DJ Mag released its annual top 100 DJs poll results over the weekend at its grand event in Amsterdam as part of Amsterdam Dance Event with some of the biggest names in mainstream dance music in attendance. The top 10 had the usual suspects with Martin Garrix topping the poll over Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Armin van Buuren, Hardwell, Tiesto, The Chainsmokers, David Guetta, Afrojack and Marshmello in the top 10. There will be the typical gnashing of teeth from those who say they are fine not in it, but secretly wish they could benefit form the poll and then those who thank their fans for the support. However, this year it seems like the results were released with very little fanfare. Unless you were in it and paid attention, your Saturday plans were probably more important and that is a good sign.
The poll used to be a measuring stick for who were the biggest and best DJs in the world. The ranking was splashed on event fliers all over the place and it introduced a lot of fans to artists they didn’t know. Then people started to become more educated and realized that random DJ 4059328472347 probably isn’t better than Richie Hawtin or Carl Cox or Laidback Luke or A-Trak. Something else was at work and it was all a popularity contest with a side of big budgets.
In response, fans and DJs have lamented positioning in the poll over the past few years, but the reaction this year has been relatively muted. That is fine as the industry finds other measuring sticks for what makes an artist good or at least popular. Obviously there are still the issues that marketing and branding seem to matter more than quality music, but that is a problem as old as the business itself. With better understanding and access to various data points, fans and people in the industry can see who is popular without looking at a poll done by some fans.
Of course there were a few who lashed out at the poll because why not. It plays well with the peanut gallery. Diplo was one because he doesn’t need the thing. He can play a gig anywhere in the world at anytime without people voting for him in a poll. His numbers and reputation do the taking.
One good thing that came from this is that DJ Mag partnered with UNICEF to raise money for the organization. According to DJ Mag, as of yesterday, they raised $30,000 for charity. Now if only Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike would give the money they spent on iPad girls or everyone who made videos to spent on Facebook ad campaigns would just give that to charity, then there would be even more progress. Until then, we can only hope the ad campaigns slow each year, markets like Brazil and Asia rely less on the poll and everyone stop being so salty about the whole thing.