MDL Beast: What price to turn a blind eye to human rights?

Last year, Ears To The House was one of very few outlets to pay any real attention to the goings-on at MDL Beast. The festival in Dubai is paid for by the government of Saudi Arabia, keen to attract young tourists into the country – but the Middle Eastern nation’s human rights record is controversial, to put it mildly.

As ever, the dance music press decided to just ignore the story. It was left to sports journalists to show how things should be done earlier this year when grilling Phil Mickelson over the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series. This kind of intensive questioning is not something you’d ever find in the likes of the cowardly Resident Advisor.

And those DJs who were being scrutinised online over their decision to play at MDL Beast remained silent, with the exception of one – Jeff Mills. He defended his involvement, making the ridiculous claim that young people listening to his set might then feel inspired to bring change to the country. But why did Mills defend himself twice?

Perhaps the explanation is the money he was getting from MDL Beast. Ears To The House has been contacted by a source who has given us some of the figures that DJs playing at the festival earned – and confirmed Jeff Mills was paid $100,000 for his appearance, and this figure excludes the cost of accommodation, travel and so forth.

Elsewhere, Carl Cox was reportedly paid $175,000 for his work and at least one high-profile techno DJ was paid $250,000 for a two-hour set. Which may well explain the mystery of why so many of these DJs quite simply refused to discuss the matter.

Where else could you get paid a six-figure sum for a few hours work whilst getting put up in the most luxurious 5-star hotels in Dubai, all at someone else’s expense? Not many…

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