Netherlands: A Production Line for Top DJs

14:05 Mar/18/2014

It is a well known fact that Netherlands is the motherland for some of the biggest DJs that have seen the light of day. It’s not happened by accident, that there’s a saying: it isn’t much if it isn’t Dutch. And of course it’s not exactly true, good music is produced and played all around the world. But Netherlands is considered by many the Mecca for the world’s dance music scene. At a population of 16,7 million, it’s one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It just so happens to be that the country’s inhabitants as well as guests really like and know how to party.

In this article we’ll take a look at DJ Rankings and see if there’s a reason for the dense population of Dutch DJs in the top of the top.

If we look at the top 100 DJs ranked in The Official Global DJ Rankings, we see that there’s 16 Dutch DJs, whereas they have only 354 ranked DJs overall. And that doesn’t sound too impressive. Until you look at the fact, that United Kingdom, with the world’s most versatile music scene, has 1188 DJs with 23 DJs in top 100. U.K only has 7 more DJs than Netherlands in the top 100.  United States - despite being the perfect place for a DJ/producer these days, having a whopping 2489 ranked DJs - has only 15 native DJs in the top 100.

But where it really gets interesting is at the cream of the crop. Netherlands stands at 2 DJs in the top 3 with Tiesto (#2) and Armin Van Buuren (#3). There’s also Afrojack (#8) in the top 10, to make it 3 DJs in the top 10. Ferry Corsten (#12), Dash Berlin (#13), Sander van Doorn (#14) and Fedde Le Grand (#20) are in the top 20 as well, so Netherlands has 7 DJs in the top 20. Most of these top DJs are active in trance and house genres.

3 DJs in top 10 and 7 DJs in top 20! Can you believe it? The Dutch have produced numerous superstar DJs over the last 20 years and they’ve got one of the most lucrative and inspiring dance music scene in the world. How come?

Eric Van Kleef, an experienced Dutch radio DJ explains in an interview: „It’s like the Dutch football team. We’re so good, because we have a good training program for young players. We were involved in the dance culture from the very beginning. So we have 15 to 20 years experience.“ That’s spot-on! Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular have been the desired party destination for the last decades. Trying to pinpoint the origins of trance music – the genre of Dutchmen like Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren – you have to consider Netherlands alongside Germany as the place. This is also why there’s such a ingrained tradition of music festivals making it an inspiring place to grow up in. Young DJ’s like Laidback Luke (#30) and Nicky Romero (#45) were definitely impacted by such legendary festivals like the Amsterdam Dance Event, Sensation or Armin van Buuren’s State of Trance. For example, the Amsterdam Dance Event isn’t only about partying but also workshops on DJing and music production. Over 1700 artists from around the world gather in Amsterdam for the biggest club festival in the world with over 200,000 clubbers expected to attend 300 performances in 5 days. This is one of the youth programs van Kleef had in mind.

Another thing Headhunterz (#74) has brought out is that the Dutch public is a critical bunch of listeners and ravers. If they get tired of some sounds or find it boring, they’ll let you know. So for Headhunterz this means constant pressure for innovating and perfecting his sound: “You constantly have to stimulate them with new sounds. This keeps me on my toes. It means I constantly have to innovate and if it works here, it usually works abroad as well.”

It seems that Netherlands has all the aspects to make a young DJ/producer thrive. With Amsterdam, the party capitol of Europe, there’s a legendary party culture as well as the know-how and the tradition of dance music. With an ideal soil for the cultivation of Dutch youth into skillful DJs, the spectacular numbers on DJ Rankings become more conceivable.

Listen to the club anthem and basis for countless remixes, cuts and mash-ups. Fedde Le Grand's 'Put your hands up for Detroit'

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