How important are “drop videos” to DJs?

Videos that capture the biggest moments of a DJ set have become a core part of DJ life. We spoke to industry figures to try to understand the positives and negatives of the trend.

It’s likely that you’ve noticed debates swirling around, both online and IRL, about the role of social media in club music, and in particular the impact of “drop videos.”   

These videos aim to capture the biggest moments of a set, with the crowd at maximum excitement, and are shared on the artist’s profile. It’s been suggested that focussing so heavily on these big moments might be altering the nature of dance floor experiences, potentially even shaping the music that’s played at events. Along with this, the demand for skilled videographers and social media managers is ever growing. But whatever your thoughts here, drop videos are arguably now a fundamental feature of DJ culture.

Unsurprisingly, the idea of “social media as your CV” isn’t well received by all. Many DJs have shared their dismay over the influence of social media as a tool for music discovery, bookings and marketing. This phenomenon has, in their minds, impacted upon the artistry of their craft.

With all of this in mind, we decided to survey the situation, considering both sides of the debate. We spoke to a range of industry figures, from managers, to publicists, to A&Rs, as we attempted to make sense of what now feels like a core part of everyday DJ life.


Before we look at the current landscape, let’s explore the early days of social media in club settings. Beginning in the 2010s, live videos and recordings allowed the club experience to translate better onto social media, while offering punters an insight into what goes on behind the curtain.

Scott Paterson, founder and director of Ecce artist management, and previously of fabric, was an early adopter of Facebook Live, using it during his work behind the scenes of the UK artist Scuba’s residency at the London club XOYO in 2016. 

“We used to get a Gorilla Clip and put it behind the booth and go on Facebook Live,” Scott said. “Scuba maybe had 150,000 people on his Facebook and so when we put that out, people were like, ‘What’s this?’, and then realised it was live from the club. It was literally just via my iPhone on a Gorilla Clip up there streaming on the page. You’d see comments and engagement, and for 45 minutes I could go and have fun and come back.”

“I was the first person to be doing social media for Defected at events,” said Thomas Coxhead, director of Digital and Media at Defected Records, referring to the label’s debut festival in Croatia in 2016. “I was walking around on my phone on my own doing Facebook Lives because it had just launched and that was the first time where I felt like it was becoming a thing, filming those DJs and getting those ‘moments’, so to speak.”


Fast forward to today, and it feels like almost every artist, label and brand exists in some capacity on social media. “For us as a label at Defected, the ‘end goal’ of posting videos of DJs playing records is, for the most part, to get people to go and listen to those songs, whether that’s our radio show, Spotify, Beatport or wherever they’re going to consume it,” Thomas said. “Our sole purpose as a record label still is to use those moments to drive people to go and listen to the record, which I think is really important. Whereas I think a lot of other peoplewhether you’re an events brand, promoter or DJ who doesn’t really make musicI don’t really know what the purpose is other than to get engagement.”

Mostly the motivation for artists posting on social media is exactly that: the all-important engagement. “Social media content in general, where you are capturing the gigs you are attending or playing at, is good for promoting yourself and the party,” said Chanel Kadir, director of Dawn Creative Agency. 

“As a publicist, you’re working on a lot of releases and looking for different avenues of exposure and ways to get a release out there,” said Chris Graham of Listen Up promotions. “In terms of drop videos especially, it’s a chance to get a big moment of a track out there. Someone on Instagram is looking at a Reel and goes, ‘Oh that track sounds great, I’d love to see it live, or get it on Beatport.’”

With greater engagement, then, comes a greater likelihood of artist discovery. This isn’t necessarily only from potential audiences, or music consumers, but also from various figures in the industry. “Previously being a producer at Radio 1 and looking out for new artists and new music, social media was a massive tool for discovery for us,” said Sam Hutt, now label manager at Three Six Zero Recordings. “Whether that was seeing how the record works on the dance floor and then messaging the artist and chasing down the record, or being sent a record and not being sure on it but the social media video is like, ‘OK, it is working, I wasn’t there at the event but there’s a good reason why we can play this.’ That then feeds into what I do now; working at a label as an A&R, you can’t attend every single event but social media feels like you’ve been to every event come Sunday evening, Monday morning.

“This probably sums it up: as an A&R now, you’ve got to be checking social media across the weekend to see what the big moments have been, whether that’s at Warehouse Project, Drumsheds, etc… you can’t be at everything, but social media allows you to be. It’s such an important discovery tool.”

Vital to the success of these videos is capturing just the right moment. This might involve someone recording a minute or two of each track a DJ plays in order to get that perfect 15-to-30 second shot. Or it could mean relying on the footage captured by excited fans.

“I like more fan-based videos where punters are sending them in and you can message them thanking them and ask if they can send it over to use,” said Scott. “If it’s got a new record in it you can put it in a content folder for that track, if it’s the right quality. It’s more real, a bit more honest. I’m not that keen on the phones [at events] but at the same time I’m trying to get that moment, that bit of magic. You’re trying to get that essence of the record.”

The people we spoke to had conflicting views on the role of drop videos. Having to focus so heavily on them in their respective job roles can be frustrating. Sam said that having conversations with artists to ensure they “capture those moments within sets” is something he dislikes. But they also recognised the increasing prominence of social media as a tool for artist promotion, with Chanel and Scott also mentioning the importance of other DJs playing the releases they’re working on as well. This might not necessarily be a ‘drop’—but the seal of approval from peers can cement the record’s status.

“If you’ve got your Boiler Room play… club videos, and fan videos, it gives the record a bit more weight and a lot more content if you’re building up to a release,” said Scott. “When you’re getting to three weeks, two weeks, then when it gets to release day, it feels like there is a proper hype and you’re kicking yourself up the ladder a bit, whatever your motivation is – whether that’s Beatport sales, or directing people to Bandcamp. If we get a drop video that goes properly viral then that’s obviously a huge win for the artist, label and team. But the main thing is to have shop windows for our own audiences.”


As social media becomes thought of as the modern day CV for DJs and artists, sometimes to get those perfect clips the humble iPhone just won’t cut it. “I’ve personally seen a rise in artists bringing a videographer or social media person to their shows with them to capture these moments,” said Chanel, with Thomas, Sam and Scott saying something similar. “I can understand to a certain extent why, especially for these bigger festival shows, but I think it can end up influencing their set or what the audience will be looking for when going to these shows.”

Thomas referred to the video of Fisher and Chris Lake at Hollywood Boulevard (above), which he recently shared on Defected’s Instagram, as an example of artists going to ever greater lengths to produce attention-grabbing videos. “You’ve got drones now flying up to the DJ’s face and they’re pointing at the camera and it’s zooming out when the drop drops,” he said. “It’s gone from filming on a phone to people now trying to be as creative as possible to share the same moment but in a different way. It’s like everyone’s trying to outdo each other.”

“It’s so easy to get caught up in ‘playing the game’ and seeing what works in terms of bookings and promotions, where other people who are breaking through and looking to reach a bigger audience would see these ‘drop videos’ as an easy or effective way of building your audience—but you’ll end up losing yourself and your artistry in the process,” said Chanel.

“I obviously can’t speak on behalf of the DJs, but I do wonder when I see these videos if they have curated their entire set around these ‘big moments’ that can be captured for socials. There’s a lot of noise around it at the moment but I hope that people will realise that staying true to who you are and sticking to it will be better off in the long run than relying on hype content.” 

“Is taking the dance floor on a journey enough now? It probably isn’t, and that’s a shame,” Sam said. “Social media probably does take away from artistry because you’re trying to frame what you do into a 30-second video, which is why you end up with people playing edits and these big moments —they’re as much for the dance floor itself as social media.”


Discussion surrounding the role of social media content in the career of a DJ is abundant. Between the noise of these videos, as you scroll down Instagram, or meander through X, you might have come across DJs like Radio Slave, who recently shared a post on Instagram quoting the artist Gretchen Peters. He said her observation that a pressure for new content is “increasing the noise and exhausting the artists” “hit the nail on the head.” Fellow DJs like Atjazz, Cinthie and Dustin Zahn all chimed in with their support.

Earlier this year on my podcast, Belta, Ewan McVicar identified the frustrating tension that exists as an artist: “The sad thing is, [social media] fucking works, it does. When you post that video it just takes one, you know what I mean? The world we live in, TikTok and that, I hate it. I hate social media, I hate it all. But you have to do it, man, you have to if you wanna get anywhere.”

Echoing this was the German DJ Vera. She took to her Instagram to comment on the state of play, epitomising the growing sense that to be successful and secure DJ bookings social media is now essential. The post went viral, with support coming from DJs like Steffi, OM Unit and Mathew Jonson. “Social media hype directly affects how much work you have these days,” she wrote. “It’s less and less the artistic quality you deliver, it’s the popularity. There is a trend of posting ‘hand in the air videos’ resulting in decreasing popularity among DJs that have a different approach, while others become famous because of it. I personally feel this send[s] the wrong message, it forces artists to adapt to this development and it changes the way people think of what is a ‘good DJ set’. Our art is about LISTENING not about watching… How can a 10 sec video represent ANYTHING really? It is easy to make people scream and raise their hands…but it’s an art to take them on a journey and let the music unfold.”

Thomas offered another aspect of the drop videos trend that has incredibly concerned him. “One thing that really bothers me—and I keep talking about it because I think it’s really important—is the difference in the reaction to men and women DJs on these sort of videos,” said Thomas. “It’s something people need to keep talking about because it still happens. I saw Hannah Wants posted the other day that someone commented on her Mixmag Lab ‘not bad for a girl’, or something like that. Say I posted a video on Defected of Folamour playing the exact same record and performing or dancing the exact same way as Jayda G, the reaction that she’d get compared to him would be really bad. 

“Sam Divine gets it worse than anyone, and me and her sit there and delete and block. A lot of people in comments usually are middle-aged men, and they can have an opinion that is not welcome in dance music.”

What the audience expects

So how does rapid social media success translate “on the ground” at actual events? 

“It does come down to the crowd and maybe the expectations around the artist,” said Sam. “The fact that certain artists can sell out certain venues and the reason for their boom is fast growth on social media, means they can sell tickets. That [type of] crowd is expecting something—those big familiar moments, big drops from the outset—a DJ just going for it rather than it being a journey.” 

These familiar moments are often associated with edits of huge mainstream songs. The increasing popularity of edits has developed across multiple scenes and genres, which itself has sparked plenty of debate. 

“I feel like there’s a culture where a DJ might bring in a Beyoncé edit and everyone kinda knows the track from years ago, so having their own spin on it creates a bigger moment in sets,” said Chris. “When rave heads go to a rave they might be really interested in the artist, in the journey and appreciate their own music, but not everyone is a devout listener and are there to just have a good time at a party. If they know that Beyoncé edit then it’s only going to be a better reaction for the DJ.”

Edits aside, those “rave heads” certainly still exist. “I think those more ‘headsy’ or just more—it’s not even headsy, more ‘forgiving’ crowds—they want to lock in, they want to be taken on a journey, and I do think those crowds absolutely do still exist,” said Sam. 

After Covid, people may have returned to dance floors to find new dynamics in play, with changes in audiences, splits in attitudes between generations, and the broader financial situation all becoming factors.

“There was obviously a two-to-three year pause in people going to clubs and when we returned, there was a massive shift in the audience and the way people interacted within those spaces,” said Chanel. “A lot of these people are relying on social media for their information and in turn have been looking at these drop videos as influence for DJs to follow or nights to attend.”

“Maybe more people are going to bigger venues and bigger festivals and not supporting local clubs as much because they want to go and see certain DJs or a certain type of set now, which is different to back in the day,” Tom said. 

“With the cost of living people are choosing the events they go to a lot more, so they want to save themselves and be like, ‘You know what? I paid all this money and wanna have a great time so let’s capture some amazing memories’. A big drop could be a moment for that,” said Chris. “Tickets for shows are so expensive right now that maybe the audience want to show off where they are, show their friends that they’re having a good time. Maybe capturing the drops and the best moment possible is only going to be done more so.”

“It’s the most popular thing on social media these days. It’s cool to be at an event, it’s cool to be at a festival, Printworks, Drumsheds or Warehouse Project,” said Thomas. “You sometimes go on Instagram or TikTok and all you see is just people at events, but everyone tells you events aren’t selling well. There’s a bit of a disconnect between what’s actually going on and what people are showing on social media, in my opinion.”

Could we see a generational gap open up? There might be a continued expansion of drop videos as social media’s formats progress, or we may see a total rejection of the trend as the winds of taste blow in a different direction. The joke of “waiting for the drop” seems to be more prolific, for example —see this video of Nina Kraviz at Tomorrowland 2023 and its accompanying comments.

Instead, and as alluded to by many of those we spoke to, it could be that we see different scenes, genres and crowds align with different mentalities. There may be a divide between the more casual consumer, who rely on drop videos and social media to decide on their next event, and the music nerds who hate the thought of social media disrupting the purity of music in any shape or form. Club music is not, and has never been, one homogenous mass, after all.

Text: Niamh Ingram