For the past few months, a blog called EDM Snob was shaking up the dance music world. Written by an anonymous writer, the blog aired the controversies and the dirty laundry of the scam known as the modern dance music scene. It reminded me of TNL, but in blog form.
Today, the writer decided to reveal his real name and location.
Long suspected to be someone ‘in the know’, the EDM Snob turned out to be one Albert Berdellans, a graduate student living in Miami, with no formal industry involvement whatsoever.
Albert decided to reveal himself after he found out that people suspected of being him were getting into trouble with their employers, up to the point of losing their jobs, even. That took a lot of courage on his part. Well done, Albert. However, it does reveal a few sad facts, some of which Albert noted in his farewell post. The first one, in my mind, is the most telling:
Up until this point, EDM media had been full of what a fellow writer in an email exchange called “breathless boosterism.” In other words, people were only writing positive things about EDM. That’s great, but nothing in this world is perfect. You have to tell the whole story.
This is reminiscent of my post from a week or so ago, The Free Flow Of Opinion. He saw the need for the real story to get out, and provided a channel for it. And yes, the modern commercial dance music world is wholly dependent on advertorial. When your entire premise is making overpaid stars out of guys who play back prerecorded sounds in a set pattern, it’s easy for anyone with a modicum of knowledge to see that it’s a complete scam.
The sad part comes in on how the dance music world reacted to these stories getting out. In their quest to keep the public from seeing the old man behind the curtain, the industry started making examples out of people suspected to be the EDM Snob, or at least feeding him information. As Albert pointed out:
here have been times over the last few months where people within the industry have been accused of being me. Sometimes there has even been circumstantial evidence that connects them with something I wrote. In some cases, this has cost people their jobs or seriously damaged their careers. I simply cannot continue to stand by and allow other people to be blamed and suffer for the things I write. No one deserves that.
Frankly, that’s really what stuck with me. The bits and pieces he was revealing, while somewhat controversial, weren’t really that damaging. DJs are still getting booked for $100,000 performances. Clubs still fill up on any given night of the week. However, greed and ego overruled everyone’s good sense and led to a disappointing backlash from the industry.
Furthermore, this story has led me to wonder about the free flow of information. Is it possible, not just in dance music, but in the world in general, to run a media source dedicated to exposing what really goes on in a given area, without compromising journalistic ethics, or being forced to shut down? The dance music industry couldn’t figure out whom Albert was, so they started chopping the heads of suspected informants, hoping to ferret out his identity. I would do the same, since yes, no one deserves that. Especially over something petty like tour schedules and the backstage riders of guys pressing play on CD decks.
Though, at a practical level, it’s just dance music and nightlife. The world will move on with or without the Snob. However, it does reinforce my faith in the self-sustaining nature of the forum concept. At TNL we don’t out the personal details of members unless they want us to. And, I think we’ve managed to hammer home with the venues, DJs, and agents that it is user-driven, so going after us is pointless. I learned this lesson in the CJ days oddly enough. This was just after our acquisition, and prior to the days when Track decided to turn the site into pure advertorial. What the circumstances were was that the notorious (now thankfully defunct) venue, Nocturnal, in Downtown Miami, had the first of many run-ins with unpaid creditors and was subject to a law enforcement-backed collection action, which basically means that the repo men roll up with a cop in tow to do their collections work. So, on the night of the collection action, an anonymous source had sent a forum user some grainy cellphone photos of the trucks and police cruiser in front of the venue. I was home at the moment so I posted a story on the front page, in the sense that it was a breaking news item, and also as an experiment in “realtime” blogging (this was 2006…) through our then-new Movable Type blog engine. The story made the rounds over the weekend, until Monday, when I received a threatening call from an attorney whom represented Nocturnal. A little spooked, I pulled the story. A few minutes later, Nick called me on the carpet, not to ask why I had posted it, but why I had taken it down. The essence was that since it was a news item, and it took place in public (the trucks were on a public street and since PD was involved it was public record), it could stay, and the club didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. The club played on my then-ignorance of the law, and I pulled the article. Of course, within a few minutes, I reposted it, and ignored all subsequent phone calls from the attorney. It never went further than that, but if it had, any judge would have thrown out the case before it reached trial.
The moral of that tale is that a knowledge of the law is your best friend as a blogger and/or a journalist. While I understand why Albert decided to cease publication of his blog, had he chosen to take it further, he could have had an airtight legal defense, backed in part by the US Constitution. However, it’s hard to take this tactic when people’s livelihoods and lives are at stake. The dance music community is very tight, and if you lose a gig under bad circumstances in one firm, there is a very real possibility of being blacklisted throughout the industry.
The industry definitely did not fight fair with Albert on this one. They knew they had no legal recourse against him, so they went for the underhanded tactic of sacrificing people’s careers, to force him to have an attack of conscience and cease publication. Again, I would have done the same. I applaud Albert though for stating this. By doing so, he went out with a bang, and gave the modern dance music industry a much-deserved punch in the mouth. I guess if you are going to go, go with style. Cheers to that, Albert. By the way, you are more than welcome to post on TNL.
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
HST really didn’t say that, but I think it applies to today’s dance music industry. It’s sad.
I think I’ll put on some old vinyl tonight, and remember when it was just about playing good music and having a great night out.