*This is the third piece in a series of editorials regarding the media's role in EDM.
Read Part One: EDM Media Has Been Failing You And Here's Why
Read Part Two: Don't Read Another Song Review Without Considering This
We’ve all seen it lurking around the dark depths of the internet like an anglerfish coaxing you in with its bright catchy headline, but before it’s too late, you’re deep in the belly of a contentless article wondering, “how did I get here?” In this moment, you’ve become a statistic; one of the millions of internet users that fall victim to clickbaiting. It’s like finding a turd in the punch bowl, and your trust in the internet dissipates. Frustration consumes you and your anger boils over into the comments section in the hope to alleviate the next poor sap from the anguish.
I feel you. We’ve all been there, but the issues surrounding clickbait run deeper than a deceitful social media manager. Granted, EDM.com is not innocent in implementing this tactic, although there are several types of clickbait, and I find no harm in 'the cliffhanger':
The above Facebook post is purposely vague so that fans of Skrillex and Kendrick Lamar are baited to find out the name of the festival. It gives the audience enough information to arouse curiosity, however, it holds back the relevant subject matter for readers to identify the festival. The post is not misleading or ethically compromising, but takes a lesson from my mother: "Patrick, don't ask me what the book is about. If you want to know, just read it."
Had we just named the festival in the headline, readers are more likely to pass by it considering it's a new event and doesn't have the same brand awareness as established festivals. Without that click, we'd be unable to inform on the culturally progressive nature of the event or expand on the lineup's diversity. Without the click, the audience isn't informed, the festival misses an opportunity to gain new fans, and the media fails at it's intended purpose. We all lose.
Although clickbaiting runs the spectrum of the cliffhanger to the slimy and sensational, there are larger issues perpetuating the use of clickbaiting that aren't widely acknowledged. Did I successfully bait you to keep reading?
The pertinent issue is why media publications use clickbait as a promotional tool for their content. The simple answer could be they are money-grubbing whores that give no attention to their content but only their ad impressions. Sure, there are those websites out there, but this type of capitalist savagery is not widely spread in the dance community. The real answer is simple: The millennial generation has trained publications to bait them.
In the negative space of legitimate topics and up-and-coming artists, the audience is mostly apathetic. I understand the argument that "we don’t care because you don’t give us anything to care about," but let’s be realistic: we’re talking about DJs, and they’re not rescuing babies from burning buildings on the daily.
There are issues out there that are worth discussing, and traditionally, DJs and industry professionals served as primary sources for those discussions through interviews, however, in the digital age, the discussions occur in real-time on social media and circumvent traditional news outlets. It's great because fans feel a personal connection to their favorite artists, but it also inhibits a journalists ability to cross-examine and investigate.
In the good-ole-days of print media, if an artist had something to discuss, they would utilize media to get the word out and this was the formula that created interesting content. Now that this process is largely extinct, publications are forced to get creative with how they present the information they have in order to incite curiosity i.e. clickbait.
In my experience, the millennial demographic tends to be a fairly complacent bunch. According to the International Business Times, only 21.3% of 18-to-29-year-olds voted in the 2012 midterms. This statistic more than doubles when you put the sexiness of a presidential election on the ticket, and elections affect the rest of your life, unlike entertainment.
From this statistic, we can derive two things: millennials particularly respond to big names and events, and when they do care, they make it known. But why isn’t there a similar interest in the seemingly leaden material that still has a great impact?
It is the belief of this writer that apathy is culturally embedded in how we receive information due to the stagnant nature of the education system. For decades, educators have attempted to transfer knowledge by relaying information, instead of training youth to seek information. Scientist and author Edwin Slossan brought this home when he said, “Lecturing is that mysterious process by means of which the contents of the note-book of the professor are transferred through the instrument of the fountain pen to the note-book of the student without passing through the mind of either.”
An audience’s natural curiosity is the salutary enzyme that can break down a publication’s need for clickbait. It’s not the media’s job to influence or train, but to present information so an informed public can make a decision on how to interact with their environment. It is in everybody’s best interest to understand the Socratic method and why asking questions is more valuable than providing answers.
If you are an inquisitive commando, enjoy writing, and want to come further down the rabbit hole, please reach out to EDM.com and let's tear shit down together.