the scale of ignorance
est. reading time: 1hr 35mins


My name is Roshan Chauhan also known as R.O.S.H. and this a direct follow up to the first piece titled: ‘A Letter to RA and the rest of the UK music press’ [1] – a sprawling work that used the historical and geographical lens of London’s evolving sound, between 2009 and 2016, to reveal how only one side of the story ends up being told in its coverage. It is required reading as this piece builds on the concepts and arguments it made. To refresh memories, the summary of investigations is below:

How a prominent editor at Resident Advisor can erase the significance of UK Black music; How even before the popularity of online music journalism, outlets’ coverage, acknowledgement and the true narratives of Black and working class scenes has always been poor; How the industry fails to find the right answers to those problems even today; How the value of Black music is defined by how successfully it has been co-opted by white artists; How snobbery and elitism prevented the press from investigating Shuffling and its associated scene; How the constant attack by authorities on venues culturally important to Black and working class scenes went ignored, even as the industry took stock of the capital during its most dire hour; How consistent ignorance in the press sends a message to Black people about the coverage they do partake in; How industry ignorance contributes to societal inequalities while pretending to be progressive.

In the proposals sections we have seen that the structures of racism and economic inequality can be identified and that media outlets need to join together if they are serious about shutting down these structures; How a more open form of journalism with simple policy adjustments can create a more trustworthy outlet; How to move beyond commodified diversity and tokenism in new hires and contributors; How to level the playing field and remove influence from services that uphold structural racism and how to create a more accountable and transparent press.A Letter to RA

Beyond the ubiquity the previous piece reached through private emails, DMs and social media, on an institutional level, things have appeared to move forward. It received a direct statement from Resident Advisor in a pinned twitter post [2]. DJ Mag posted what they call a pledge ‘presenting significant changes within the company’ [3]. Lastly, Marcus Barnes - the editor of both this and the previous piece - did a follow up with Black writers and artists who read the letter [4].

Personally, I received over 250 messages, either on Instagram or in my email inbox, all full of overwhelming positivity, support and feedback. One of those emails was from the ex-Editor in Chief of Resident Advisor (2013-2018), Ryan Keeling. He has allowed me to quote directly from the email and his insight will be referenced where appropriate.

This follow up was always in the works regardless of the reception of the first. The comparison table of coverage between Hessle Audio and an anonymous list of names is the jump off point here. There is a brand new methodology, new sample sets, new measurements and as a result, new numbers.

But numbers are without meaning if not given proper context and within this piece I hope to outline how communities without the ‘middle class niceties’ discussed previously, operate when they are shut out from systems that the music press and their beneficiaries take for granted.

As the driving force of this piece is related to data collection, methodology and analysis, I left some of the “drier” aspects of the process out for brevity and interest. They are documented in more detail inside of companion documents and the working spreadsheet - linked later in their relevant sections - should you wish to explore them.

This is the most irrefutable picture yet of the Scale of Ignorance within UK music press.

People Not Data

Sample Selection

It starts with the gathering of 200+ names, scoured from the event pages I had already explored while researching the first letter [5] and looking at patterns of consistent bookings. Many artists either don’t have a Resident Advisor artist profile or aren’t correctly tagged. So, when necessary, I was manually noting names and cross referencing between promoter pages and venues’ previous event listings to figure out who was a one-off and who was a long standing participant. It’s an important distinction to make, filling a spreadsheet with a list of people who aren’t clearly part of the community would skew the results against the press and invalidate the point I’m trying to make.

Part of that process led to the eventual decision to filter the names to those specifically in deep tech. For the numbers to be meaningful it needed to represent something specific and it needed to represent something timely. Looking at deep tech coverage would yield a more recent observation on the current state of the music press than, say, UK funky would or something more era spanning. Early tests with a handful of names from across Black & working class genres in the last 10+ years showed a distinct difference between the two. There are a few prolific UK funky era producers that have complained about their music not getting a fair shout at the time. I would agree. Initial tests though, showed just how good UK funky had it in comparison with deep tech.

Unlike UK funky, deep tech artists were not given access to channels that would get them into the view of a white middle class audience. There was no Kode9 of Hyperdub to step in and present these artists as ‘more palatable’ through press influence. It didn't even have a number of highly successful white DJs attempting to convince journalists that this music was important to them [6]. Which might be the lowest depths of recognition available, but at least it was something.

The other reason was simply time. The data gathering for this piece started just a few days after the first letter came out and has been tweaked up until time of this follow ups release. I went through event pages scouring for names, finding SoundCloud profiles and checking every mix or track to correctly determine if they were playing ‘deep tech’ or another house variation. Manually scrutinising each search result to check if too many irrelevant results were being brought up. Throughout the process I intermittently checked with members of the scene for accuracy.

During my search I came to realise just how limited my understanding was of the length and breadth of sound that the words ‘deep tech’ encompass. As writer Dominic Morris wrote in his retroactive piece in The Guardian [7].

The scene has tried to avoid pigeonholing by nomenclature, either using the older names “tech house” and “deep house”, or unsatisfactory compromise terms such as “urban house”, and “underground house”… …But the name that has gained most traction is “deep tech”, a terribly insipid name for an incredibly powerful music.Dominic Morris

Deep tech isn’t really a genre term. Most nights, particularly in the earlier years, advertised the sounds being played through the adage ‘Deep, Tech, Minimal.’ or ‘Deep and Tech House’ [8]. The curation of external sources by DJs and how that in turn influenced the output of producers within the scene, range wildly. Deep tech - more accurately – is a label for a movement of Black & working class DJs, artists, nights and dancers that cross–pollinated, allowing it to grow to the size that it did.

I encourage everyone reading to check the excel sheet after the results and go through the list of names I scoured and put together, not all of them could make it into the results table for methodology reasons but I have tried to link every name to either their RA page or Soundcloud account. Put a face to the name. Listen to their art. To those that I have missed I cannot apologise enough and the irony of it is not lost on me.

📄 Sample Selection Methodology

Recognition of Existence

$$hits = number~of~Google~search~engine~results$$ $$Recognition~of~Existence~(RoE) = hits~for~a~given~name~among~outlets$$

Recognition of Existence or RoE is the primary score being compared. Its name reflects the incredibly low bar of entry to register a hit. It is calculated simply by using Google to site search for artist names.

The value of these hits is not taken into account. A feature piece in RA will count for the same as a 2nd hand mention by another artist or a track listing in a mix. But coverage often begets coverage so anyone with a feature usually has more points anyway in the time building up to that piece and in the aftermath of it due to the nature of press campaigns/interest.

This is a choice that works in favour of the press, the same article will show up as many times as someone’s name is mentioned in it. Given that there are 120+ names, all related to the same scene, used in the final score it creates a large potential for overlap.

There’s a lot more quirks to the gathering of this data outlined in the methodology after the results.

Participation & Community

$$UK~Participation= hits~for~a~given~name~in~RA~event~listings$$

A UK participation score is calculated by looking at hits for exact name searches in Resident Advisor’s archive of events AND the term “United Kingdom”, isolating results to just UK gigs. The score does not equal the number of events played (and undermines the impact of producers), but it is broadly representative when used as a comparison tool. For the Black & working class community I think this number under represents their true ‘participation’ for a couple of unique reasons.

Even before deep tech, Black & working-class organisers were subverting traditional systems and ticket outlets. Parties like Circle that pushed their own dubbage sound curated secret oversubscribed guestlist-only nights to ensure a particular crowd of house lovers where no RA listing was necessary or warranted. Host & promoter Tippa [9] explained how it worked to Martin Clark in a 2010 interview [10].

We just wanted to give people a bit of exclusivity. Normally you can just go, buy a ticket and pay your money… We wanted them to feel part of something and actually create something and help it grow. … all the members who joined we wanted to create a following where they knew what they were coming to hear… When we’d do an event we’d never promote it, you’d just get an invite through the post.Tippa Demus

For larger events, promoters leveraged their grassroots audience to push traditional ticket sales in a variety of ways. A look at a House of Silk event listing [11] reveals the sort of methods used to reach their core audience effectively. Multiple alternative ticket sellers are indicative that most of the audience are unlikely to be RA reading regulars or even have accounts. Sellers more associated with the kind of live music events that punters might already have accounts with.

The coldness of being presented with an RA ticket page was augmented with community engagement. Physical, weatherproof flyers strapped to traffic lights in the communities where their audience lives [12]. Tickets available by directly messaging the promoter of the event, first as telephone numbers then BBM codes [13], later on WhatsApp, creating real tangible connections with their audience. Tickets available in physical locations important to the community - as anyone who has even just driven past Bagel King on Walworth Road, south-east London, at 4am in the morning knows [14]. This is not an in and out eatery. Parked cars line the road directly in front of it, blaring the latest ‘road music’, be that grime/road rap/drill singles or deep tech mixes. It turns into its own night-time community space for just a few hours and a ticket to one of the largest deep tech nights in London is readily available, along with a jerk chicken bagel. Anecdotally, I know that in the case of House of Silk at least half of all 3,000 tickets for their Great Suffolk Street Warehouse events are sold outside of Resident Advisor.

Despite all of this, UK Participation is still an important measure. For a scene that largely did not have access or knowledge of the systems that their middle class peers did, like communication agencies, measuring the relative number of gigs becomes the most direct measure of community value. I’ll explain more on that point later but broadly, the promoters, the audience and sometimes the venue owners were all from similar communities or backgrounds and it’s not like any of them could be told by an outlet who too look out for. Radio stations, scene personalities, YouTube channels, Facebook groups, WhatsApp messages, were the agents of communication here.

Keeping it down to just UK limits the comparison to an area where getting gigs would be attainable through community involvement alone. Gigs abroad are often limited by your exposure to outside territories, exposure that comes with coverage on platforms that also have a worldwide audience.


Our point of comparison is the label Hessle Audio, used because (outside of the control of its three core members), it has come to represent something particular to the journalists that cover them. The sound of it, although evolving, is always referenced with an air of British exceptionalism, a superior UK take on a perceived European dominated sound. Its members also reflect the makeup of the press accurately and its audience in Britain – in a catch 22 situation - lines up similarly with the RA British readership.

The explicit details of the methodology are defined after the results. It includes instructions on how the data was collected. At every point in constructing the comparison, from sample choice, RoE calculation and methodology, it has been designed to stack in favour of the press. Every data point is scrutinised for relevance. If a name brings up irrelevant results when searching for either UK Participation score or Recognition of Existence (RoE) score then the name is thrown out of the final calculation.

The Scale of Ignorance is a relative unit of measurement. It provides us with a comparison between the number of times Hessle Audio and its three members are in the ‘featured’ or ‘news’ sections equivalents in Resident Advisor, mixmag, DJ Mag and FACT Mag and 120+ names of predominantly Black artists and DJs that were active participants in deep tech between the years 2009 to 2016. It shows how many more times press outlets continued to cover the same three white artists compared with an entire active Black UK scene.

To calculate the Scale of Ignorance, we take the Hessle Audio RoE score and divide it by the deep tech RoE score for each outlet. Results rounded to the nearest whole number.

In summary then:

$$hits = number~of~Google~search~engine~results$$ $$UK~Participation= hits~for~a~given~name~in~RA~event~listings$$ $$Recognition~of~Existence~(RoE) = hits~for~a~given~name~among~outlets$$ $$Scale~of~Ignorance~(SoI)={Hessle~Audio~RoE \over Deep~Tech~RoE}$$


This is a snapshot of the UK electronic music media's past. It does not dictate its future. If we cannot openly and forensically investigate our previous mistakes, then we have no hope of understanding what must be done next.

All Outlets
Scale of Ignorance
DJ Mag Carl Loben
mixmag Duncan Dick
FACT Anoushka Seigler
RA Will Lynch
Aaron Coultate
DJ Mag
Scale of Ignorance
2009 - present Carl Loben
2009 - 2015 Ben Murphy
Scale of Ignorance
2015 - present Duncan Dick
2007 - 2015 Nick DeCosemo
Scale of Ignorance
2018 - present Anoushka Seigler
2016 - 2018 Al Horner
2012 - 2015 Tom Lea
Resident Advisor
Scale of Ignorance
2018 - present Aaron Coultate
Will Lynch
2013 - 2018 Ryan Keeling
2007 - 2012 Todd Burns

📄 Methodology & How To

📊Working Spreadsheet

This is a failure by the press to tell the stories of Black and working class people in London in its most irrefutable terms.

The outlet with the lowest Scale of Ignorance value is DJ Mag with ~5. This means they gave Hessle Audio approximately five times the amount of recognition than a list of more than 120 active Black and working class participants associated with the deep tech scene.

There is a clear division between the results of the physical magazines and those of the more online orientated blogs and I don’t think it’s because the magazines were that much better at giving deep tech coverage that the gap in SoI might suggest either. Both Resident Advisor and FACT mag stray away from covering the most commercial aspects of the electronic music landscape. Whilst the senior editors of DJ Mag and mixmag would probably argue that they need to appeal to a wider audience with coverage leaning to the most commercial aspects of dance music. I don’t blame them, they are still trying to shift copies in supermarkets and news agents at airports and train stations. A comparison between the 2016 Resident Advisor Poll [15] and the 2016 DJ Mag poll [16] shows the stark difference in audience.

Specifically with DJ Mag, there is the issue of festival and event adverts. Google search throws up hits even from the text in archived magazine PDF scans. They unfortunately had to be included and counted as I could not possibly filter them out from any of Hessle Audios results, who’s RoE scores for DJ Mag results are in the thousands. This is another reason why the unit of measurement is called the Recognition of Existence. It counts even if it’s paid for. But a name in a magazine, regardless of entry method, is better than no mention at all.

When the Scale of Ignorance reaches into 3-digit territory – as it does for FACT [93] and Resident Advisor - a new set of vocabulary becomes applicable to describe the nature of the error. Words like contempt, injustice and segregation become increasingly appropriate language to use in the description of the results.

When Resident Advisor pinned the previous letter [1] to their Twitter profile [2] it offered a series of additional statements including:

To any artists or readers who feel ignored, misunderstood or otherwise done wrong by RA for the reasons Rosh describes, we are truly sorry. We are doing everything we can to do better.Resident Advisor

The apology given by RA here puts the onus of measurement on the reader. It asks, “Do you feel ignored?” With a Scale of Ignorance score of ~225, that measurement for participants of deep tech has been quantified for them. Black erasure has occurred here, there is no question of feelings.


Community vs Press

Hessle Audio’s total UK Participation score is ~9400. The total UK participation score of everyone in deep tech is ~34000 and yet Hessle Audio still received ~32 times the RoE score, which is as close to a relative measure of actual coverage we can get.

So what happens if the number of names are scaled back until their UK Participation scores become comparable? In other terms, if Hessle Audio’s UK Participation score is ~9400, how many names from the list of 120+ deep tech participants do we have to select to at least equal that number – and of those names, what is their total RoE score? We can expect that the Scale of Ignorance will increase as the number of names selected is significantly fewer. If we order by RoE score and pick the names from those who had the highest RoE down to the least, until the Participation scores are equal, we find that to be true. The Scale of Ignorance increases, but only a bit to ~34.

Comparison of how the data looks when ordered by either RoI or UK Participation

But when we order the list by UK Participation score and chose names starting from the highest to lowest, until the Participation score is equal to Hessle Audio’s. The Scale of Ignorance jumps to ~136. That’s ~4 times more than when sorted for top Recognition of Existence. Earlier I discussed how for deep tech participants, the UK Participation score was not just a relative measure of gigs, but also of community value. To get a better grasp at what these results mean we need to investigate that relationship further.

Ava Word™ [17], which is mentioned briefly in the previous piece, was a grassroots underground house night. At the time, none of the DJs on the line up could be described as ‘headliners’, most were friends of the promoter Casper. After carefully choosing a slot for his first night at Cargo, in Shoreditch east London [18], Ava Word™ pulled in 3,000+ people. As it grew Casper felt pressure from his team, and the growth of competing nights, to go bigger and book DJs from abroad [19]. Casper reflected on the value and cost of outside influence even in just booking DJs not from the community in an interview with DJ Jawzy on in 2019 [20]:

Doing that- booking an EU (artist). It really is a sort of stab in the back because we have nothing, we come from nothing, we’re all boys that come from nothing. So, when you’re giving all that money to a guy that doesn’t even know nothing about you or your brand or your audience… and then you’re giving £200 to the guy that’s supporting your thing from the ground up? It doesn’t make sense to me. That was the idea with the line ups. I wanted to keep everyone that is working hard in providing a London sound, London base, London origin, because that’s what we are. That was the idea behind those line ups.Casper

Eventually Casper caved to the pressure from the rest of his team to go bigger with a larger outsourced line up and upon reflecting whether it made a difference Casper said:

No. I was there the whole time… …I’m hands on. I didn’t see no difference… Not at all. If I could get that money back… Because we started doing that thing where my audience wasn’t people that I went up to street and was like “Hi, are you interested in house music? Well guess what, I’m throwing a party on Saturday, would you like to come?” These were foundation estates. The big boy on the estate would tell his people – and that’s 20 man from one estate. I did that times 10, times 15, times 20, throughout the whole of north and east London.Casper

A perfect example of the community being self-selecting and unsullied by the influence of communication agencies is the story of the producer & DJ Riaz Dhanani [21] who first got his start at the Ava Word™ XOYO nights. Casper recalls it in another interview DJ Jawzy on a year later [22]:

DJ: Riaz came in towards the end with (Adam) Cotier.
CP: Riaz wasn’t actually Djing.
DJ: I thought they went back to back?
CP: You’re right but when they came-
DJ: He weren’t on the line up though.
CP: Exactly, that’s because he didn’t sell himself as a DJ, he was a studio-
DJ: So Adam Cotier went to a booking and brang another DJ with him even though he’s not on the line up…
CP: But yeah, he didn’t start out as a DJ, he was just producing and Adam (Cotier) was just like, come and mix, come and back it.
DJ Jawzy / Casper

If the community thought he was bad, he would not have had another gig, but instead he has the second highest UK Participation score in the data set, this is all while having an RoE score of just 34.

The jump in score when we sort by Participation tells us that there is little correlation between what the press are covering and what the community are supporting. We can visualise that dissonance using a scatter plot [23]. Mapping Recognition of Existence vs UK Participation we get the graph below.

Recogntion of Existence vs UK Participation

We can see how specifically in the case of a community that was largely oblivious of systems their white middle class peers had access to; How valued you are by the press, as awarded by the amount of coverage - bears no relationship to the communities value, as awarded by the number of gigs. Or in other terms, the press’ coverage bears no semblance of reality compared to actual scene activity.

This just highlights another issue that communication agencies can bring to the system. They subvert the choices of the community and elevate artists regardless of that communities’ opinions. It distorts the experience on the ground, eventually influencing and bypassing it all together.

Tales of Ignorance

Throughout the research process I discovered articles I hadn’t before, where hints of recognition that something was going on were given, but never follow up on. Here, FACT mag most notably brings up Lance Morgan once in a question to XXXY during an interview to promote his EP Last Dance [25].

FACT: What stuff has been inspiring you most lately? ‘Goldfish’ had that deep tech / Mark Radford / Lance Morgan type vibe – have you been checking that stuff at all?

XXXY: I’ve been listening to a lot of Hodge, Kowton and Workshop EPs, the new Bjork album and the Sebastian Mullaert & Eitan Reiter album on Mule Musiq. I hadn’t made the connection with ‘Goldfish’ and deep tech but now I can definitely see it. I have been checking out a little bit, mainly the Mark Radford mixes.

Someone at FACT was clearly aware deep tech existed but their SoI score of 132x doesn’t reflect that because no one seemed to have cared enough to perhaps use their platform and resources to dig deeper. Ryan Keeling addresses this sort of inaction in his response to my open letter.

For about six months, perhaps in 2015 or '16, I was considering the idea of writing a piece on the deep tech scene. I was aware of its popularity, felt it was subject to snobbery (although I hadn't then made the connection to racism) and thought it was interesting that it was happening in London with seemingly little press attention. But in the end, my connection to - and understanding of - the scene was so weak, I didn't end up covering it. I hadn't been to any events, I didn't know anyone involved in the scene and I had never been pitched any stories from writers or publicists connected to it. So rather than putting in the necessary effort, viewing it as an opportunity, I put the idea on permanent hold. For me, this almost feels like the situation in microcosm. The white system hadn't come to include deep tech, and so I was comfortable to let the coverage slide. And no one within the company was going to challenge me on this.Ryan Keeling

The subtext around the “Largely Irrelevant: Andrew Ryce” dissection was not lost on readers [26]. An irked Ben UFO, more than willing to recognise and highlight the directly Black lineage of the new ‘house / bass’ sound of London to a journalist with an idolised and whitewashed narrative already forged in his mind. Ben isn’t the only one that has attempted to use their privilege and platforms to highlight to press talent (or the origins of what they do) to fans and media. Joy Orbison has booked the legendary house DJ Petchy on several occasions. The first doldrums mix [27] feels like a homage to a Petchy show. But Petchy’s RoE is just 9. With the only two hits in RA coming from the same Slackk album [28] tracklist titled ‘Old Petchy Shows’. It might be the most tangential form of RoE points that I allowed to count. Compare that with Joy Orbison’s RoE of ~14400… it’s clear not much rubs off.

They Can't Ignore Us

The results raise a question about the validity of a saying minorities in all creative industries are aware of. “Let’s get so big they can’t ignore us.” The results beg the question however – just how big do you have to be?

That is a video [29] of DJ S (missing his usual MC Secret Agent) on his show from 2011 giving a status update on the ticket availability of a night called Indulgence [30]. He ran at least one other night at the time in the Thomas A Becket on Old Kent Road [31], a pub/bar with a capacity of just 200. The other night was called ‘House & Garage’ which saw a rotation of DJs and MCs including Sef Kombo, Carlos Aires, Perempay and MC Creed [32]. Two years later, at the start of 2013, he would launch a night called House of Silk in the same place. Its 1st Birthday [33] was in Hidden [34], an 800-capacity venue. The next event [35] was at The Scala in Kings Cross [36], a 1,500-capacity venue. By its 2nd birthday [37] it was at the Coronet Theatre in Elephant & Castle a 2,600-capacity venue [38]. Before House of Silk had even reached its 4th anniversary it had found a semi-permanent home at Great Suffolk Street Warehouse, a 3,000-capacity venue.

Shenin Amara also runs several large nights [39] including House Passion [40] for a time in partnership with AR (Antoine Richards). He explained its origins in this interview with Maximus Stephanos [41].

My first ever event was in 2002… I did a grime event, I was quite young back then. It was in Hackney, where Hackney was the epicentre for grime, now it’s the epicentre for vegan restaurants. I did Chats Palace and we had a load of the old grime people, Ruff Sqwad, a lot of the urban DJs. It was a good event, it was when all the under 21s was going off and everyone was coming through… In 2012 I started playing house on radio just after grime days. What happened with grime was, because it was so ‘war’, because there was issues with putting on events and artists and it was very underground, it didn’t have the following it does now. So the radio station that I was rolling with, Déjà vu, they basically booted off all the grime (DJs) and then the first era of deep soulful house started coming through and cos I was doing the breakfast shows, I was doing like 12 hour shows, even longer, like every day. Everyone fell in love with the music then with house. I was looking up to Circle, everyone that was educating me, all the other DJs that was on Déjà vu back then and that’s when I started playing it. I always loved it and then I started having house rooms in my events. Then in 2012 I said, ‘Alright, I’m gonna start House Passion’ a spin-off of another event that was more funky and R&B, Pink Passion. I started it in House & Terrace, which is now known as Studio 338. I went away for the summer with a couple of guys, Mr Steven Cee aka Cheeky and I bumped into AR (Antoine Richards) then formerly Dexter. I was there for the summer and then came back, and saw wow, this house thing… I need to get involved, cos I saw a lot of my fans from the other music were sort of veering towards that… …It was all unplanned how busy it was, I had to stop all those other events.Shenin Amara

Steven Cee, along with DJ Majesty, runs the house night Audiowhore a night that originally started with the draw of inviting live PA’s for the largest tracks in house at the time. He explained its rapid expansion to Lance Morgan on in 2017 [42]:

For me I started in Release the Groove (record store) back in 2002. That was more of a UK garage, house, grime era to those of the music in my ear at the time. And the older I got on the more I progressed and the house sound was more defined for my ears, so I started to play it a bit more and in between those times I working at XL recordings, Rhythm Division records, a little distribution company going on and then started promoting back in 2010. Audiowhore started in 2011. What happened was me and (DJ) Majesty went to a rave – we just didn’t like the vibe… The music wasn’t on point, but the DJs were big DJs. So we thought, "Let’s just create a rave and select DJs that we know play good music and try and get everyone together to have one good vibe in the rave”. We did it for the vibe really. The first Audiowhore [43] was (DJ) DAKAR, ‘I Got That Feeling‘ [44], I’ll never forget because at the time the tune was massive. But we was in Colosseum… it was a good rave, good party, but it wasn’t exactly how we wanted. But the next one was really when we got put on the map, we had Ali Love at House & Terrace. It was right the song… …Right venue, it was so on point, it might even be one of my best raves ever, that second party there. That sort of put us right on the map and from there we’ve gone from strength to strength. And musically we’ve gone more down the tech route but the numbers have always gone up and gone up, ever since we were in Area, Watford (think he means Vauxhall [45]) and we had 1,000 people outside and 1,000 people inside and the club only holds 900. That’s when we knew we were massive. Then we moved to Coronet [46], which was a good sort of era for us. We had never been in such a big venue and we were selling out big 3,000 capacity rooms every time we put on events so that was massive. And then on to Great Suffolk Street (Warehouse). That’s the era that defined us. Those parties solidified us as the number one brand in London at that time. People would just come because it was Audiowhore, they didn’t care about the DJs, they came because they knew they were going to have a good time.Steven Cee

He also runs Siesta [47] a house night that has its residency at Ministry of Sound [48] and Malia live [49] that brings Black UK music stars in afrobeats, pop and beyond to perform every summer. He also runs the revived Eskimo Dance events [50] originally just at the IndigO2 but has since expanded to Leicester [51], Southampton [52], Bristol [53], Glasgow [54] Australia [55] and more.

Ed Gillett notes, in his ‘review’ of Housekeeping’s EP Faces [56], his observations on the state the dance music industry found itself in pre-covid.

As profits and audiences for electronic music have ballooned over the last decade, its infrastructure has increasingly been annexed by large entertainment conglomerates, our language shifting almost imperceptibly from vaguely egalitarian talk of ‘club culture’ to the creepily neoliberal ‘night-time economy’ in the process. Everything from inflated artists’ fees to soaring rents and council cuts have served to squeeze out grassroots promoters and decimate small-scale venues in the UK over the last ten years; an increasingly professionalised, competitive and hostile marketplace has centralised around UK powerhouses like the Columbo Group and global behemoths like Live Nation, AEG and (until recently) Red Bull.Ed Gillett

But these promoters are not bored hyper capitalists; gentrifying property developers [56], restaurant owners [57], or six-figure salary earning ad men swooping in to have their say on dance music. They are cut from the same cloth as the community they operate in as shown by Casper, the Ava Word™ promoter’s previous reflections. They have spent decades building up the knowledge and skills to run successful events and adapted to the needs and tastes of their audience. All without access to the traditional structures that middle-class participants can barely imagine a world without.

These are just a handful of examples in a scene brimming with activity [5] - all while facing some of the most challenging circumstances a promoter can face, as Kitty Amor highlighted in her response to the previous piece [4]:

Seeing the table listing over 40 club nights (either headed by Black promoters or with a large proportion of Black ravers) that were held in clubs which have been shut down for licensing or redevelopment is infuriating. In the resurgence of some of these clubs, many of these events have not been re-housed - gentrification of the nightlife speaks volumes here.Kitty Amor

Shenin Amara has a RoE score of 1. Steven Cee has a RoE score of 3. They are both prolific DJs and producers. So, really, just how big do you have to be before they stop ignoring you?



The previous letter discussed proposals around ending the influence of communications agencies; toning down the amount of coverage given to individuals or finding a way to integrate those pieces into a larger picture; issues about truly diversifying coverage with headhunted staff/freelance hires; the implementation of a double blind open submission system for music coverage and review; the decoupling of coverage from PR cycles; the potential creation of an independent complaints commission for increased transparency when issues in coverage do arise.

The following additional proposals are focused on tackling issues related specifically to Black & working class scenes community, discovery and participation.

Let Them Speak

When Ben UFO, shared the open letter to Twitter [58] he commented further on the ‘white middle class niceties’ aspect of bias in journalism.

Something I've noticed over the past 15 years or so is that there's been so little time/energy/money put into covering grass roots dance music scenes that, more often than not, it falls to artists to take responsibility for putting their work into a historical and social context. But obviously not every musician has the skill-set, resources, time or energy to do that. Not everyone has the same access to that 'wider context' either. at one point when I was much younger, I thought I wanted to be a journalist. I can approximate the language of it, I can talk confidently (at least for me..!) about where our music fits, and I can see clearly the doors that speaking that language can open. That's privilege.Ben UFO

I’ll address the lack of resources argument later, but Ben is outlining this issue of weight that outlets put on not just artists being able to contextualise their output, but rather how they contextualise that output, usually in a way that requires privilege to ‘approximate the language of it’. The opener to Tijana T’s Art of DJing piece on Resident Advisor inadvertently touches on this problem [59].

Through 20 years of hard graft, Belgrade's foremost music journalist became Serbia's breakout DJ.Gabriel Szatan

Although English is partially spoken as a second language in Serbia, Tijana T’s grasp of it is excellent and puts her at a special advantage over her other Serbian peers. Alongside her years of hard graft, this is a key factor in her ‘breakout’ story.

In Shawn Reynaldo’s latest newsletter [60] he falls back to a number of tropes in explaining the status quo.

where does the money come from to hire new Black and POC writers and editors, or to take more drastic action and do things like create mentorship programs and paid internships for aspiring journalists from underrepresented communities and backgrounds?Shawn Reynaldo

Every time the idea of minority voices is brought up, without fail it is never more than a sentence away from the importance of mentorships and paid internships. Implying that this particular demographic needs to be taught a specific way of communicating before they are allowed to have their say. That coming from an underrepresented community, being Black or minority ethnic means you, by default, lack the nuance and abilities of your white peers were it not be for their guidance and training. This argument pairing also implies blame on those communities for being underrepresented. I don’t disagree with the idea of more mentorships and paid internships, but the context it’s often paired with portrays it as a caveat rather than an addition.

I touched on the topic of language and discrimination in the previous proposal around ending the effectiveness of communications agencies. In response to my piece writer Danielle Koku mused further from a journalistic perspective [4].

As a writer, I feel like we’re quite inclined to say, ‘Well no, of course you have to talk about things “properly” otherwise how else are people going to capture it in their minds?’. We’re very inclined to defend certain archaic things and ways of using language, but we have to remember those practices are what keep certain people out of the room.Danielle Koku

Journalist Harry Ritchie dissected this notion that there is a ‘proper’ way to speak in his guest piece for The Guardian in 2013 titled: It's time to challenge the notion that there is only one way to speak English [61].

The modern study of language has shown that all native speakers are experts in their language. Almost all judgments about someone's language – the laziness of a glottal stop, the slowness of rural speech, the supposed ugliness of a particular urban accent – have no linguistic justification and reflect only the prejudice of the judger. However, very few people are aware of these basic findings.Harry Ritchie

An incredible amount of research and knowledge for these pieces came from interviews with Black & working-class people. All of whom could sharply contextualise the work they were doing with clarity and truth. A lot of the time I wondered what our media and clubbing landscape would look like if there were more people like DJ Jawzy of [20] or Lance Morgan [62], to tell stories of their community to a wider audience. It’s not a privilege to contextualise. It is discrimination and it is snobbery by outlets for the way they contextualise.

Given these arguments strangely find themselves circling round back to a discussion about resources and freelancer pay, I thought I’d highlight alternatives that also bring a number of advantages.

A more recent phenomenon has been journalist removed or journalist-lite pieces that just allow two or more artists to question each other on their own terms. Examples from the music press include Crack magazine’s conversation between Dean Blunt and GAIKA [63]. It created a comfortable environment for two Black artists to truly speak their mind. Without it we would not of got such an open dialogue as witnessed here:

All I know is that in certain places I’ve played, if I was in attendance, I’d still feel just as off-key as any black person in a white space does. So why would this feeling still exist even when I’m the person on stage? That just shouldn’t be the case at all. And why am I feeling like I’m having to justify the fact that what I’m doing [with Babyfather] is not a joke? Why is it funny I have a bodyguard? Do you know what I mean?Dean Blunt

Ryan Keeling noted how societal prejudices had seeped their way into Resident Advisor’s coverage and this potential ‘off-key’ ‘white space’ factor when he considered the office where he once worked.

Needless to say, what ended up happening instead is that the magazine took shape over the years and came to blindly mirror the systems of oppression that are dominant in the society it existed within.

At root, even if the magazine's audience were aware that house and techno came from Black communities, this wasn't necessarily directly talked about, and the lens on this truth was often that of white European journalists. (My mind drifts to what it would have been like for some of the music's pioneers to arrive at an RA office for an interview and see an overwhelmingly white staff.)Ryan Keeling

Other prominent examples include The Guardian’s “X meets Y” series [64] which had Dave and Marcus Rashford discussing Black excellence with each other [65] or Variety’s video series ‘Actors on Actors’ [66] which is so charming and sincere you almost forget its participants are being prodded by their PR agents to remember they’re on a promo cycle for their latest film.

Comparison of how the data looks when ordered by either RoI or UK Participation

Most importantly these are great opportunities to use the social capital and reach of a much larger talent to highlight a smaller one and to talk about music and its creators outside the paradigm created by release windows.

Few editors ever think this about their output - but a majority of dance music coverage is surface level promotion anyway, so just let the artists do it themselves in the ways they want to and in a space they feel comfortable doing so. If Black artists do not respect or trust your outlet - and why would they at this point - then remove your voice and ‘tainted brush’ from any coverage of them as much as possible.

Some of the most effective points made in these two letters have come from the voices of Black and working class people just telling their truth to other artists that would listen without judgement or an angle and narrative in mind.

Data Informed Editorial

Almost all of the research that went into finding names on the list did not come from a previous knowledge of the scene. In 2016 when I started researching, I did not even know deep tech existed and the majority of my knowledge was filled by excellent retrospective pieces in the Guardian, Red Bull, all by new writers who wanted the story told properly.

The rest of my knowledge came from manually scouring through Resident Advisor’s excellent database of music events history. DJs, when properly tagged, can be linked to every event they’ve played and basic information, such as which other DJs they played most with, also show up. Through this manual digging and the help of ready-made connections, anyone can build up a picture of what might be happening on the ground. Without reading or hearing a single interview you can identify collectives and trends. The story of DJ S and the rapid growth of his House of Silk [67] night would be evident to any one tracking the increasing capacity size of the venues that he moved it to over time. The cross pollinations of DJs playing at multiple events like Lee B3 Edwards, Lance Morgan, Steven Cee and Shenin Amara, would indicate the forming of a group of DJs that appreciated a similar sound. This can all be gathered without looking at the ticket sales once.

From probing ex-RA technical workers, it doesn’t seem like any of this data was being used to inform coverage.

I reached out to a researcher engineer at a leading AI lab to get their thoughts on the viability and effectiveness of data analysis to find these connections.

There are definitely algorithms for this and you're totally on the right track. There is research on literally "social network analysis", identifying cliques (eg a bunch of djs that all play on lineups with each other, but rarely with anyone outside their group) which sounds like exactly the right thing… …I'm fairly sure you could do something nice based on identifying new scenes, if the database is complete enough. (how many emerging scenes don't use RA?)… the pure identification of new crews playing a lot with each other, I'm very confident that something could be done.Research Engineer

When asked about the viability and cost, given that ‘chronic lack of resources’ is a constant complaint among outlet heads no matter the weather, it looks positive.

It’ll vary a lot based on the method… …for algorithms you can often say how long they will take to run, in terms of something about input data size. Eg finding the largest number in a list takes time proportional to the length of the list, we would say "O(N)". If you want to sort an entire list then that needs more work so the best you can do is O(N log(N)). It gets bad when you start getting to things that are O(N2) or O(N3) - some algorithms will be like that and I think that could be the case for some clustering /network discovery things. O(N3) means you will probably not be able to run it on every club night in their database, as it will be too expensive to run. Obviously, there will be algorithms designed for very large data and are fast enough, in general they might give you less definite information than stuff which is designed to run on smaller data.

Basically "it depends" but I'm pretty sure it would be possible to do a fair amount of interesting stuff either with a normal desktop pc, or at most with a little bit of cloud compute.Research Engineer

Social Network Analysis as defined by Wikipedia is [68]:

…the process of investigating social structures through the use of networks and graph theory. It characterizes networked structures in terms of nodes (individual actors, people, or things within the network) and the ties, edges, or links (relationships or interactions) that connect them.Wikipedia

There are dozens of free and open source packages for building pictures of and analysing complex social networks [69] [70] [71] [72].

Social Network Analysis is such a pervasive tool in industry that in 2016 the notoriously racist UK Home Office [73] published an easy to read ‘How to guide’ in 2016 [74] albeit from and angle that was about identifying gang activity.

Snippet from the UK Home Office guide on Social Network Analysis, used for gangs
Just swap Assaults, Intimidates & Kills with Promotes, Performs & Produces.

Resident Advisor may have ended the yearly DJ poll [75], but an annual rundown of trends in dance music as driven by data could lead to much greater insights. Questions that would have been difficult to answer about the state of underground music before, could become readily available. What are the promoter trends within certain scenes? Which clubs have the most/least diverse bookings? Which promoters grew the fastest and with what line ups? Which clubs stopped listing event activity in the lead up to fabrics closure? Most relevant to this piece, it would clearly show the development of new social clusters that have historically been the precursor to new underground sounds developing. It can even be used to identify ‘structural holes’ or rather [76]:

an absence of ties between the actors. Structural holes can be a source of inequality amongst actors, as they are associated with positional advantage or disadvantage [77]

Data without context is at best meaningless and at worst can lead to incorrect actions being taken from signals the data pulls. It will never replace journalists reaching out to people and conducting more hands-on research, but that’s not the intent of data driven analysis. It creates leads and enhances the investigations of staff writers using information that is already sitting on Resident Advisor’s doorstep. If combined with an analysis of their own coverage, outlets could use it to assess their performance in similar ways that I have.

Of course, as with the proposal of an Independent Complaints Commission it would require a document as long as this one to transparently outline its use cases, profile ownership, permissions, fraud detection and assurance of fundamental ethics. The data and insights should never be sold or presented without first being sufficiently anonymised to prevent ego boosting, inflated fees and lazy but cash rich promoters from picking the same artists. All the problems that the RA poll originally brought [75] and the DJ Mag polls continue to perpetuate. Everything should be done prevent its use being undermined as anything but a force of good for fair and accurate reporting on scenes, potentially across the globe.

The use cases outlined here are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible. More interactive artist and promoter profiles; features using limited data sets to let readers explore connections to relevant topics; It could even create a whole new features category, one centred around pairing journalists with data analysis to deliver insights on industry wide topics and trends.

It’s another proposal that when combined with the eyes of a diverse editorial team, prevents blind spots like the ones outlined in these letters from happening again. It’s a system that allows coverage to be dictated by the communities on the ground, and arms journalists with solid data driven foundations to draw stories from. It could be the key to moving to coverage that finally responds to trends instead of clumsily and unintentionally setting them.


Through the results and subsequent analysis of the communities affected, we have ample evidence showing the distortions that communication agencies and lazy coverage bring to the ground truth of scenes. All of those proposals have to be taken as a whole to prevent these distortions from continuing. From directly removing influence of professionalised nepotism; getting writers to flag obvious nepotism within their ranks; broadening the definitions of ‘proper’ language to tackle class prejudice; using a diverse editorial team and technology to more appropriately cover underground scenes on a global scale; to creating new, data driven ways of assessing performance and staying informed of the latest developments in music.

I encourage the top UK outlets to join together on a unified approach to editorial guidelines, standards of conduct and most importantly the creation of new systems that increase fairness and accuracy in reporting. This goes beyond advertising revenue and clicks, it is about working together to regain the trust of communities you ignored in the long term. It is in the benefit of all of you to be on the same page on this issue and hold each other accountable because lip service alone will not convince anyone that things are getting better.


Your Feedback

Thank you to everyone who messaged me with their feedback on the first piece. It was inspiring to see just how far the piece spread and what sort of conversations it sparked. Here is a basic rundown of a few of them.

Some industry people felt because of its ubiquity it feels like a new base level of understanding about the issues of race, bias and classism has been set on which all other conversations going forward will draw from. To paraphrase a well-known UK artist:

Conversations about what to do to tackle these issues are going to be a lot shorter now because of this piece.

Artists from creative industries outside of music are using the piece to start a conversation about black erasure and its relationship between the press in their own industry.

Perhaps my most favourite feedback was from previously Resident Advisor-informed ravers who, through accidental circumstances, ended up in one of these deep tech day parties. Inside they found an entire world they had been missing, a place they thought was lost to rave history where people of all backgrounds and sexualities really were dancing and mixing together like the stories of old.

People from all over the world, whose only involvement with music was just as readers of Resident Advisor took time to self-reflect on the influence it had on their tastes. They felt like they had been lied to about what was really happening in the UK and in many ways they were.

Some of the biggest artists in Techno, all of which have benefited from the press' long standing biases, reflected on previous coverage with a new perspective. Once proud of their covers or feature articles, they had become tainted achievements.

UK artist Facta who runs the Wisdom Teeth label [78] did an excellent job of distilling this feeling [79].

As much as I might have thought I was able to engage with big institutions (press, festivals, labels) in a reasonably critical way, this completely lays bare just how much we've allowed our listening habits to be shaped by the opinions of a very limited set of people. As a producer and label owner I'd be totally lying if I said it didn't matter to me whether the press rates or recognises what we do, and it's embarrassing. The amount of artists who just get missed and ignored as a result is soul destroying.Facta

There were many, usually Black voices, that said that they had wanted to speak out but were afraid. Usually if you have a complaint about the industry it is because you have witnessed it first-hand as an artist whose livelihood or career potential is directly tied to the exposure those outlets can bring. Speaking out could spell shadow banning or even putting fellow artists at risk [80].

Lastly there were a few messages from white, internationally recognised DJs and producers thanking me for the piece. Tying it into their personal complaints specifically about Resident Advisor’s coverage of them, pointing out times where either it misrepresented them or that negative reviews of their releases were unhelpful. It reveals an intense level of projection [81] in their reading of a piece largely about the ignorance around Black & working-class communities. I hope this clears up what these letters are specifically addressing and provides some much-needed perspective on their own careers.


The most disappointing response in my inbox has come mostly from journalists and writers within dance music. They offered zero introspection on how their role or previous failings may have contributed to our current predicament. Instead, they either sought a quote, hoping to gain a scoop by centralising the writer rather than the content and its message. Or in an act of sacrificial self-awareness, pointing to a higher power or structure to blame. Asking, why in my already lengthy and dense piece on the music press, didn’t I give up more free labour to talk about capitalism’s role in all of this?


I felt like ‘A Letter to RA’ sat comfortably as a companion piece to a more general critique of capitalist systems [82], profit motive [83] and exploitation [84]. But if these journalists agreed with that sentiment, I don’t think they would have expressed such frustration. Too often the observation is used as a cop out for those unwilling to take responsibility, or as justifications for bad actions/inaction.

The idea that journalists are not being paid enough to conduct thorough investigations and look beyond their inbox is often brought up. Last I checked, Skype calls, DMing and google search were all free and both quicker and cheaper than setting up actual meetings. I also can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen journalists leveraging their position in the press to attend events to see their favourite artists for free. Surely that could be classified as a use of outlet resources? They could be using the same leverage to attend unacknowledged spaces. I guess what they do on their own clock is their choice. But it seems odd to pay people so fundamentally disinterested in discovering new music.

At no point in Ryan Keeling’s email to me did he come close to blaming a lack of resources or ‘platform capitalism’. Perhaps he had forgotten, so I asked in a follow up email if he felt at any point in time that a lack of capital or resources could be reasonably blamed for the failings he had previously outlined.

I can't speak to any other magazine's situation, as RA had/has quite a distinct business model, but I think overall it was a lack of awareness rather than capital or resources that created problems.Ryan Keeling

The answer to the question: “Why did this failure occur?” Is always some variation of “We didn’t have the resources.” Never “We didn’t use the resources we did have, effectively.” A realisation Ryan Keeling came to in the wake of the letter.

For me, one of the most important failings comes from a magazine not asking itself incredibly basic questions: "Who are we trying to reach? Are we reaching them? What are we intending to cover? How will we cover it? Who will cover it? Why are these journalists best placed to cover it? Who is our team? What's their background and perspective? How does this relate to our overall aims?"

As an example, if we really simplify what RA does and say that it's a magazine dedicated to covering global house and techno, we can then build from the ground up saying, "OK, where does house and techno come from? How can we best represent these scenes? Are we covering the full scope of house and techno? Do we have a staff that is representative of the house and techno scenes at large? Who is in charge here? What's going on in house and techno globally, and are we equipped to cover it?"Ryan Keeling

Mostly, what these arguments really boil down to is the conscious/unconscious belief that their majority white audience won’t engage with seeing Black faces on their pages; that if they cover more minorities, they will lose revenue. It is an argument that fails to address the broader questions of why outlets spent so long coddling an audience that might not be receptive to Black voices in the first place. It shamelessly assumes that Black talent is not popular enough to draw hits. A question that is rarely asked when a new white artist is presented by a well-connected communication agency with a ready-made angle and press release. If journalists feel they are not being paid enough to rescind obvious acts of nepotism then the issue is not actually pay, it is bad journalism. Joaquin Phoenix addressed this sort of reasoning in his 2020 BAFTA speech [85]:

I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here, I think that the message we’re sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry, and in ways that we benefit from. I don’t think anyone wants a handout or preferential treatment… although, that’s what we give ourselves every year.Joaquin Phoenix

The Black and minority ethnic British DJs that went missing from the covers and feature headlines of UK press outlets were some of the most wildly popular and well-known DJs in the capital and beyond. Instead of seeking their audience as a new intake of readership and advertising revenue they snubbed them, too. I think many journalists also need to take a step back and consider why the piece, despite its length, density, and complexity, still resonated with people so viscerally. Maybe because for the first time it wasn’t written by a careerist pointing the finger the other way to, as Ed Gillett [56] likes to put it:

(a) complex mesh of obligations facing artists, journalists, PRs, promoters, agents and audiences…Ed Gillett

It is a fine answer for the readership of The Quietus, but I think Trench magazine [86] readers might be disappointed with such an obvious deflection from more tangible analysis.

At no point did ‘A Letter to RA’ even vaguely request that these institutions make less money. It encouraged outlets to pursue artists that it believes would drive traffic to their site as and when it desired, just without the involvement of communication agencies.

The argument will be made that there is an exchange lost. Access to lucrative and successful artists that drive traffic will be withheld. But I don’t see why any artist, if directly approached by a journalist that could give them coverage on a site with 30 million views per annum would ever say no.A Letter to RA

If you were to draw out that ‘complex mesh of obligations’ I have a feeling most of the lines would lead to back to the press. The only people who seem unwilling to make that conclusion are the people who know that line ends squarely at their feet.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Chandler Shortlidge who pointed the finger so firmly at ‘platform capitalism’ is also the Editor-in-Chief of Beatportal, an outlet that has – at the time of writing - made zero concrete commitments or ‘pledges’ on ways it hopes to improve its coverage of minority voices and Black music scenes in the long term.

It should be noted that the two print outlets that are arguably most held hostage by their capitalist obligations, achieved much ‘better’ results than the ones that had less overt obligations.

Without getting too dramatic I would like to remind these journalists that the excuse of monetary circumstance has been used to justify the mistreatment of Black people for centuries [87] [88].

Shawn Reynaldo’s latest newsletter [60] is a rehash of all the usual talking points around resources and funds for minority voices. For just a moment though he considers the idea that perhaps some white journalists will have to step down to make room for Black and minority ethnics ones. He doesn’t consider it for long before remembering that he ‘probably’ doesn’t value Black lives and voices as equally as white ones.

Some folks have suggested that real systemic change will require that some white people (i.e. staff writers and editors) lose their jobs, and that’s probably true, but it’s hard to justify laying anyone off in the middle of a pandemic.Shawn Reynaldo

Firing already furloughed white staff in the middle of a pandemic is ‘hard to justify’; Deferring payment and platform to members of a community that don’t have the privilege of a job in the music press to begin with isn’t. The value proposition changes mid argument. It is too expensive to hire Black writers, it is too costly to fire white ones. If this were a genuine argument around resources then a straight swap would not be an issue, neither would firing anybody regardless of circumstance. But it isn’t actually about resources, it’s about sustaining a status quo they directly benefit from by amplifying a tired, historically racist excuse that claims everyone’s hands are tied so we all better put up with it, just for a little longer.

If these writers are so moved and impassioned by the monetary struggle of the institutions that pay them, perhaps they should remove themselves from that burden of resource.

With regards to the notion that the piece misrepresented people who ‘deserve better’ - which appears to undermine the real victims at the core of the letter who definitely do ‘deserve better’. - at no point have I felt it should be the role of these pieces to indulge and convince individual journalists that they need to change the way they cover dance music to be more inclusive. The goal is for systemic change at the top so that these journalists are not called upon for their opinions in the first place.

In the first letter I highlighted a factor that effects all of us:

Despite their often quite close physical proximity in London, they are worlds apart, and due to the nature of privilege, often blind to each other’s existence and experiences.A Letter to RA

It is no coincidence that the opinions of these white journalists are so fundamentally different from Black ones [4]. The nature of privilege itself, regardless if you feel you have it or not, is blinding. Our only ways out are through integration and education - that process, starts with introspection.

I’ll let Ryan Keeling finish this section off as a fitting lead into the next.

Regarding BIPOC staff, it seems vital to stress that new hirings should not seen as white companies simply covering themselves or them putting "measures" in place to prevent fuck-ups based in white privilege or ignorance. New staff members should be welcomed for unique contributions, and, as you said, bring a different perspective. The very foundations of magazines should begin to shift so that the site's output is truly representative of a multicultural experience. Needless to say, changes at the top of companies would help greatly in making this shift.Ryan Keeling


Ryan Keeling's Response

📄 Ryan Keeling's full response to 'A Letter to RA'

Of all the responses I received from media and press people, the email from the ex-editor of Resident Advisor, who’s responsibility for the situation RA finds itself in partially lies, was the most remarkable. Its sincerity, level of introspection and depth of response - even going out of his way to notify me on additional failings I missed - shows someone who not only read but heard.

There was a lot of cynicism surrounding the posting of the black square on Instagram [89], and rightly so. But whatever you think about social media activism and solidarity it can, at the very least, be used as measure of engagement. Forbes cited 28 million people [90] around the world had posted it, an unprecedented unification of messaging.

As DJ Paulette put in a recent interview [91]:

My hope is twofold: that people start to listen to us, and look at themselves as part of the problem. Racism isn’t about good and bad people. It’s about actions within a system, and both have to change.

If the previous Editor in Chief of the largest underground electronic music outlet can change their ideas so profoundly about what it might take to be in that position again, then there is hope after all.

Change is coming.


By gathering and scrutinising around 1,200 data points on Black and working class underground dance music artists in London – the scale of ignorance inside the music press has been revealed; How communities navigate around systems of structural racism; how communication agencies subvert those communities and distort ground truth; how even when white artists try to signal Black talent it so often falls on deaf ears; how white media figures deflect responsibility; how prejudice around language leads to gatekeeping and lastly the fallacy of minority hope.

In the proposals sections we looked at ways to allow Black and working class voices to be elevated on their own terms and in ways they could truly express themselves; and how outlets could use Social Network Analysis in combination with a roster of diverse journalists to increase the coverage of their reporting, fix blind spots and even deliver a new kind of reporting entirely.

Specifically addressing the results and the coverage of the deep tech scene and its Black and working class participants: I cannot speak on behalf of the community about what a suitable apology and potential reparations would look like, but I sincerely hope that all outlets mentioned here will reach out to them and offer up something in the wake of these results.

As there continue to be more calls for “alternative systems” by those in the white middle-class feedback loops of the music press, it would be worth looking to the people they snubbed for so long, communities who had no choice but to find alternatives - being shut off from the systems its participants have only recently recognised the weaknesses of.

Do Better Than Better

Outlets need to begin changing the lens through which they view this inevitable transition. The apologies and endless roll out of promises to ‘do better’ set a patronisingly low bar and gives the impression that established voices within are dragging their feet on a critical issue that will not be allowed to pass.

Take the lead and flip the rhetoric around from vague appeasement to striving for a vision that benefits everybody. Set the bar for concrete, transparent journalistic standards of practice so high that it shames all other institutions. Tackling professionalised nepotism; improving minority representation; transparency in process and mistakes; more Black and working class voices; coverage of non-English speaking artists and scenes; more creative and engaging coverage catering to a wider more inclusive audience; utilising new technology to replace older broken systems; building a readership that can honestly trust you to report on electronic music fairly and accurately to the best of your ability.

It will take years to earn that trust. But for the sake of everyone. Do it with a gritted sense of determination.


I hope I never have to sit down and write a long form letter to the heads of the UK music outlets ever again as I would greatly like to get back to what I was doing before.

I am a strong proponent that structural change, usually lead by pressure from the ground, is the most effective way for positive changes to affect the widest audience. But I am not averse to the ideals of personal responsibility in these matters either.

I realise there is now an uncomfortable relationship between myself and the press. Editors are well aware of the debt they owe me for my labour and writers are worried at the drop of a webpage I could ‘Andrew Ryce’ them into irrelevance.

But where privilege and social capital is gained, privilege and social capital can be shared. Going forward I will be self-publishing where possible and aside from special circumstances outside of music, ensuring that paid communication agencies are left out of any arrangements I have with label releases. I realise that won’t mean much given the middle class feedback loop I’m now a part of and have access to, but in an effort to open that loop I’ll be promoting the work of artists from a marginalised community in every promo release I send out to that circle - with the stipulation to press that if you want to cover me, you must at least cover them. I hope by now I have earned your trust that I will be able to research and dig to find artists and communities well outside my sphere of friends and their tastes. I encourage any other artist that has the sense to realise that they too might be part of this feedback loop to do the same.

I’ll also be continuing my pre-Covid methods of increasing the number of pieces about marginalised communities in the press by acting as a reliable source of information [92], sending nudges and winks to members of the press to check out parties and collectives that remain unacknowledged.

Both those methods will continue until the systems suggested have been put in place by UK outlets to promote fairness and accuracy in reporting and coverage.

I will not be partaking in any panels, accepting invites to conferences, or speaking to other outlets about these letters. If you want to pay someone for their voice and insight, pay the Black artists and writers that have been saying what I have forever. It should not matter how something is said if it is right.

Writing about the knowledge I’ve gathered on and off over the past 3 years has provided no catharsis. Of all the parts that make up this now mammoth project, this has been the section that has been the most upsetting. Deep diving into the profiles of so many artists and DJs, checking their mixes or their music to correctly categorise them, seeing the contributions each one of them made to a scene they loved only to be ignored, profile, after profile, after profile. Seeing swathes of event listings they participated in for sometimes more than a decade, adding them to the list knowing what the results most likely would read. I am so sorry to all of them that I did not speak out sooner.

I sincerely hope that the emotional and physical labour that went into these letters, sparks an equal amount of work to create a new system that transforms the way the press operates, from the top down.

Thank you for reading.