In a previous life, I was working as a photographer at Toronto’s Guvernment Nightclub. At the time, a then white Ferrari, was parked outside the front doors nearly every weekend. Shooting from the stage I remember having a conversation with another photographer. I pointed out a person slumped behind the DJ booth, the glow of a cell phone lit up his face as his eyes scrolled back and forth. He was slender, wearing a Puma baseball cap.
Yeah, I would be sitting alone in a really nice nightclub by myself in a corner on my phone trying to come up with animal puns. Heh
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) July 28, 2013
I don't really see what's wrong with just chillin quietly by yourself at a club... I'm not miserable. I just like keeping to myself.
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) August 18, 2013
It’s plain and simply known that social media is one of THE most crucial elements for any budding DJ to survive in today’s competitive climate. Unlike other heavy hitters in the electronic music world, fans attain an ability to look introspectively into his daily regiment. It’s almost seemingly that the deadamu5 persona and the music released is an after thought to the lifestyle of Joel Zimmerman being profiled throughout the world-wide web.
Zimmerman not only has slowly turned away from the imagery of his mau5 logo, but has been selectively promoting his own music releases and album teases. Be it a less than bolstered track on Richie Hawtin's label, or a mystery game as to when his next album droped; It’s almost as if music itself isn’t the focal point of the deadmau5 brand, it’s the growing focus on his humanity.
A recent example of this humanizing strategy would be Zimmerman's outing on the Gumball 3000 rally. For the most part, the private happenings of a touring musician are hidden from their social media, but in this case his twitter feed is nearly taken over by messages regarding the multinational trek across the world. Throwing tour notifications, music sharing, and label duties to the dust, the mouse themed producer dozens of posts a day showcasing the the aptly named “purrari”.
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) June 4, 2014
Let’s compare deadmau5’ social feed to that of another top charting electronic musician. Much like Zimmerman, Dutchman Armin Van Buuren has a label to run, an immense tour schedule, and a radio show to boot. Nearly 100% of the trance legends twitter posts are in regards to his tour, or ‘A State of Trance’ radio broadcast. Clearly his management team is well on top of these postings, but it’s hard not to compare this streamline approach to the cornucopia of multimedia shared on Zimmerman's social feeds.
Whilst comparing Zimmerman to the likes of Armin Van Buuren might seem pretty routine, it seems he’s attempting to rub shoulders with the marketing strategy of a bigger picture. Unlike the safe and cozy niche of ‘EDM’, deadmau5 is ostensibly attempting to appeal to the masses. This isn’t a case of an artist vying for a position between pop, and consumer directed house music, but it’s a drive to associate one’s likelihood with with world renown musicians who aren’t regarded within the confines of electronic music.
Recently I had the opportunity to hear Joel Zimmerman speak during a live interview in association with Canadian Music Week. Amidst the topics of frequent trolling and the yet to be released album, his comments spiraled into a hint that maybe he really isn’t all so happy being lumped in with the rest of the electronic music community.
Moderator Jian Ghomeshi suggested that Zimmerman’s ventures elsewhere, such as social media, might cloud his attention to producing; “I wonder how much time it takes away from being the creative guy.”
“Well, not much if it’s EDM we are talking about. Right now it’s so easy to produce and create. It’s such an easy thing to do technically.”
Curious enough, deadmau5’ retort to the claim didn’t necessarily defend the craft, but insinuates that the music genre he engages with doesn’t require the attention that the touring musicians of the world put towards their own material. Additionally, he defended his own craft on the basis that he’s been lumped into a niche that is plagued with simplicity and lack of creativity.
“Thanks EDM. That’s what I look like.”
Zimmerman suggested that due to this stigma, investors in the greater music world “won’t touch that shit with a ten foot pole, because it’s DJ stuff.” Clearly the later comment is of concern to him based on his ever-growing attention to product endorsement.
When I think of promotional tie-ins regarding electronic dance music artists, my mind wanders straight to the likes of Paul Van Dyk holding Q&A's on Twitter, and former race-car driver MAKJ doing meet and greets with fans. These, albeit fantastic, promotional tactics pale in comparison to a YouTube ad featuring a lanky Canadian doing donuts on a jet ski in Miami Beach, a character in the DJ Hero video game, and a match made in heaven with the creators of space invaders.
What’s next for the Canadian promotional entrepreneur? Perhaps “deadmau5-pads”, “deadmau5 the roller coaster” or a wall mounted bass that sings ‘Ghosts n Stuff’?
Seemingly Joel Zimmerman not only endorses the products, but displays his use with some casual aptitude. Check out the following commercial for an example of how he blends the use of the Sea-Doo Spark with a private performance during Miami’s ‘Winter Music Conference’.
Ultimately it’s not all home runs in regards to the deadmau5 product placement. His work with the Sony Move joystick is nothing far from being a strictly awkward affair.
Zimmerman’s comments, social feed, and strive to associate his brand with investors clearly defines his journey beyond the ‘EDM’ world. Creating an online persona that engages with fans, all whilst elevating business strategies outside of music, is a testament to the fact that he’s done with tampering with “DJ stuff” motive to remove himself from an albeit hindering niche.
Or maybe I’m wrong, and his trick worked on me and I’m just caught up in the fandom of a wacky, coffee drinking, Micky Mouse lookalike.