This article was originally posted in Italian on Soundwall.
The case blew up yesterday. To detonate everything, a few people: from John Askew to DJs and producers much closer to our world, such as Cassy and Dave Clarke. To sum up: there was a raise of shields against the promotional teaser put in circulation by TNT for its Sofa Sessions operation, in which some very famous (and very rich) people of the scene – see Cox, Troxler, Capriati, etc. – invited everyone to support it. What was it about? A few “important” tour managers saw the consortia – in the end, everybody knows each other in the industry, at certain levels – and, taking advantage of the lockdown phase, for once they decided to take the whim of putting themselves in the foreground as artists.
So far, so good.
The problem arose when they upped their game. They asked their famous employers to contribute with an exclusive mix and be a sort of testimonial for the operation. But what was the operation? Things are a bit foggy here, and it’s primarily the fault of whoever ran TNT and Sofa Sessions. The mixed sessions were available on Bandcamp and they weren’t free; the proceeds went to… went to… it wasn’t clear. To a specific, well-identified entity? If so, the message did not go through. To colleagues in trouble? Well, this was probably the intention (a “corporate” solidarity, in short), as confirmed by the words of Dubfire’s tour manager which you can find here; but even in this case, it’s still really unclear and ambiguous.
So ambiguous that the message which passed was that solidarity should go to the tour managers who started the operation, in other terms the “faces”. All people who work for DJs who earn 10, 20, 50, 100k euros per show, and it’s not clear why they should ask for charity to the world, now that the whole world is in a bit of shit, rather than asking their rich employers.
The employers, i.e. the famous DJs, blamed ambiguity: probably due to a mixture of overconfidence towards their tour managers (unavoidable, as they entrust them with life – often in a somewhat excessive and childish way) and superficiality, they “pushed” the initiative with quite generic words, which really didn’t make it clear that the proceeds of the operation wouldn’t go to their personal tour managers.
Read well the comments below. In particular, that of Seth Troxler (one of the “famous” who showed his face in support of TNT and Sofa Sessions). “This is people helping each other,” he says, and a rough way to explain how the operation was presented to him and why he supported it: that is, a solidarity group in which TMs, “famous” and “protected” by the fame and wealth of their employers, wanted to create a common fund for their more troubled colleagues. Does this mean that the whole “scandal” assumes a different tone? Sure, it’s a half-hearted excuse. Because the whole thing remains very opaque: who decides who gets the proceeds, and who are the tour managers who deserve them? According to which criteria? And who guarantees that the proceeds won’t just go to the creators of the operation? In fact, even Dave Clarke, one of the most upright and pointy thinkers of the whole scene, gave us a big load.
Also here, read the comments carefully. In this case, we must give honour to Joseph Capriati for having shown his face, going down to an area where everyone was well prepared to lynch him. And his tour manager, Andrea Fusco, showed his face too, even though the risk was high. Summing up the whole exchange: Capriati admits that while he never thought of asking for charity for his tour manager, it’s true that the whole operation led itself in a misunderstanding and had a fundamental ambiguity that was difficult to decipher. In the end, what happened in the whole situation? TNT removed the mixes from Bandcamp, made the video with the famous testimonials to push the operation to disappear and issued this statement:
Summing up: “Eh, we fucked up.” The bullshit of not being clear, basically. Now, one can decide if it was just superficiality or if, at least in some people, also bad faith was nested. We can’t know this right now, and who knows if we ever will.
But there are some things you “learn” from all this. First, there is a creeping and growing discontent towards the DJs who have mostly taken advantage of the contemporary system of club culture by multiplying their earnings. A discontent that seeks only a pretext to explode, and here it found one. Some DJs are becoming from beloved idols to spoiled rich people paralyzed by life, to be thrown off the pedestal as soon as possible. That is just the way it is. Blame the populism of the people, sure, but also blame the DJs in question and the whole ecosystem (agencies, management) that has favoured and encouraged the explosion of a certain type of market, to multiply and optimize earnings. Now: it is right to work to earn as much money as possible and to increase the earnings of your clients, it is right indeed; but as in any aspect of life, too much can choke – and you are exceeding the limit of decency, in more and more cases.
Pillories are always to be condemned. And this one has turned into a pillory. Analysing everything with a cold mind, in fact, leads to understanding that things are not at all summarized with “Look at these pieces of shit, they are full of money up to the tip of their hair but they ask us to do charity for their tour managers”. Eh no: that is not the way things are, we are sorry, put away your swords for now.
But it also leads us to understand that there is a disconnection from reality in the world of high-level DJs. A disconnection that leads you to support an operation uncritically, without asking for details, just because “your” tour manager is asking you to, the person you trust 100%, the person to whom you often and willingly entrust everything (…too much?). And tour managers of a certain level, in return, are so immersed in an artificial jet set that they don’t question themselves on how they can be seen from the outside. So, they start from the assumption that each of their initiatives is right, beautiful, fun, well done, enlightened: they are part of a golden, fairy world that everyone likes, right? They never thought that thinking and presenting the matter in such an ambiguous and superficial way could lead to a great and extremely dangerous misunderstanding. Yet, it was enough to think about it for a moment. It was enough to do things properly. And it was enough to understand that it is mounting a discontent towards certain extremes of the “top DJ lifestyle”, and this discontent touches everything that surrounds us, including tour managers. A healthy and fair discontent, as far as we are concerned. Because it could be a bath of humility and “reality check” for everyone.
But here’s the thing, if we turn everything into a pillory against the DJs we can’t stand (because we don’t like them, because they earn too much money, because once my cousin told me that he’s an asshole), it will be just enough shit: good to stir the worst instincts of us all, the most populist ones. And that populism is a shit that never solves problems, but instead aggravates them. It would be enough to look at Trump to understand it.