specifically have said they won’t campaign and/or other thoughts on the matter. Here are a few examples:

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No word for Deadmau5 on Facebook at least about all of this, and he’s been in the top 10 for years and is known for his large cynicism and attacks. So obviously these are not perfect theories…

The Gimmick Factor

Some artists are just more gimmicky than others, its how any genre has and ever will be. I am sure if the rules on voting were more flexible, artists would be offering more to their fans as a means to garner votes; however, the rules state you cannot bribe voters to entice votes. Regardless however, this has not stopped artists from pulling out all the ‘legal’ stops they can. Probably the most prominent example of this beyond Hardwell is Project 46 – seems like they will not stop at anything to gain votes as well. They are also running a very hard campaign to boost their rankings… but what else would we expect, they give away free music (which occasionally gets them in trouble from other artists) every week in order to gain fans and/or whatever else they need (ex. for votes on the Hypem List). They even paid for sponsored messages and ads on Facebook. Not shocked though. Unlike Hardwell however, I can understand their desperation and worries about being in the Top 100 this year… they barely scraped by last year at the 100th place.

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Some artists have been tacky as mentioned, and that is probably so because they are always tacky. At least some artists have a good sense of humour about everything. Despite the fact they may be asking for votes, they at least they can do it in a way that can make you laugh and doesn’t seem pathetic. Markus Schulz, Umek and Tritonal have been the standouts so far from what I’ve seen, and at least they don’t appear so desperate.

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The Best, The Worst and the Rest

As mentioned before, Afrojack really shocked me in his approach, which despite my general disappointment in his music and persona, it redeemed a bit of credit in my books. I think other that that, one of the classiest approachs was Thomas Gold. While many artists create specific videos as to why they should vote for them, Thomas Gold went a different route -making a thank you video to his fans (a very creative and cute one) to show his last year touring around the world, and thanking them for making that happen; while releasing it around the DJ Mag voting started, without specifically mentioning it in the video. I suggest you watch the video below. I am a big fan of his, so I’m glad to have been a part of one of those shows last year. You can tell he does not take his fans or his fame for granted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_5wJe8BRQY

Maybe one of the worst approaches beyond Hardwell and Project 46 however, is Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike. They not only have their own tacky video to promote themselves, but they also have Tomorrowland promoting them and their video. I know they are the resident DJs of the festival, but considering there are over 200 DJs that play at that festival every year, personally I do not feel that is in the spirit of any EDM event to promote some DJs over others in this fashion.

For the rest, I am just going to leave you with a few links that other DJs have written about voting and their importance. They do offer unique perspectives on the issues and a bit surprising coming from Kaskade and Umek, but maybe that’s just me.

UMEK – http://www.umek.si/newsletter/40/index.html

Kaskade – http://thisisadynasty.tumblr.com/post/33901203810/is-a-dj-mag-poll-relevant

DJ Alternatives

One of the strongest responses to the DJ Mag has been Gareth Emery and his very outraged post he put on Facebook last weekend. He was quite angry about a phone call he received about pressuring him to spend thousands of dollars on a third-party social media campaign, like one of his (undisclosed) competitors, or else he wouldn’t rank high. Gareth took the high road, and asked people to NOT for him, and rather he spend that money on a charity in a poll of his own. It is nice to see a DJ use their position for good, rather for the good of themselves. Since this first poll, Gareth picked 5 charities for people to vote on, and even influenced Tydi to stop campaigning for himself and support the cause. Some people accused Gareth of still trying to gain votes by seeming like he didn’t care, but regardless, the money is going for a good cause, not to get ahead.

 

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As well, because of the extent some DJs will go to gain votes, it prompted a few DJs (And randomly, Alanis Morissette) to participate in a parody video on Funny or Die – mocking themselves, their fellow DJs and the scene as a whole. It is quite funny, and again, I give credit to Afrojack to being able to mock himself without directly promoting himself.

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/8664

Maybe however, despite some DJs saying they don’t care and don’t want votes, it is ultimately a ploy to get more votes – a reverse psychology if you will. Eric Prydz might be joking below, but there could be a general underlying truth for himself and of other DJs applicable.

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Miss Ampz Selections

I am going to leave you with my picks for the year, in the spirit of transparency. I decided my votes based on the productions these people have done in the last year – but also, I have seen all of the DJs mentioned below in the last year, so I am keeping true to the ‘DJ’ part of it. In my opinion, voting should be based off of both, and even if you haven’t seen an artist live, you should have at least listened to a couple of their sets from start-to-finish to see their actual DJ abilities. I think it is interesting that the voting now has a new question for the year… ‘who has been your favourite DJ in the last 20 years?’ I think its an important question, yet I fear someone will win that hasn’t even been known for 3 years. But such is a popularity contest…

1. Eric Prydz – saw him twice, including once at Sensation Toronto. He is absolutely stunning at mixing and is an incredible producer who has not felt the need to sell out like his counterparts.
2. Umek – saw him a couple of weeks ago, and he had the best set at Digital Dreams in my opinion. He also has amazing productions that are amazing to groove to, along with his label mates.
3. Mark Knight – he was incredible live when I saw him last November. He also has some of the biggest bangers of the year (like TEN and Your Love for example)
4. Fehrplay – He is an amazing up and comer with some of the most unique songs to have come out as of late. He also puts on a good show live. Very understandable why he is signed to Pryda Friends…
5. Armin van Buuren – The king has gotten my vote for a few years now, but I absolutely loved his songs with Ana Criado last year… quite sexy and surreal.  Also, always fun to see him live.

If I had more votes: Guy J, Thomas Gold, Arty, Markus Schulz, Jeremy Olander, Jerome Robins, and Above and Beyond. All had amazing productions in the last year in my opinion.

As for my top DJ of the last 20 years, I had to vote for Carl Cox. He’s one of the only DJs who is still touring that has actually been around for 20 years, and he was the first winner of this DJ Mag poll back in 1997. His influence is also unprecedented. His production and mixing abilities are second to none, and the fact that he is one of the only DJs to have a stage named after him at the main festivals, especially at Ultra, proves the widespread influence of himself and for his fellow techno producers. No, I have not seen him live yet like the others, but I have heard enough of his radio shows and set recordings, and seen enough of his Ultra Live feeds to know his skills are absolutely amazing. I might like other DJ Producers more – and even considered voting for them like Armin or Eric Prydz because of their massive influence and talent – but I feel for the groundbreaking work Carl has done (and still does) he deserves the top honours once again.

 

(If you still want to vote after all of this, follow this link: http://www.djmag.com/top100djs)

, missampz

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