The End of an Era? Pt. 2
About a week ago, I wrote pt. 1 to my 3 piece article series, which covered the dire threat that SFX entertainment and Robert Sillerman’s Monopoly in the EDM industry has on the organic life growth of the dance music industry as a whole. Pt. 2 dives into the EDM.com conglomerate and the potential dangers that their secret ‘slingshot’ feature will have on the already cancerous growth of the electronic dance Music industry.
Edm.com controls a vast…and very instrumental network of accounts on thier Soundcloud with over 1.5 million followers. While they’re particularly famous for Dubstep.NET, they’ve expanded in the past couple of years to create genre-specific channels for trap, trance, house, and drum & bass, giving them some of the most consistent and constant array of play counts on Soundcloud to date. It is clear that they have manipulated Soundcloud’s repost feature which in effect, has continued to grow their networks exponentially. This type of internal policy of reposting content within their own network ensures that their large accounts (which act like magnets, who’s increasing size, means an increase in magnetic strength) get bigger and, in the process grow the smaller groups that they control. What they have relied on is that on the surface, it appears as though a group of guys living in Colorado are truly helping independent musicians succeed, and are being victorious in doing so, when in reality, what they are doing could be consider shady and subversive.
So what is the slingshot feature…? I’m glad you asked! It is nothing more than an agreement between independent artists and small labels to pay for EDM.com’s networks to hit repost, like and follow the client’s profile or track. In any other industry, this would be known as “payola”, or a “PR Service” but essentially, these guys have created a completely in-house market for themselves, and any artist with a spare $3,400 can get 10 records reposted to boast ‘respectful’ numbers that are far from organic or being legitimate.
Figure 1: An email to EDM.COM inquiring about their Slingshot services.
If there were nothing to hide…there would really be nothing to write about, but EDM.com doesn’t actually publicly offer their “slingshot” service anywhere, which surely signifies a red flag that this service might not be ethical. If you consider that this is probably a ‘reference only service,’ it makes sense. They are essentially stealing money by manipulating their understanding of SoundCloud’s new interface. Thus, instead of being transparent about these so-called “promotional” fees, artists and labels that reach out for placement are emailed with the option for “promotion” in the form of posts and reposts, which has inevitably led to the flooding of the Soundcloud network with a high ratio of incredibly average-records with massive play numbers without coverage from credible news outlets. In return, the client artists can then take those numbers and get booked by promoters that only know how to digest numbers, instead of cross-referencing the numbers with the quality of the sound.
Figure 2: Registering an inquiry with SoundCloud
DoAndroidsDance sent several messages to Soundcloud, asking them why more than a dozen accounts were regularly and continually permitted to violate their Spam protection policies, and there was no response whatsoever, as soon as DAD.com began to lay out their incriminating facts (You know what they say about silence under accusation…). Although Soundcloud confirmed that this was in fact a violation and that they would inquire further into their servers to ensure this was not the case (noted in picture 2), as DAD questioned further about the specific case of EDM.com, all correspondence went static. Although DAD.com continuously sent them emails concerning these infractions of their policies, each time they were given the same standard email as a reply, with no feed back or acknowledgement that they were doing or had done anything to fix the problem.
Ironically enough… more information about the ‘Slingshot’ fees leaked months later via a public post in January by Alvi at Consequence of Sound, who asked the EDM Network about some of the “Slingshot” fees that an artist had told him about. The online world watched quietly as EDM.com discretely responded on Twitter and quickly deleted this same response that said “these fees were for ‘PR’ Services.”
Figure 3: Alvi B’s inquiry to EDM.com’s Twitter
Michael Abernathy, an ex-employee of Dubspot.Net whom now works as a multimedia journalist at DAD.com (one of the subsidiaries of EDM.com) was asked about these fees:
“Did I know about the fees while I was with the Network? Sure. I controlled content on a site within the network. The prices spiked after I left and continued to rise. Did I think that shitty records were going up simply because money was exchanging hands? Absolutely. I never earned a penny for the five million plus I got on the network, [and I] never asked an artist for [a] penny for any of the tracks that I uploaded, and didn’t really care what they were doing at all. Though I never received a cent for months of work through the .NET Networks, I was still able to post most of the tunes that I felt to be relevant, and this had a huge affect on the organic success for a lot of incredible artists. I was told that SoundCloud was aware of this service, and that it was on the up and up. As it turns out, this was absolutely incorrect.”
- Michael Abernathy, DoAndroidsDance.com
Michael Abernathy was one of the first activists to really dig into this problem and we at the Drop have a lot to thanks for that. Michael had on his own, reached out to three artists for a quote on why they use this service. While one responded, the other got scared, and the third reported to EDM.com team about Abernathy’s inquiries to let them know Abernathy was sneaking around. EDM.com responded to this news by sending out an email to their entire list of artists, calling Abernathy a “disgruntled x-employee,” and then continued to call DoAndroidsDance “ small.” Abernathy then responded in saying “ I’ve also never manipulated a quote in my life, but the notion is adorable, and [he] truly appreciates the free press:”
Figure 4: EDM.com’s email to their clients.
The reason that this email even exists for the public eye… is because as soon as this email went out, the artists that had gotten support from this network immediately flooded Abernathy to let him know that this email went out. That mass participation of voluntary (and possibly incriminating) information from the artists alone, is quite telling of how the producers actually feel about the people who claim to be legitimately representing their content and their culture (more importantly). Abernathy had been sitting on all of this information for months, and the final nail in the coffin that led him to act was the remix contest hosted by EDM.com that an artist by the name of Dr. Fresch won.
Again, on the surface all appeared to be beneficial for the Electronic Music Industry as a whole: a solid remix from an emerging producer who earned the opportunity to spin at Red Rocks until. This was all well and good, until one realized that Dr. Fresch was already working for PR & Artist Relations at the EDM Network (IE. Someone already working for the PR team hosting the remix contest winning it).
- If you’re charging for preferential treatment on a platform that you control, that’s not PR – its Paylola.Although the term has forever been associated with radio play, because the nuanced uses (and abuses) of social media are still emerging, it’s defined as:
“A secret or private payment in return for the promotion of a produce, service, through the abuse of one’s position, influence, or facilities.”
We certainly can agree that a secret payment that results in the promotion of a product through the abuse of existing facilities has perspired. It’s against the Law. We’re not deeming as an unethical task within the dance community. We are deeming it as unethical because it is a clear violation and could be punished as such, through measures enforced by the FCC.
- We also can agree that with the real fact of the matter: the serious issue at hand here is that due to a lack of revenue streams, regulation, and ethics within the industry sets up a negative precedent, for anyone who wishes make a living off of the industry. Most bloggers for independent parent companies write and work off of passion and aren’t receiving profit for writing up artists, news, and records, and those who are getting paid are definitely not getting enough to pay the bills. We at TheDropMedia.com are lucky enough to have a hands-off parent company, and quite frankly, this should be the standard for the rest of the industry. If this was the norm, the Electronic Music industry could have continued to be amazing.Unfortunately, greed and unethical practices – that surely seems to be the result of monopolies within the industry – are become far too common within the dance community. The standard for success is a consistent and rather transparent top-down effect on content, where someone in a position of power is able to utilize that power to pull strings in an effort to pull someone up and hand them some tools to become successful. This is the type of system that ensured an organic growth. However, with money floods corruption, and we now have a system where most successful people are doing no more than holding the map to success and pulling themselves out of reach for the competition, and selling alliances in lieu of offering quality content that begs proper recognition.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not just pushing the negative opinion for the hell of it. After mixing for over 5 years, attending numerous shows, and dreams of making a living within this industry, I have been very fortunate to experience the raw love and passionate organism that is the Electronic Dance community. But that’s just it, I fear that these sorts of unadulterated practices lead to precedents, which if further ignored leads to a drop in the industry standard; like a cancer. You know who else should be angry with this?
Bloggers, who are working hard, pro-bono, to curate and maintain credible and interesting information while a platform is getting paid $500 every time they hit the “repost” button
Artists, who are making better records than those who are paying for placement and stealing their bookings
PR Firms, who are losing employees and getting a fraction of the results while playing by the rules.
Fans of music, who are being tricked into believing artists are bigger than they actually are
Promoters, who book these acts only to find out that the fan base isn’t real and have to compensate for an empty
So I ask the fans of TheDropMedia, Is This The End Of An Era?
- Apollo. Yo.