Let’s be real. Among the many artists to be featured on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ List, there was hardly anybody out there that was actually taking it to heart. Even though it’s the world’s largest music poll, raking in millions of votes each year, the list is not dependent on skill or technique. Since the decision in 1997 to have fans vote on who should be the winner, the list has devolved into which DJ can brand themselves the best.
Who could take DJ Mag’s Top 100 seriously when you had DJs like Hardwell, who was previously ranked at number one for 2013 and 2014, screaming out “Fuck the DJ Mag” during his sets? Then you have people like Dillon Francis who clown DJ Mag’s list nearly every year. He was even in an actual produced video by Funny or Die that included huge, influential names like Paul Oakenfold, Boys Noize, and Gary Richards (Destructo), all of whom were making a joke out of the list.
Why exactly were all these artists trashing DJ Mag’s Top 100 list? Well, in reality, the list was actually creating a serious problem. People were buying into it, and not just the fans. Very obviously uninformed promoters all around the world were using it as a source to book artists for shows and festivals. The list held virtually zero credibility, as it was purely based on a fan-vote, but it was still being used to essentially undermine the integrity of hundreds upon hundreds of artists. Even as these artists continued to speak out year after year, there was nothing that anyone could really do about it. DJ Mag continued to post their list every October. That’s where Billboard comes in.
Billboard have taken it upon themselves to create an actual, credible list of the top 100 DJs in the world that will directly rival DJ Mag’s. Instead of just letting the fans vote, the Billboard Dance 100 list will be data-driven, so we can leave that other ridiculous popularity contest in the dust. The criteria that they will be using to create their list include “chart statistics (streaming, track sales, album sales and radio airplay) alongside touring data (show capacities, festival bookings and residencies) and a fan-voted poll.” So yes, as a fan, you will get to a chance to vote for your favorite DJ, but it definitely won’t be the only factor.
Billboard states that this list will “give fans and industry members alike a credible and comprehensive look at the power and influence of electronic dance music's biggest names.” For the announcement, Billboard has posted a video to their socials that include a dozen of huge artists that clearly support the new move like Armin van Buuren, Kygo, The Chainsmokers, ODESZA, Mija, Jauz, KSHMR, Alison Wonderland, Marshmello, and Martin Garrix, who has been in DJ Mag’s number one slot for the past two years.
Who will rank at the top of the Billboard Dance 100? We have some ideas, but without access to the data that Billboard will be analyzing, we can’t be sure. The fan-vote has already begun, and you have until March 16 to cast your vote for your favorite dance artists. The final list will be revealed online “between March 21 and March 22 during a special Miami Music Week launch event.”
Matt Medved, the founder of Billboard Dance, was kind enough to answer some questions that we had regarding how the list works and what Billboard's goals were when they created it. Here's what he had to say about it:
What inspired this list?
There was a pressing need for a data-driven ranking of the top dance/electronic artists. I knew in order for Billboard to achieve such a list we needed to expand our footprint in the dance music scene. I feel fortunate that Billboard's executive team believed in my vision and shared my enthusiasm so we could make Dance 100 a reality.
What do you have to say to DJ Mag?
DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs methodology is very different from ours. Their list is based on fan voting, whereas ours factors in charts statistics, touring data, in addition to fan voting.
How did you decide on the criteria for the ranking system?
We took a look at the diverse range of talents that coexist under dance music's umbrella and brainstormed how we could credibly represent an overarching hierarchy that allows for divergent artist models. Some artists are streaming powerhouses, some may not move the needle there but can sell tickets, while others focus on the soft-ticket club circuit. It can be like comparing apples, oranges and pears. That’s why we settled on a combination of charts statistics, touring data and the fan-voted poll.
It’s important to note, Billboard Dance 100 is not a new chart and won't be put together through a strictly algorithmic number-crunch. Our charts and editorial staff will be holistically weighing the different factors and compiling the Dance 100 list with sensitivity to each artist's creative priorities and their fanbase's consumer priorities. We are specifically focused on 2017’s charts statistics and touring data, but past history will provide contextual backdrop and 2018 bookings will be considered as they represent the past year's results.
What do you think a list like this coming from a source as credible as Billboard means for dance music?
Billboard is the world's largest voice in music, built on the most complete and well-respected database of charts across all music genres. The Billboard charts define success in music. From the iconic Billboard magazine to Billboard.com, the ultimate consumer-facing destination for millions of passionate music fans, to the industry's most elite conference series and influencer events including, the Power 100 and Women in Music – the Billboard brand has unmatched authority among fans, artists and the industry alike.
The Billboard Dance 100's launch marks Billboard’s most significant expansion into the electronic music space since launching the Billboard Dance vertical in 2015. We hope it will continue to help uplift and lend authority to a scene and culture that means so much to millions of fans around the world.
What is the long term goal for Billboard Dance 100?
We are aiming to provide an accurate and representative annual resource for the global dance/electronic music community. As Billboard Dance's new cornerstone franchise, we're excited about Billboard Dance 100's potential to scale to other areas in the future.