On June 5, 2019 well known dance music vocalist Matthew Koma took to Twitter to address questions about the state of his working relationship with his long time collaborator Anton Zaslavski aka Zedd. In his tweets Koma claimed that Zedd exhibited “toxic” behavior behind the scenes, and that he utilized unethical business tactics and also revealed information that calls into question the Grammy award-winning producer’s level of involvement in the production process of some of his biggest tracks. If Koma’s allegations are legitimate, they could have a devastating impact on Zedd’s reputation. At the same time, any record label with an artist as commercially successful as Zedd may be more willing to overlook such controversies in order to protect their investment in his reputation and the success of his career.
Matthew Koma’s tweets would suggest that one of the reasons that their working relationship collapsed due to Zedd’s failure to properly acknowledge the contributions Matthew Koma made to Zedd’s biggest songs. Koma claims that he wrote the topline lyrics and melodies on Zedd’s song “Clarity”, And that Zedd knowingly misrepresented the extent of his involvement in the track’s production to the public. These allegations stand in stark contrast to Zedd’s public persona of a quiet, humble, and talented producer/DJ who respects his collaborators and loves his fans. But what happens when the curtain is pulled back and a DJ we all thought we knew turns out to be a completely different person?
Music Industry Controversy: from Unsettling to Unacceptable
Over the years, we’ve seen multiple examples of DJs whose careers have taken a hit when their seemingly genuine public image turns out to be a facade, carefully constructed to conceal who they truly are. No two DJ’s controversies are exactly alike and the details range from the disturbing to the outright absurd. Two of the most repulsive examples of controversies in the industry have to be Ten Walls’ exile after a homophobic Facebook rant that killed his career overnight, or Datsik being blacklisted by the bass music scene after sexual assault allegations were leveled against him by multiple women. These examples show that the industry doesn’t hold popular artists accountable for their actions unless like Datsik and Ten Walls the behavior in question is so egregious and universally condemned by the community the industry has no choice but to take action.
Unlike the previous examples, another controversy that arose when David Guetta rode a live horse into legendary Ibiza superclub Pacha dressed as a Native American. Both Guetta and Pacha faced some initial backlash for Guetta’s inappropriate wardrobe selection and their treatment of the horse, but after canceling a couple shows, issuing an apology and staying out of the headlines, the incident has seemingly been forgotten by the dance music community.
A few days after the initial exchange between Zedd and Koma, Zedd posted his side of the story. As far as the allegations against Zedd go,the public’s initial response was split with fans supporting Zedd whereas DJs and artists for the most part backing Koma. With the EDM community somewhat taking sides on the issue, it brings to light that bigger artists taking advantage of up and comers is something that will always be a problem in dance music.
Regardless of the outcome of the allegations, Zedd will likely make it out of this situation relatively unharmed unless Koma is able to provide concrete evidence that backs up his claims or the people he refers to in his tweets who have had similar experiences with Zedd’s alleged toxicity come forward and corroborate his story. It is too soon to say at this point whether or not Zedd’s career or his reputation will be negatively affected by this situation.
With the severity of Koma’s claims and how he chose to make them, he either has the evidence to back up his story, or if they turn out to be false in any capacity, Zedd’s camp could pursue some kind of legal action against Koma. Regardless of how this situation plays out we should look to this as an opportunity to discuss how the music industry actually works and how ravers and DJs can positively impact the way the industry conducts its business.