The electronic dance music industry is changing. It’s been rapidly evolving and shifting since it’s meteoric rise into the mainstream media five years ago. There are numerous factors that are unfolding currently that will determine the direction this industry heads. One being the saturated market for electronic dance music festivals. Sure the massive festivals that are household names like Ultra, EDC Las Vegas and Tomorrowland will be around for a while. Yet the smaller ones that have started to pop up over the past few years most likely won’t last. Not because people aren’t interested, but due to profitability problems. It becomes understandable when you see the massive booking fees the headliners are asking for, most being upwards of $250,000 for an hour time slot. The electronic dance community can easily fix this problem. We’re willing to shell out $300+ for festival tickets to see our favorite artists so the demand is there. The solution to this problem will be the festival organizers managing their money better. Does this mean the DJ’s might have to get less money? Probably. It’s going to take some creativity from the organizers to continue to create innovative experiences at their festivals while keeping their customers and performers happy.
The boundaries of genres are being pushed to the limit by the artists which is shifting the direction of the dance music industry. What was heard on the fringe stages of music festivals two years ago is now constantly blaring out of the speakers on the main stage. A prime example of this has been the slow death of progressive house and the rise of deep house. @EDMSNOB, the marketing chief of Ultra Music Festival sent out these tweets two years ago and he eerily predicted the future.
Music genres are starting to blend in front of our eyes. It’s now possible to hear a tropical house track with Notorious B.I.G lyrics just like you can hear a deep house remix of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” Music knows no boundaries and it’s on full display in the electronic music scene. As a matter of fact, when I was at Ultra Music Festival over spring break, Kygo, a tropical house producer from Norway dropped a tropical version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Of course every single person at that stage was singing their heart out during that chorus too.
The blending of musical genres is a beautiful thing that we are witnessing. It’s allowing collaborations to occur that we never thought possible. Fans and little known producers only contribute to this thriving cross-over of genres. If you have the know how to make a progressive house track with your favorite rappers lyrics then you are just adding to the wealth of the music economy. Kaskade, one of my favorite DJ’s, puts the politics of mashups and collabs eloquently in his tumblr post. I’m excited about the democratization of music production and I can’t wait to listen to new music and mashups that I never imagined.
People don’t buy music anymore. It’s depressing news for the board members of record labels but it’s true. Music sharing and streaming services have taken over and they are here to stay. Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and Soundcloud are the main sources for music for the modern person. While this is a shift in the business model of the music industry, it’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s probably a better thing for the music industry. Instead of having to buy a song or album, you can easily listen to it on one of those apps. If you like it, you’ll add it to your playlist and play it for your friends. If they like it, they’ll do the same and so on. It’s free marketing and advertising through the most trusted source, your peers. This resonates with me as I have curated my own playlist on Soundcloud, which I have to add is on point, that my friends use to listen and find music which they enjoy. Possessing the means to expose the masses to music is what these streaming services offer. They also employ a democratic principle by allowing people to determine which songs they like and share. People will follow their favorite artists and record labels, look for trending or the most popular songs and curate their own playlists.
Again Kaskade, puts it perfectly in his blog post. If you free the music the money will follow. I wholeheartedly believe this. Record sales may not be like they were ten years ago, but artists are pulling more people to live shows and festivals than ever before. If you really like an artist, which let’s face it, everybody has a favorite that they are willing to go above and beyond to see, then they’ll do what needs to be done to see them and the money will still find its way to the board members pocket. Griz, the master sax man states in this video why he gives all his music out for free.
Last but surely not least is the shift towards live events and festivals. People love to enjoy each other’s company at electronic music events and will travel incredibly far distances to experience them. While there are those who think the EDM bubble is popping, I don’t think that’s true. Will it wane and disappear from popular radio stations across the country? Probably. That’s perfectly fine though. People will still flock to electronic dance music events. If anything, the changes I described above explain the shift towards preference for live events. There’s something special about hearing the music you love surrounded by people who are just as happy as you are to be there. The electronic dance music industry is changing but not for the worse. The people who love the music and the community will still be around long after the spotlight fades and EDM returns to the side stages because the principles of democracy run deep in dance music. The people are the most important part of this community and if you are a part of it, you know it to be true. The festival organizers certainly do, just look at the flyer for EDC Las Vegas last year.
By Adam Brewster