Electronic Music Taking Over the World
This past March, 165,000 dance music enthusiasts travelled from across the globe to Miami, where the annual Ultra Music Festival was taking place. Electronic Dance Music or EDM, has exploded onto the American music scene and festivals are held year round, pulling in millions of dollars for both disc jockeys and concert promoters. Many DJs routinely pull in six-figure paychecks for a one-night performance and have become the rock stars of this generation.
According to the International Music Summit report, EDM was the highest growing mainstream genre of music in the United States in terms of gross album sales. The 2012 Grammy awards featured performances from acclaimed international DJs David Guetta and Deadmau5; highlighting the growing taste for electronic music in America. The uplifting melodies have transcended onto radio stations across America, taking the place of lyrical pop and rock and roll music.
The global appeal of dance music has descended upon college campuses around the country. The formerly number one ranked DJ, Tijs Verwest, known as Tiesto, launched a “College Invasion Tour” that visited over 30 campuses across the United States. Tens of thousands of students pay upwards of $60 to attend these massive concerts that are complete with lasers, pyrotechnics and thumping bass. At New York University, students can enroll in a class titled: “The Business of Electronic & Dance Music.”
Many local bars and clubs are taking advantage of the new music phenomenon to attract larger crowds. James Raffini, a student at Georgetown University, has also been able to reap the benefits. According to Raffini, “Dance music is here to stay, the music attracts a wide variety of personalities and DJs such as Avicii and the Swedish House Mafia are becoming household names. Any DJ can make it big these days, the combination of social media and electronic music is the flawless recipe for an aspiring producer.”
The accessibility of electronic music has been another big draw for the industry. Individuals simply need a laptop and a melody in order to produce music that rivals some of the big name producers. Gone of the days of needing an entire band to perform, instead you can recreate the sound of an entire orchestra with a few keystrokes and the click of a mouse. Justin Blau, a former student at Washington University, has taken time off from his studies to tour the globe and perform at music festivals with the biggest acts in the industry. The accessibility of electronic music has spurred the viral craze that is sweeping the nation. Websites such as Beatport, Soundcloud, and the Hype Machine allow listeners to comment and share music at the click of a button.
Felipe Ernst, a junior at Georgetown University and resident of Miami has experienced the rise of EDM first hand. “At Ultra [Music Festival], there are hundreds of thousands of fans who are all passionate about the music. Dance music festivals have become popular with the younger population due to tempo and uplifting rhythm of the music. Many pop artists are sampling todays superstar DJs in order to stay relevant in todays music culture.”
According to a recent article by Forbes, the ten highest paid DJs pulled in a combined $125 million last year, more than the entire payroll of the Los Angeles Lakers. These artists have created alter egos that transcend their humble beginnings. The lines between EDM and pop music are blurring as the music industry adapts to the taste of listeners. Nick van de Wall, a Dutch DJ commonly known as Afrojack, has worked with the biggest names in pop music such as Beyonce, Pitbull, and even Korean sensation PSY. The beauty of electronic music is that a song is never quite finished; borrowing, tweaking, remixing and editing the music of others is an essential element of the genre, fueling its growth even further.
The owners of bars in Washington D.C. are also trying to get a slice of the action. Evan Floyd, a professional DJ, who has residencies at many of the nightlife hotspots in Washington D.C. says of EDM: “It is the genre of the moment. Bars and clubs need to capitalize on it if they want customers to continue to flock to their establishments.” At these bars traditional live bands are slowly being replaced by a DJ and a pair of high-tech turntables. Events such as DJ Battles are being hosted at bars across the country to encourage turnout that otherwise might not exist. Floyd remarks, “DJ’s can spread the word about an event more effectively than any other artists. Social media allows us to stay in touch with a network of fans and immediately notify them of an upcoming event.” Nightclubs and college bars have capitalized on hosting large-scale events with big name DJs that can attract a full capacity audience.
Electronic music has existed for decades, but until recently it was a mere underground genre in the United States. The thousands upon thousands attending music festivals around the world have made it clear that electronic music is booming. However, music tastes shift, as culture changes, and it may only be a brief moment that electronic music is in the limelight. As the genre evolves, listeners and business owners will only stand to benefit from the tremendous opportunity that exists. The impact electronic music has had on the American culture is undeniable, but the question is how long will its impact last and what lies ahead.