[Editor's note: All documents have been redacted to protect sensitive information. All material linked is assumed to be hosted with the permission of its respective owner(s).]
An EDMsnob.com investigation has revealed a scheme in which prominent Electronic Dance Music artists and their management pay large fees to DJ Magazine (known as DJ Mag) in exchange for publishing positive stories about them.
The issue came to our attention during our investigation into allegations of cheating in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll. As a result of that investigation, an insider approached us with financial data revealing many cases in which the UK-based publication accepted large payments in exchange for feature articles about an artist, presenting these articles as news. We were able to match these payments with the resulting articles.
This DJ Mag invoice shows a bill issued to Dutch DJ Ferry Corsten just before September 2011:
This appears to correspond with a large amount of coverage provided for Ferry Corsten in the October 2011 issue of DJ Mag, including a feature article on page 14, mentions on pages 4 and 42, and a traditional advertisement on page 23.
We also uncovered what appears to be a £10,000 payment by Greek DJ Vierro for a feature article on pages 48 and 49 in this issue. (click to view)
This appears to be a regular practice for DJ Mag. In their September 2011 issue, Egyptian duo Aly & Fila paid £10,000 (click to view) for a feature article on pages 50-51.
The most common benefactor of DJ Mag uncovered in our investigation is two-time top 100 DJs winner Paul Van Dyk. We found several payments made within the last year to DJ Mag by either himself or his management (WBD Management) for a variety of services, ranging from legitimate advertisements to this large payment: (click to view). This last document seems to suggest that Van Dyk will shill out at least £15,000 to DJ Mag this year, and it appears to have been enough to secure a feature article in the August 2012 issue:
Typically, news organizations clearly separate paid advertisements from actual news so as not to mislead readers about what is presented as fact and what the publication has been paid to include.
Our investigation also brought to light that a significant portion of DJ Mag’s revenue is derived from advertisements by artists, their agencies, their management or their record labels. We discovered significant payments on behalf of a multitude of musicians, includingGareth Emery, Max Vangeli (twice), Erick Morillo, W & W, Eddie Halliwell and many others. (Click on each name to view the documents)
Such large payments secretly changing hands between artists and DJ Mag call into question the impartiality of the magazine’s other ventures, especially the Top 100 DJ poll. While no evidence has been presented of any tampering or altering of results whatsoever, it is obvious a conflict of interest exists for an organization purporting to conduct an objective poll. The fact that this conflict of interest has not been addressed, either by refusing payments from Top 100 Poll participants, or at a minimum disclosing the conflict to the public, is greatly troubling.
Recently, DJ Mag announced that several DJs are still under investigation for cheating in the poll. This comes after the magazine disqualified relatively unknown Swiss DJ Miss Diamond. It is unclear at this point how the magazine would handle a prominent cheater, given that many popular DJs are part of management companies or talent agencies that have already contributed significantly to the magazine’s revenue. DJ Mag did not respond to our repeated requests for comment.
As a result of these discoveries, our independent investigation into cheating in the poll has been cancelled. We thank our insider for risking a great deal to deliver this information to us. Anyone with more information is encouraged to contact us.
[This story is developing. See up-to-the-minute updates today by following us on Twitter: @EDMsnob. We’ll be working.]