To Like, or not to Like, that is the question.
The latest mini-scandal to hit dance music is Facebook Like Checker. Is it really that big a deal?
Well, the app itself isn't the scandal, it's more the results it throws up—and then the resulting hoo-haa.
So does this matter? Opinion is split at Ibiza Voice.
So, first - what is this? If you are not already familiar, FBLikeCheck is a simple service that allows you to enter the URL Facebook band page (the page where you follow and support your favourite musicians) of any act and get an instant report on where fans of said page are based, and how many of them there are in each country. Here it is, in all its lo-fi glory - http://www.fblikecheck.com/
Unsurprisingly, it has turned up some questionable results. A range of popular artists from the so-called underground seem to have rather large fan bases in places like Indonesia, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Whilst some of these places do have their own expanding scenes and - it has to be said - large populations, it does look a little suspect if your Number 1 fanbase is Indonesia, with 94,000 likes and then Number 2 is the UK (one of the most active dance music markets in the world) and you only have 8,000. The population of Indonesia - according to our friends at Google - is 261.1 million; the UK population is 65.64 million. So maybe it isn't that strange.
How do you prove, or disprove, this?
You might wonder if this matters and, if so, why. Well, that depends, and from what we can gather reading online, it is the people that feel they are most negatively impacted who have the strongest (negative) feelings - starting with the DJs.
Veteran DJs—Kirk Degiorgio being one—have been quick to jump on these revelations. They soon starting calling out various DJs, then the media for not reporting it, arguing that they too have been conned into covering certain acts because of how large their social media following is (and therefore how many clicks they may get for sharing any articles about them.) It seems that, in these cases there is more than a hint of straight up envy. Many of these DJs are in totally different lanes to the sort of people buying likes to get gigs (and it’s also worth asking here, whose idea it it to buy the likes? Insecure artists or, more likely, over zealous managers and agents looking for a quick route to the top?) And anyway, having 50,000 likes alone probably isn’t going to get you booked in a hotspot club in the UK, Germany or Ibiza, for example. Leading promoters here are savvy veterans who will combine their taste, current hype (god knows how that is measured) but, when it comes to the data, will have an insight on an artist's pull specifically in that city.
But if you are a promoter who books someone based on raw social media numbers, it is more problematic. And this is something that definitely does happen, more so in dance music's developing scenes. It is well known that in countries such as China, promoters use the extremely popular DJ Mag Top 100 as the definitive gauge of who is most popular and therefore who to book. Getting into the higher echelons of that vote can easily add an extra 0 to your fee there. With this poll being online, if you can mobilise your entire social media fanbase then you are onto a winner. But can acts do this? Do they? How? We would love to know.
So Facebook likes are a similar tool for those promoters, but also, apparently, those closer to home. This was confirmed by the increasingly prominent Irish DJ Saoirse, who posted on her Facebook that she’s “literally had promoters say to me that I get paid less than this other DJ on the bill because likes are much lower on FB.” In that case, gaming the system by buying fake likes is not only distasteful for a scene that prides itself on authenticity, independence and community, but it is actually damaging to those who don’t take that route. Shane Watcha summed this up with his own post on the matter. “Gutted i didn't buy 100K Facebook likes back in the day. Instead of spending ££££'s boosting my events, label & artist releases. How different this DJ life may have been #supportdjsnotfacebooklikes” But then Shane was based in London, so would it have had the 'desired' impact anyway? Our guess is that locally (eg the UK) no it wouldn't.
The truth is, none of us should be surprised that certain acts are buying likes. They also buy plays and followers on Soundcloud, and pay to send out adverts for the Top 100 (back in the day, artists had managers paying influential radio DJs to play their records and sent out people to buy up new stock in huge numbers to affect the weekly charts, so it’s always gone on).
To these people, dance music is primarily business they need to succeed at. And that’s fine, they can do their thing and not affect those who do it for the right reasons and build organic followings as a result. The promoters that buy into this way of booking probably deserve what they get, or dont get! As scandals go, then, this one pales into insignificance compared to more pressing issues like gender equality or harassment in clubs, but there is crossover in some of these things. We started talking about Charlatans recently and this very much falls in that world.
This is a conversation that needs more detail, we feel, and some facts rather than opinions but, again, the sooner we go back to focusing on music and ability, the better.