Many parts of the dance music world are now so deeply embedded up their own backsides that they cannot see the wood for the trees. Indeed, the indefatigable force of nature that is Agostinho Zinga covered this recently on his podcast, referencing an article from Resident Advisor asking whether electronic music was “becoming inaccessible to the working classes”.
And whilst Resident Advisor’s article on dance music increasingly becoming a plaything of the rich has more than a scintilla of truth to it, the publication displays a remarkable lack of self-awareness within it. For example, they quote Bristolian DJ Kristian Jabs says “There’s a lot of mediocre talent about at the moment that has been propped up by financial backing.”.
Isn’t the same thing true of Resident Advisor themselves? In October 2020, they received a £750,000 bailout from a British quango. They also – as Ears To The House exclusively revealed just days ago – received £10,000 from Hackney Council and a £41,000 from German taxpayers, no less. And even they admit they’re not as good as they used to be either.
A dance music press worth its salt would be calling out those mediocre names who have only risen to the top due to the money they’ve pumped into their careers. It would refuse to work with these opportunists, charlatans and shysters – yet they happily publish monochrome interviews where a PR firm behind the scenes has made sure the journalist only asks the “right” kind of questions.
Now, Ears To The House isn’t blind to the truth on this – the music industry has always been more dominated by the upper classes and those with money to cushion them. This isn’t exactly surprising in an industry where it can be a while before you get paid, if ever you do. But there’s little denying things have got worse over the past two decades.
These days, the only way to make money out of music for the majority of bands, DJs and the rest is to tour. Lots and lots of touring – lots of travelling through airports, lots of passport stamping, lots of paperwork and to hell with their physical and mental health in the process. In few other industries is burning yourself out seen as a badge of honour – yet dance music takes this to its extremes.
A diverse press would be able to see things from more perspectives and provide scrutiny – it’s what they do in many other areas. Yet the dance music press is filled with two types of people – apprentices and juniors who are paid an insultingly low salary to churn out content for websites, or a small number of very rich types earning a lot for doing not very much work.
The result? Very little real scrutiny going on, whilst an increasingly smaller circle at the top dictate the agenda – which, more and more, simply suits their own self-interest. It’s no wonder Ears To The House exists…