Last year in June, I penned my first piece for my new position as the editor for Anima Artist Management. Similar to a “state of the union” address, I wrote it from what I believed to be an objective position which detailed the status-quo of the electronic music industry today. The piece tackled the growing separation between the old-school and new-school realms of thought on how the industry should move forward, and highlighted the importance of being mindful of the quickly growing cultural progression which could run amok and flounder if the flames are not controlled and sustainable.
Since the piece was published, I’ve attended quite a few events since then, met a load of wonderful people, and continue writing for what I believe to be one of the most interesting industries in the world. As diverse as it can be, vibrations of uncertainty and a lack of responsible control still call the shots in what many call an oversaturated market.
This leads us to November 22, 2017, when an opinion piece published by Resident Advisor caught my attention: RA would be discontinuing their popular artist polls which originally gave fans the chance to shine a light on artists who they felt deserved to be noticed. Unfortunately, even the opinion piece admitted the industry had changed immeasurably to where the poll had unintended consequences to the scene’s culture:
“What began as a lighthearted way to praise our favorite artists and toast the year gone by had become something of more serious consequence: an industry index influencing many different parts of club culture, from event lineups to artist fees to the atmosphere of the scene in general (especially at this time of year).“
This was not a secret held back from the public; Artists and fans who follow the industry have long complained of the bias behind these polls. As the industry grew at an unprecedented rate, the line between underground and mainstream were blurred, and a community which was once small and concentrated shoved its way onto the airwaves with gusto. This turned the polls from what was once seen as a sacred and respectable institution for new and established artists into rabid and homogenous popularity contests where the complete diversity of the scene could not be properly expressed.
In my attempt to be completely objective to the workings of the industry, this change can be seen not only as an affirmative action to a very real problem in the scene, but a necessary step to applying some level of moral responsibility to those who have the most power. In an industry which could change in the blink of an eye, the power structures established by big promoters, blogs, and record labels have been viewed more as an uncontrollable consequence to the substantial growth, rather than a blessing. As an up-and-coming artist, it is easy to become overwhelmed in an environment which could be described as oversaturated.
While the decision to remove polls might seem inconsequential to some, this piece marks the beginning of a shift of power back to the artists who might not receive the same mainstream coverage as those involved in House (and more recently, trap). To many, nothing has changed, and they have a good reason to believe that: one blog removing specific polls won’t cause any stir overnight, and the blogs who lack structure and feed off of industry pandemonium will still exist in the years to come.
But for an industry which thrives on the unpredictable, Resident Advisor decided to take a chance on reshaping a toxic part of the culture they unintentionally helped create. By admitting the changing tides of the industry, RA stepped up to the plate and introduced a concept to other big players seldom spoken of: the ability to admit remorse to artists and fans. Whether other big players in the industry follow suite and help take ethical responsibility remains a mystery, but that one RA opinion piece will always be known to me as the newest “shot heard around the world.”