Winning souls for the DJ Mag Top 100

Nederlandse versie hier

My first contribution as a guest blogger for This Is Our House focuses on the workings and impact of the DJ Mag Top 100, which has just started its voting sessions. My advice: ‘See to a better and sound mix of digital supporting evidence’.

Once again, the most discussed ranking list of the music business is open for voting. And the debate in the music industry is in full swing. Many deejay—already known to lose their position, in view of their social media achievements — is worried about his or her ranking. The game of winning souls is on.

Hit parades have been prominent in the music business for decades. To some, the represent the backbone of the industry, for charts determine the popularity of a tune or a track. It is a matter of some importance, after all.

Buying hits?

Not too long ago, the Dutch tv program Rambam showed how to buy a song into the charts. Buy? Indeed, buy. Jan Dirk Vis, who owns an established entertainment company, was approached by Harry Slinger, front man of Drukwerk, who asked him if he could help out to turn the re-release of an older Drukwerk song into a hit record. He could and he did, at an investment of 1.500 to 3.000 euros.

Last year I wondered if the tally of votes shrinks to insignificant in relation to the way fans interact with deejays in the digital world, and social media in particular. Moreover, I wondered if the results of the voting could be skewed when the pool of voters is so small that effective campaigning could make the difference.

Promo girls with iPads

Visitors of Tomorrowland, the home base of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, must have raised an eyebrow when they saw a flock of beauties equipped with Ipads working the crowd. It was a promo team winning votes for the duo.

It is not the standard tactic to win over souls. Daily paper AD interviewed ‘promo girl’ Elizabeth about her work. It turned out that Tomorrowland was not the only festival visited by the promo team.

When I check other statistics, like the achievements on various digital channels, it is hard not to conclude that their top ranking is a somewhat inflated reward for the hardworking duo from Belgium.

“At times, some sixty girls were driven all over the country to collect votes. Visiting schools turned out to be most effective line of action. During breaks we asked pupils to vote,” she tells about her job on the side. Salient detail: Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike were pre-slotted at number 1.

Two weeks ago, the promo girls and their iPads were noticed again in Antwerp.

“People could vote on a number of deejays, not just Dimitri & Mike,” Tomorrowland’s Debby Wilmsen said to AD last year. According to her, the iPad campaign did not bring about the duo’s victory in the DJ poll. “They have been traveling all over the world. They sell out shows in no time flat. That’s why they have won, not because if the iPad campaign.”

This is interesting. When I check other statistics, like the achievements on various digital channels, it is hard not to conclude that their top ranking is a somewhat inflated reward for the hardworking duo from Belgium.

Correcting the measure

Over the last decades, the music industry has frequently revised the parameters that make up charts like the Top 100. Cd-sales were added to vinyl-sales; their aggregate represented physical sales. Since three years, downloads and audio-streams are included. So will You Tube-streams, as was recently announced.

It constitutes a mix of parameters that offers a clearer picture of what goes on the music business. This new mix has contributed to a radical change at the Popprijs, the most prominent award of the Dutch music industry. Its recent recipient, New Wave, came like a bolt out of the blue. They earned the award, in my opinion.

The voting system for this year’s DJ Mag Top 100 has, yet again, not adapted to the changing media environment. Inclusion of statistics for the various digital platforms and channels will result in a different ranking, a ranking that — if I were a deejay — would concern me much more than enlisting votes via iPad promo campaigns.

The deejay and his position in the digital world

The deejay’s position in the digital world is established by the statistics of his website, Google queries and interaction with fans on social media-channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Shazam, Snapchat, Soundcloud and Spotify could be included as well. These statistics are available at every time. There is no need for iPad campaigns, since the fans have already put in their votes. Each and every day, they choose who they like or not. And show their support.

Inclusion of statistics for the various digital platforms and channels will result in a different ranking, a ranking that — if I were a deejay — would concern me much more than enlisting votes via iPad promo campaigns.

When DJ Mag Top 100 does not adapt to a new way of measuring popularity, its relevance will be increasingly contested, which in the long run may result in its demise. That would be a hard fate for an institution that for many years has contributed handsomely to the global dance industry and its success.

For the time being, I take notice of different numbers and different statistics regarding deejays and the digital realm. These numbers are much more fascinating. Here is a sample. Slowly but surely we are approaching the stage of ‘predictive analytics’. One day — not too far into the future — is will be possible to predict the number 1 deejay of tomorrow, next week or next month on the basis of fan behavior on social media.

You don’t have to wait till October to count the votes.


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EDM and the digital domain

2 Comments

  1. Beste Denis,
    je artikel doet mij, ook al kan het inhoudelijk no way beoordelen wegens gebrek aan kennis, zeer solide en bovendien zorgvuldig aan.
    Én nog goed leesbaar geschreven ook, in beide talen nog wel, en dat is these days op zich al meegenomen.

    De energie om me voor de zaak die je bepleit in te zetten heb ik wel, en je lijkt me ook best een sympathieke gozer trouwens, maar, hoe hard ik mn best ook doe, heb ik geen flauw fucking idee wat, laat staan wie ik hoe zou kunnen helpen…
    Ik vind DJs en shit mad tof, zolang ik er maar niet aan blootgesteld hoef te worden en dat resulteerd dan weer in het simpele feit dat ik, bij mijn weten althans, niet één DJ ken, laat staan hetgeen ze over ons uitstorten.

    Hoe het ook zij, ik deel je mening dat het te betreuren valt dat niet de persoonlijk opgebouwde kwaliteit een DJ in de single digits van een top 100 doen belanden, maar de inzet van geile wijven met iPads wél.

    Aan de andere kant, een DJ top 100… Tjeempie, is dat nou belangrijk of niet?

    Ik zou het eerlijk gezegd niet weten. I can’t lie about what I think your chances are, but you have my sympathy.

    Mark Schäperkötter

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