The Biggest Issue with this Year's DJ Mag Top 100

October 19, 2014 -

Will Cuccurullo

This weekend, the results of the DJ Mag Top 100 for 2014 were officially released, sparking all of the controversy the EDM community has come to expect this time of year. While the list is oft-disregarded for being more of a popularity contest than an actual ranking of DJ talent within the scene, it does lead to some hilarity around social media. For every "my top ten" tweet are hundreds of angry fan reactions claiming that  "Martin Garrix is literally the EDM antichrist." Even DJ's who frequent the top 20 have a laugh at it; reading tweets by EDM's resident troll Deadmau5 almost make the idea that DVBBS can be ranked over the likes of Infected Mushroom, Kaskade, and even Bassnectar (again a no show) tolerable.

If you are one of the many who wonder how DJ Mag assembles the EDM equivalent of high school yearbook awards,  it may come as a bit of a disappointment to learn that it is based on popular vote. The list is publicly voted upon by fans, with this year's results including a turnout of 750,000 ballots. While it is true that popular opinion in no way correlates to musical talent (take a look at the current Billboard Top 100), the list does reveal a sad truth about EDM in recent years. Exposure in the scene has become massively correlated to an artist's ability to self promote, instead of being based on production and mixing skills. The casual EDM listener is limited to the big names that frequent major festival mainstages and Pandora radio recommendations.

Unfortunately, this means success becomes based not only on solid production and mixing talent, but also heavily  relies on artist self-promotion. DJ's who get the most exposure (and subsequently make lists like the DJ Mag Top 100) are not  necessarily the ones with the best releases for the year, but have the most resources to get followers. Even prominent members of the EDM scene have aired their opinions publicly, as seen by Gareth Emery's post on the issue last year.

That is not to say that the artists who made DJ Mags' list (or any other popular ranking for that matter) are not deserving of their recognition. A number of the artists on it have earned their place in the EDM community through original releases and phenomenal live sets. The issue at hand is less of who made the list, and more of what they have to do in order to stay in the spotlight. We can argue for hours about who deserves the number one spot. You cannot discuss a more subjective topic than opinions on music, and obviously no one would be completely correct in such a debate. However, social media presence needs to be completely removed from the discussion. If that occurs, maybe next year Deadmau5 will have less to tweet about.


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