The Electronic Music Industry and Social Media Self-Destruction

Author : Marco Sgalbazzini
July 20, 2017

The Electronic Music Industry and Social Media Self-Destruction

Social media self-destruction seems to be a trend in the electronic music industry as of late.

Ten Walls is perhaps the most known victim of self-induced career suicide, a result of homophobic remarks posted to his Facebook account just over two years ago. Despite a number of apologies, canceled gigs, getting rebooked and then dropped again and then launching a brand-new tour, he has yet to come remotely close to the level of popularity and career trajectory he was enjoying prior to his now infamous statements.

If we rewind a few years you might remember UK producer Boddika taking to Twitter in May 2014 to tell those who work in the service industry in the UK and “can’t speak English” to “FUCK OFF!” Wolf + Lamb recording artist Tanner Ross attacked RA’s Andrew Ryce with a string of homophobic abuse during the same year.

In early June of this year, techno producer Conforce left a sexist comment under a Fact Magazine video of Lady Starlight where he wrote, “10,000 euro’s of gear to make such crap. Stick with the nail art for christ’s sake.” This drew criticism from a string of other techno artists who immediately distanced themselves from Conforce’s comment and his music.

Sadly, this problem isn’t just contained to artists. Last year Detroit nightclub Populux came under fire after an employee posted a series of tweets from the venue’s official Twitter account blaming former United States President Barack Obama and “liberals” for the Dallas Police Shootings of July 7th 2016 that resulted in the killing of five police officers and the injuring of nine others. As a result the club was first temporarily shut down, then permanently closed and finally re-opened months later as The Magic Stick after undergoing months of closure and a complete re-branding back to their previous name. This undoubtedly resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue as well as people losing their jobs.

Just this past weekend a transphobic comment from the Instagram account of Bjarki’s bbbbbb Records was posted on a video of Octo Octa, sparking outrage that resulted in the label having to cancel tour stops and Bjarki partying ways from his label partner Johnny Chrome Silver, who later admitted to making the comments via a public statement he posted on social media. This is an example of what can happen when social media is handled incorrectly but also of the right way to go about addressing the issue in a constructive manner that tackles the issue of an individual posting “on behalf of the label” when in fact it does not represent the label’s core values in the slightest.

And while not social media related, in June of this year Giegling co-founder Konstantin was heavily criticized for sexist comments he openly made in front of a journalist, as reported in a label feature article by Groove Mag. This resulted in public criticism of both Giegling and Konstantin by peers and music fans alike, as well as more shows cancellations by promoters who were quick to distance themselves from his sexist views.

While there are definitely more, these are some of the more recent and publicized social media failures that have embroiled artists and figures known in the electronic music industry. If we take a look at every single one of the aforementioned “PR disasters” we can identify some key common elements:

  1. Despite the high-profile status of some of these artists, the posts were always made by the artists themselves, or the person who was responsible for the social media account in question, such as in the case of Populux nightclub in Detroit and Bjarki’s bbbbbb Records.
  2. The views expressed and/or comments made were those of a personal nature.
  3. The comments that came under criticism were made on topics considered extremely important in the electronic music industry. Namely these PR failures were results of statements that directly clash with the all-inclusive and tolerant ethos that the electronic music scene was built upon.

It’s true, we do live in a free world where all are entitled to their own personal opinion, but by the same token it is also true that by expressing one’s opinion we are also subjecting ourselves to the criticism and counter-opinions of those who do not agree with us. In the business and corporate world it is not uncommon to see employees, including high-level executives and even CEOs, get fired for expressing personal views that are seen to be detrimental to the company’s overall image and bottom-line. We have also seen several cases of companies being at the receiving end of backlash from suppliers, clients and consumers as a result of political, religious and civil right views expressed in a public setting. The point here is simple: while you are entitled to your own opinion, those around you are entitled to disagree with it and to distance themselves from you and anything you represent on a personal and business level.

In the electronic music industry things may work a little differently, but the result is the same. More often than not an artist responds to no one but themselves, their industry peers and, ultimately, their fans. While they may not get fired for voicing homophobic or sexist remarks, they will surely be at the receiving end of criticism from the industry at large as well as those who previous considered themselves a fan. The result? Tours and gig cancellations, getting dropped by record labels, promoters refusing to book you and losing the support of the tens of thousands of music listeners around the world that you spent years introducing your music to.

Truth be told, it is somewhat understandable that artists emerging from certain countries and backgrounds may hold views different from those coming from a more liberal and accepting surrounding. Yet, it only takes a quick overview of the history of house music and dance music culture to know that our industry is deeply rooted on the beliefs of acceptance and equality for all, and that our scene does not in any way tolerate any kind of discrimination. It begs the question then, of whether it may just be wiser to keep certain opinions to oneself while simultaneously going through a period of self-reflection as to why such views seem to clash so vividly with the very foundations that the movement we all love and are involved with was built upon. Life is a constant learning curve filled with personal enlightenment and enhancement, and there should be no shame in introspection for the sake of self-improvement. However, it must also be noted that people are not quite so quick to forgive and forget when the apologies and self-reflection are a result of a major career-ending PR disaster.

As an artist it is vital that you consider your social media strategy, perhaps consulting with a PR and Social Media expert to define a specific brand and voice for all your channels. It is also important that you keep the above PR failures in mind to ensure you do not commit them yourselves, for they could result in the end of your career or, at best, cost you years of hard work.

If you run a label, a nightclub or any other type of business in the electronic music industry it is also important that you manage it as you would with any other business. With regards to the subject at hand you should vet everyone you employ and realize that the person who handles your social media account is ultimately the voice of your brand. It is therefore imperative that you find a person you can trust to be that voice, or that you employ a contractor or agency who can wear the role for you in a professional manner.

Social media matters a great deal in today’s day and age: it’s your introduction and voice to the world. Think twice before typing and make every word you use count, because you will be held accountable for it.

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