Music site stops annual poll over diversity concerns

Churning out a list is a time-honoured get of jail card whenever an editor or journalist runs out of ideas, and lest we forget, it’s that time of year again when newspapers, magazines and websites fall over themselves to issue their annual lists. However, the world’s leading online electronic music magazine, and global club ticketing platform, Resident Advisor (RA), has ditched their annual poll, despite it being their most read feature.

RA was founded in 2001 by Paul Clement and Nick Sabine as an online resource for the Australian clubbing community. It outgrew Australia very quickly and from 2002 had an international focus. Now, RA is headquartered in London with offices in Berlin, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Sydney.

An article in the New York Times in 2015 said RA is read by about 2.5 million people a month. You can buy tickets for virtually every good club event in the world via RA. The Resident Advisor poll quickly became the most influential list in electronic music since being launched in 2006. It impacted on record sales, streaming statistics, club and festival line ups, and even the fee an artist or DJ can command.

“This added responsibility has caused us to reflect on the polls, and to consider whether they are still aligned with our mission and the best interests of the scene,” RA say in an opinion piece. “After a great deal of what you might call “soul-searching” – or more specifically, discussion, both internally and with other members of the electronic music community – we decided they are not.” 

RA claim this not a whim. “The DJ and Live Act lists were overwhelmingly dominated by men, mostly from the US and Europe,” they say. “They didn’t represent the reality of electronic music in 2016, a scene in which countless incredibly talented women play to packed clubs each weekend.” 

Dixon – Winner of RA DJ of 2016

Resident Advisor elaborate on what they perceive to be the polls’ lack of diversity. “It’s also important to remember that dance music is an art form born in queer communities, shaped by people of colour and populated by artists of all genders,” they say. “At best, the lists misrepresented the reality of the scene; at worst, they helped to reinforce some of its harmful power dynamics, which still favour white men above everyone else.”

 RA announced that they will revise their end of year coverage for 2017 with three features highlighting the artists they contend have made remarkable contribution to electronic music over the last twelve months, but will no longer rank top labels, top tracks, top albums and top mixes, compilations or podcasts

It remains to be seen if the rest of the music media follow their lead and throw out their planned content this December, but RA believe they are acting in the best interests of the electronic music community. 

“This is a world we love and respect, and which we want to treat with love and respect,” they conclude. “At this point in time, ending the polls feels like the best way to do that.”

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