From the relatively early days of social media, it’s been possible to buy followers. Although the technology existed in Facebook’s infancy, it was when Twitter came along in 2006 that it started to really take off. And despite the platforms allegedly getting better at detecting the practice, it remains a notable problem.
Anyone wanting to make it as a DJ in the 1990s had two options. Either you practised for hours and hours on end to perfect your vinyl skills or you excelled in the production world. Nowadays, you can quite literally buy your way to the top if you’re clever enough – websites allow you to buy thousands of followers for just a few dollars.
And in this day and age, following equals clout. The big festivals make little secret of the fact they mostly book DJs with huge followings on social media – not least because it makes the job of promoting the event much easier. It also, ironically enough, makes it easier to obtain a verified profile – if some staffer at Instagram or Spotify who knows nothing about you sees a six-figure following, they’re far more likely to approve your request.
A brilliant investigation by Propublica has confirmed the extent of the practice – it’s absolutely rife. Apparently, one of the strategies used is to upload loops of generic, repetitive house music onto profiles to try and make them look more convincing. Which got us at Ears To The House seriously suspicious.
Which upcoming DJs are doing the same thing to get noticed? It’s more than plausible that many of them are. We get sent links to videos every week of DJs playing these utterly terrible tech-house tracks with no atmosphere and no groove – and many of those are coming from verified Instagram accounts. This leads us to strongly suspect at least some of these clips are coming from these fake profiles.
They seem to be taking the mantra “fake it until you make it” to new heights. It’s allowing people with little talent to get to the top whilst reducing the odds for those who do have it. And it’s ultimately one of the things which is leading this scene into dangerous territory – because what’s to stop a robot from coming along and doing the same thing?
Before you know it, the same “DJs” who were trying to play the system will be getting played themselves. This won’t end well…