The news this week has been full of illegal ballots, voter fraud, recounts and rigged counts – yes that’s right, it’s the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ Poll.

The annual tradition of DJs complaining about the DJ Mag Top 100 stretches back thousands of years. Back then, of course, a more UK Garage influenced sound was popular rather than trance and EDM, that and the sound made when you hit a bone with a stick. Historians believe that the Poll’s original function was to be a source of conversation to tide DJs over between Ibiza and Christmas and every year we honour the tradition by engaging in the same ill-informed, specious and nonsensical arguments about the list. 

Generally, the criticisms of the DJ Mag Top 100 are: the list is too white, too male and full of commercial DJs who have nothing to do with the underground scene. All these observations are true. However, to then ‘blame’ DJ Mag for the content of the list is like blaming the ballot boxes for the result of an election. There’s a crucial factor that all the rage-faces and anger-merchants miss each year: DJ Mag don’t choose who gets in the list, it’s voted for by people. Not even readers of the mag particularly, it’s voted for by the kind of people who would vote for their favourite EDM star in an online poll. 

99.9% of the DJs and producers who moan about the list would bite DJ Mag’s hand off if offered a double-page feature

I’ve no proof here so this is a wild guess, but I’d bet the vast majority of the generation who vote for these performers have never bought a print magazine in their entire, young lives, certainly not a specialist DJ magazine. Because that’s the other major factor missing from our annual Poll-related temper-fest: the mag’s actually pretty cool for the rest of the year: pages of quality underground music reviews, lots of cool tech stuff, DJ politics, DJ history and features on decent artists from across the electronic music spectrum. But no one who complains about the Poll ever actually reads the magazine.

Vote for your favourite Electronic EDM Music star NOW!

The DJ Mag Top 100 DJs list is voted for by the kind of people who vote for their favourite EDM star. So that’s kids mostly, the type of fan who likes a handsome EDM pop star or a cool EDM DJ with sleeve tats, a couple of haircuts and plenty of glitter cannons. The voters are the kind of young people who are susceptible to online campaigns from highly organised PR companies. 

Wait, this is all getting a bit complicated, it was way easier when we could just call DJ Mag names. 

So if you want to get angry at someone, although God alone knows why you would, life is hard enough at the moment already, you could always attack the young voters for not having cool enough tastes. Although on reflection, perhaps it’s the PR agencies, hustling up online support for their latest awful artist that should be the target of our ire. But PRs are just trying to earn a living within the system – maybe the fault really lies with the major labels, bankrolling online campaigns to get people who never read DJ Mag and aren’t really involved in underground DJ culture to vote for a new potential label-cash-cow, they’re the problem. But then, they wouldn’t be able to do that without platforms like Facebook who have to take some of the blame too. They allow organisations to micro-target their campaigns at us based on the data they continually collect from us, thus manipulating any vote, poll or indeed election they want. Wait, this is all getting a bit complicated, it was way easier when we could just call DJ Mag names. 

I’ve always said that 99.9% of the DJs and producers who moan about the list would bite DJ Mag’s hand off if offered a double-page feature. As if to prove my theory, DJ Mag suddenly flip it and hit us with the DJ Mag Best of British awards –  the nominees for which generally seem pretty cool – and suddenly our timelines are full of hope, happiness even, as we all wish our favourite DJ the best of luck in THIS poll, because THIS poll, this one that a DJ I like is in, THIS poll is good. But that other poll, from like five minutes ago, with DJs I don’t like in, that poll is bad. And wait, they just awarded Kerri Chandler a lifetime achievement award? Well, that’s obviously well-deserved, THAT accolade I can get on board with. But not the Top 100 Poll winner, no, he’s a bad winner, I only like the good winner.

Hmm. It actually is all sounding rather like the recent US election isn’t it.

Main photo by Manny Becerra.

Harold Heath is on Twitter.

14th November, 2020

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