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Editorial

We Need to Talk About Clickbait: 21st Century Sensationalism

Okay clickbait is something we all do or have done as bloggers. Let's just be honest. It is like masturbation, we all do it, at the very least we have tried it, but at the end of the day it's not something we go around telling our friends and colleagues about in graphic detail. I am not sitting here typing this on a high horse saying that I am one of the rare few who has never employed questionable journalistic tactics in order to gain readers. I mean hell I remember the first time I figured out how well it worked. I had just started writing here at EDM Sauce, in fact I was still an intern at the time. I had written a few song reviews and interviews even. I was getting a huge rush from seeing other people and artists appreciating my work. I wanted nothing more than to see my articles find the hands of more readers.

A few months into my internship I wrote an article about Headhunterz's decision to depart from the hardstyle genre. I titled it something along the lines of ‘No One Expected Headhunterz To Do This'. Low and behold I watched my numbers explode on that article. I realized that the way I phrased the title of that article is the exact reason why so many people followed the link to read about it. They wanted to know the mystery posed by the title. So I decided that this was the way to get the readers I wanted.

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Before I go any further I want to explain the two different kinds of clickbait. In the above instance with Headhunterz lies one kind of clickbait. The kind that is not necessarily bad. This is when the title of the article actually lines up with the surprise waiting on the otherside. You see, nobody did expect Headhunterz to quit hardstyle, therefore this kind of clickbait while questionably ethical, is actually not the problem. What I did next in the story is the problem. I am of course talking about the kind of clickbait where the title of the article deceives the reader, tricks them into following the link promising something that it just does not deliver. It either trumps up what is on the other end, or outright lies. This is the epidemic that is destroying the legitimacy of so many blogs.

Any who I digress; what I did after seeing the success of the Headhunterz article was try to replicate the formula using a story that was not breaking News nor packed any kind of actual punch. It was a small little article about Avicii's Music Video for ‘Addicted To You”. If you have seen it, it is a pretty good little music video, captivating even, but profoundly special? No, not really at all. Well still I used a headline in order to make readers think otherwise. If I remember correctly it was something like, ‘You Have Not Seen Anything Like Avicii's New Music Video'. This was clickbait, I mean shit, this music video was a total ripoff of Bonnie and Clyde with a lesbian twist, almost everyone has seen at least one of two of those defining factors (especially if you have seen Thelma and Louise). It was on this article that I read the comments of angry people saying that title was misleading. It clicked for me. So from that point forward I left clickbait tactics behind and used straight forward titles on my articles. I have found that using my own experience and opinion has had more of a desired effect than sensational titles in helping boost my readership.

Clickbait is becoming a gigantic issue in the blogosphere. Recently I saw a couple, not one…but a few dance music blog use the title of something along the lines of, ‘You'll Never Guess Who Is Reuniting At Coachella in 2016'. Most people probably thought what I did as soon as I saw that title which was…DAFT PUNK, or I guess SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA, if you have worse taste. Now any sane and reasonable individual would assume that a blog catering to exclusively dance music would not report on Guns'N'Roses rumored reunion at Coachella. Well they would be wrong, because that is exactly what happened. Reading that article I felt entirely played, actually pissed off.

Another prime example is an article from another dance music blog titled, “Skrillex Finally Working With Artist We Were All Asking”. Again this title implies something pretty obvious. That Skrillex is in fact working with an artist we were all asking him to work with. It turned out being A$AP Ferg. A$AP FUCKING FERG. Nobody was begging for the collab. I am pretty sure even Skrillex isn't even that hype over it. To that blog's credit they did change the title of the article to be straight forward. Not until long after it had been shared well over a few thousand times though.

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We need to stop this. Clickbait is destroying the the dance music blog as we know it. A few years ago blogs were run out of the love of the scene and music. These days since dance music has exploded on an international scale these blogs have become a source of income and reputation in the industry. It is all about the numbers for some of these sites. What that means in laymen's terms is more social media shares means more readers which means more ad revenue.

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Then there is the ego side of it all as well. I did not use clickbait titles to gain ad revenue, that was for damn sure, I wasn't getting paid. I did it for the ego boost, that was really all. I loved seeing my article shared and read. But it was for all the wrong reasons. Somewhere along the way I learned how special it is to write an article with depth and weight or humor or about an artist or topic close to my heart and have it naturally make its way into virility. The bloggers I respect most do the same. The ones who are concerned about making a name for themselves through sensationalism rather than quality writing and original ideas are destroying our side of the industry, with one headline at a time.

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