The truth behind DJ Mag Rankings

As you all know, the top 100 DJ rankings from DJ Mag was released a few days ago, crowning Martin Garrix as the number one DJ in the world. For months before this moment, all I could see were instagram posts, tweets, and facebook posts littered with DJs pleading for the support and votes of their fans. Facebook and twitter cover photos as well as profile photos were stamped with the Top100 DJs insignia. DJs would ask their fans to vote for them so that their rankings would climb, and they would. I did and I do every year.

Recently, Pasquale Rotella hosted Armin van Buuren to pick his “Up All Night” tracks on his Night Owl Radio Episode 059. Armin van Buuren has been consistently in the top 5 for years, and was number one for a record five years. In 2010 when Armin was the Number One DJ in the world, he had a lot of pressure from fans. In order to maintain his fan base and retain his high ranking, Armin felt like he had to produce mainstream music in order to please his fans. He basically said that he was losing his identity as a trance DJ, however, my favorite DJ Armin is a visionary who always triumphs entrepreneurially and ingeniously. Armin started Gaia and the record label “Who’s afraid of 138?” in order to regain that sense of purpose and creativity that he had before being voted number one.

So what IS all this fuss about? I read about DJs like 3LAU who tell their fans NOT to vote for them, and are adamantly against the concept. 3LAU has finally released a statement on why DJ Mag rankings matter:

Gareth Emery refuses to participate as well. His duo CVNT5 involving himself and Ashley Wallbridge posted a video satirizing how DJs would pay DJ Mag in order to get the highest rankings. I truly admire CVNT5’s work; in the past, I’ve written an article about CVNT5’s views on fake DJs and ghost producers, which you can read here:

How to Become a DJ Parody (CVNT5)

The video is a whopping 9 minutes, but I highly recommend you watch CVNT5’s video below showing how DJs pay for rankings:

So next time you look at the DJ Mag rankings, take the rankings with a grain of salt. It could be votes from fans that earned that DJ that spot, or money put into DJ Mag’s pocket, but ultimately, it’s the fan that knows who is the best based on the music they make and the way they present themselves.


Several years ago, I was introduced to Monstercat. The song I listened to was Au5’s song called “Snowblind” featuring the beautiful lyrics of Tasha Baxter.

Recently, I started listening to the Monstercat podcast released weekly which features different artists every week. In episode 118, Eminence took over to promote his new EP “Hollow Mind” released on Monstercat. Monstercat is a Canadian based EDM and dubstep labeled founded by Mike Darlington and Ari Paunonen in July 2011. Monstercat allows DJs to sign to release single tracks, giving them the flexibility of bouncing from label to label. Artists such as Nervo, Eminence, Krewella, Dirty Audio, Marshmello, Project 46, Slushii, and Vicetone have released music on this label.

Eminence is a DJ duo consisting of Dillon ‘DLN’ Wong & Mathew ‘Kazmo’ Kazmierowski. I am Chinese, so naturally I was excited to see that one of the members was Asian, as this industry is predominantly Caucasian males. The festival lineups these days are mostly Caucasian males, and with the entrance of Eminence into the scene, there is a little more diversity. On festival main stages, DJs and DJ groups such as Krewella, Nervo, and Steve Aoki have proven to society that females and Asians were talented as well. However, it is important to still choose lineups and judge music based on the talent and ingenuity, not by a person’s ethnicity/race or gender.