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Don't Pay For Terrible Art: Pre-Recorded Sets Are Unacceptable

You may have seen a recent post on EDM.com titled “Is Fatboy Slim’s Criticism of Dance Music On Television Hypocritical?” written by Mike Walkusky. In the piece, EDM.com’s senior editor highlights the recent statements by Slim regarding Simon Cowell’s forthcoming Ultimate DJ television show. I support Walkusky’s statements for a multitude of reasons, namely summating that Ultimate DJ will saturate a scene with commercialized, fast-food dance music. It happened to pop music with American Idol. It is currently happening with country, rock, and songwriting with shows like The Voice, The Nashville Star, and Rising Star.

Back to Fatboy Slim: His criticism is right, and Walkusky’s acknowledgement of Slim miming during the London Olympics ceremony shows a willingness to accept that even the forefathers of dance music have to make sacrifices for paychecks and recognition.

Mainstream commercial acts have been miming and lip-synching since it was made possible with backing tracks. That’s a fact. Whether or not we like it, they will continue to do it. The difference is the backlash that occurs following the mimed event in question. For Fatboy Slim, it wasn’t that harsh, but was more expected given the grandeur of the event he was playing. Sure, us real fans get a little disappointed, but we also know that a closing ceremony paycheck has a couple more zeroes than a club night in London, so we can write that off just a little bit. But what happens when this occurs in night clubs, venues, and at festivals?

I hate to say it, but it happens all the time. As much as I’d like to wish that producers and DJs are mixing live every single time they play, that simply is not the case. Steve Aoki has made an entire career of creating a 2-hour iPod playlist so that he can throw cake in the faces of people in the first ten rows. Steve Aoki tickets are typically at least $20 per show, which means you are paying $20 to either get cake thrown in your face, or attend a listening party with Aoki. That’s cool if you are into that; I’m just not.

That’s actually pathetic. You could pay $8 at any state fair around the country and have a clown throw a pie in your face, and you’d probably receive a free t-shirt, to boot. So why do we pay so much for DJs to do this?

When the Red Hot Chili Peppers were accused of miming during the Super Bowl in 2014, they immediately came out and admitted it. And they weren’t scared of it. They acknowledged the situation, admitted it and moved on. There wasn’t much flack. Remember when Ashley Simpson lip-synched on Saturday Night Live and totally got busted? I’m not going to say it ruined her career, but have you heard an Ashley Simpson song lately? (I hope you weren’t listening to her when she was in her prime, but if so, that’s a personal problem.) I haven’t.

DJs and producers create anthems that resonate in our modern culture. That’s a fact. If that was  not true, festivals wouldn’t sell hundreds of thousands of tickets annually. These artists play the songs we listen to on the way to the festival, during the festival, and after the festival. Why should we be subjected to a pre-recorded set that isn’t pure? We shouldn’t. Plain and simple.

When singers perform the national anthem at sporting events, they sometimes flub the vocals. Search that on YouTube and you can easily find hundreds of videos of people screwing the pooch on that one. That’s the NATIONAL ANTHEM  OF OUR COUNTRY. Five-year olds can sing that song forward and backwards. But do you know what happens when they mess up the lyrics? The crowd helps them out. Not every time, but when the stadium recognizes the courage it takes to perform, they provide support when necessary. Those are true fans. They are not subjected to a pre-recorded National Anthem even though they know the lyrics to it. They, the fans that paid money to attend an event, are given a live performance.

We as dance music fans should not stand for this monstrosity. Instead, we need to hold artists accountable for their actions. If we are getting a pre-recorded set, boo that lazy artist. Dance music will hit a stand-still and die if we continue to allow these fallacies in the scene. How do we hold them accountable? Social media is a wonderful platform that allows for direct artist-to-fan interaction. Regardless of conversational reciprocity, they will see the comments. The trending topics will show up, and I believe that we can help alter the course of dance music. We, the fans, are the important ones. We pay for art, and if we are paying for shitty art, what does that say about us?

Written by Clark Parker

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of EDM.com.

Cover photo credit: SLE Music
Article photo credit: Steve Aoki's Facebook & CBS New York

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