“People crack on about it, yeah. But they’re just jealous.” Has clubland gone too commercial? [November 1996]

Claims that dance music has ‘gone too commercial’ have been around since the formative years of acid house.

When rave permeated the charts in 1992, was that the turning point? Or was it when New Year’s Eve 1999 rolled around? Or was it even more recently, with the emergence of a horde of social media wannabes, masquerading as turntable maestros?

Back in November 1996, Mixmag sought to investigate the money trail – how much big DJs are getting paid, what they are asking for, and what the promoters packing out the biggest clubs week-in week-out make of it all.

“The fact remains that the fees for Britain’s top DJs – the handful of super-DJs guaranteed to pack, and also to rock your club – have been going up at a ludicrous rate in the last 18 months,” the article reads.

“DJs like Paul Oakenfold have always come very expensive, but at least you know he’s not going to play anywhere else. Jeremy Healy might well be nipping off to do another set not too far away, but he’s cheaper than Oakenfold and will always fill your club. Any appearance by Sasha will guarantee a road block.

But this autumn, with high profile, high price tours like Sasha and John Digweed’s Northern Exposure and Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto tour, and a New Year’s Eve lottery that sees the top names holding out for the highest bid (Jeremy Healy is £15,000 at the time of writing), things have come to a head.”

As the aforementioned Jeremy Healy – farcically depicted in a top hat and tails – puts it, “People crack on about it, yeah. But they’re just jealous.”

Of course, the figures being quoted in the article (£1,500 for Sasha, and £1,000 for Carl Cox!) are somewhat quaint 25 years on.

But the article is still an interesting snapshot of the dance music industry still at the crossroads between maintaining its underground roots and going in search of filthy lucre…. Enjoy! 🙂

[Article scans taken from Mixmag November 1996]

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