In 2015, the Belgium duo and Tomorrowland residents Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike managed to get on top of DJ Mag's top 100 DJs voting. However, in the aftermath, they received a lot of criticism for using promotion teams with the now famous iPads. For example by Hardwell, who tweeted about it and was consequently left out of the Tomorrowland line-up for two years. The iPad teams were spotted at several festivals and even in Belgium's public areas, like shopping malls. It is safe to say that the multitude of the EDM fans are familiar with this story and the critics DJ Mag gets regarding the way the top 100 DJs list is compiled. This year's voting has just been closed, and when I, nonetheless, did an attempt to vote for this year's list, I came across the amazing ruleset they have created for the usage of such promotion teams. Using 'iPad peeps' is permitted, but there are 'strict guidelines' to regulate their use. Let's take a closer look at the developed rules.
- "Artists or organizations wishing to use street teams must register their usage on each occasion. This will involved sharing dates and times of operation, device type, IP addresses, and the location of use."
This means DJ Mag actually has monitored the iPad peeps in their quest for more votes. Through the IP addresses, it is possible for DJ Mag to see how many votes actually came from the devices that were used by the street teams, which allows them to analyze the influence of such teams on the final results. It would be a great thing to have DJ Mag also publish this analysis, in order for the EDM community to better able to judge the list. The downside of this might be that we will be flooded by iPad peeps at festivals in the coming years when it actually turns out to be helpful. But there is more.
- "The device operative or promotional person must hand over the device to the voter, who must conduct the whole process themselves. It is not permitted for the promotional person to enter in the DJ name themselves, this must be a free vote."
So whenever a promotion person has approached you to vote for Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike as #1 DJs [to take just a random example], they were not allowed to type in the names for you. They actually had to physically hand over the iPad to you, so you could log into your own Facebook or Google account, and fill in your top 5 completely by yourself. In practice, this means that if someone did not know how to spell the name of their 'favourite' DJs, the iPad peeps actually had to spell it out loud instead of filling it in for you. This great feature gave you the possibility to fill in other names into your top 5 and thereby ensure freedom of choice among the voters, and potentially also piss off the hired iPad peeps.
- "The location of the promotion must be deemed relevant to the artist. For the avoidance of doubt: festivals, clubs or events featuring the campaigning DJs are permitted. Shopping centres, streets, schools, universities, colleges or other unrelated high footfall areas are not permitted. If in doubt, please ask."
This means no more iPad peeps that are stalking you when you are waiting for your morning train to arrive, when you are in line for the local Starbucks, when you are dropping off your children at their kindergarten, or when you are desperately studying for tomorrow's exam in the university library. Unless....... the DJ in question is giving a guest lecture at your Uni, playing a surprise set at the kindergarten, opening a brand new store in the local shopping mall, or is making a second career as a train driver. Then it obviously is still relevant to the artist in question, and are the iPad peeps more than welcome.
- "DJ Mag will be sending ‘random voters’ to popular events active during the voting process to ensure these rules are adhered to."
'Have you always been dreaming of being an undercover agent, but you failed to get into the secret service or police force? Apply here to make your dreams come true as DJ Mag's next 'random voter'. Who would not apply for such an amazing job? Even if it is just to have the title 'random voter' shine on your LinkedIn page. I sincerely wonder how these people do their job and what situations they got themselves in with the iPad peeps. So when you have been a random voter or you know one that wants to tell their story, drop us a message!
The number of questions about how to implement and enforce these rules in practice is infinite, but DJ Mag appears to be dead serious about it considering their punishment:
So far, no disqualifications from the pole have been made public, but it will be interesting to see what happens when someone does. On the one hand, DJ Mag wants a 'valid' pole that provides a proper image of the worldwide popularity of DJs. Therefore they simply had to come up with something of a ruleset to keep the use of iPad peeps within some boundaries. But on the other hand, these teams that are randomly asking people on the street to vote, also have a commercial value for both the poll and DJ Mag as a press outlet. Therefore, it is questionable how and whether these rules are actually being reinforced by DJ Mag themselves, and whether they will be transparent about their analysis towards the use of iPad peeps by DJs in this year's list. Being transparent will definitely be a good step forward in restoring confidence into the list and its results. This year's results will be announced during the Amsterdam Dance Event on the 20th of October.