By Dan Bolboceanu
Summer’s long gone and the countdown to the next summer festivals has started, and the cold winds and rains are upon us, with it the results of the DJ Mag: Top 100 DJs have arrived. After hours spent in studios, months touring from one festival to the other, the fans were dying to hear who would make the list, and in which position. However, this poll is surrounded by numerous controversies due to how important it has seemingly become. It can essentially dictate whether a DJ gets a gig or not, and a lot of money is involved in campaigning. That is the dirty nature of this poll that needs to be exposed. A poll originally designed to rank DJs based on skill has turned into a popularity contest with cheap ploys to change the rankings on the list increasingly used.
Big name DJs and music producers have spoken out on this issue. The most notorious ones are Dillon Francis (ranked 86th this year, down 22 from last year’s poll), and Hardwell (ranked 4th this year, down 1 position). In a video posted on Twitter following the results of the polls from 2016, Dillon Francis revealed his quarrels with this poll as he finds it hard to comprehend what the poll is actually for. You see producers such as Daft Punk or Major Lazer at the bottom of the polls even though they made hit tracks that you hear on the radio all the time. If it was truly about the best DJs in terms of skills, names such as A-Trak and Carl Cox would have been up there. Instead, what we see in the lists are names of unknown DJs or those who simply pay to win. A video made by a fan during one of Hardwell’s sets in the same year shows how he stops at the middle of his show to talk about his issues with DJ Mag, and how that list should not matter, for the same reasons Dillon Francis pointed out.
Yet the biggest scandal to prove their points, happened during the voting process in 2015. At Tomorrowland (a big music festival in Boom, Belgium), there were reports of girls walking around the premises with iPads asking people to vote for Belgian DJ duo, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. This incident was reported multiple times in different locations but with the same outcome. This was an action of manipulating the voting process directly, something that goes against the rules of the competition stated on the website. This duo went on to win the DJ Mag poll that year, adding to the frustration of many fans, as well as many DJs. A video made by satirical group “CVNT5” showcases how corrupt the DJ Mag: Top 100 voting is with DJs and music producers essentially funding their campaigns and paying black markets to get votes.
Although the DJ Mag does make some efforts to keep voting integrity, there are so many loopholes around it, especially since it is an internet-based voting system. IP addresses can easily be changed via VPNs or by temporarily disguising yourself with another IP. Multiple voting can happen by simply using another device that hasn’t been used to vote, and the so-called black markets of vote generators can produce thousands of votes in a seemingly short time. Unless the voting rules and safeguards are to be changed, the polls cannot be taken seriously anymore as rigging it has never been easier.