There is a new DJ poll on the block. Billboard Dance has released the results for their new top 100 DJs in the world. It is a more analytical view on the profession, taking into account things like “domestic and global charts statistics (streaming, track sales, album sales, and radio airplay) and touring data (show capacities, festival bookings, and residencies).” There were also 180,000 votes from 174 countries, which factor into this. The poll looks at artist’s achievements in the past year, taking into account past performance. With all of this data, is it better than the ones we have had?
Consider this a popularity and “achievement” poll. It rewards those who have hit records that can crossover from dance music to pop radio, actually sell music and play big venues and festivals around the globe. The busier and more successful you are, the higher you will be up in this ranking. There is also the voting component, which makes it easier for big, popular DJs to boost their position. However with the smaller time frame given to this and being in its first year, there was less lobbying from acts to get votes.
But does this really give a better look at the dance music world? There are only 11 women on the list where three of them are in groups as the only woman. In a time when women are really breaking through, that is a bit discouraging and shows there is still a lot of work to be done to get bigger gigs and air-time for female Djs. This poll is helping to show the problem.
If you understand this for what it is, it is better than the DJ Mag poll. The DJ Mag poll being just the fan vote allows for some completely random names to appear each year on the back of heavy advertising and some alleged sketchy pay-to-play trades.
Is it a poll that represents the most talented DJs or producers in electronic music? No. You will be hard-pressed to find people who say The Chainsmokers are the best act in electronic music, but they are at the top, 31 spots ahead of Carl Cox, 25 spots ahead of Eric Prydz, 45 ahead of Solomun and 59 ahead of Nicolas Jaar (you get the point).
However are The Chainsmokers, Kygo, Marshmello, Major Lazer or Calvin Harris some of the biggest? With the moves they have made outside of strictly dance music and into pop, R&B and hip-hop, they have elevated to the pop stars. So yes it isn’t wrong to put them as the some of the biggest in dance music.
So is this a better poll? Yes. Resident Advisor is done doing their polls, but that only looked at the underground and not every stage at a dance music festival and barely moved from year to year. DJ Mag is an unabashed popularity contest. This shows popularity and then backs it up with data. Even if you think the list is filled with overpaid divas, there is a method to the madness here.