All through the ages the musical taste of the mainstream has shifted. In the modern era starting in 1940’s there was The Big Band sound in the 50’s there was good old Rock and Roll, in the 60s, the British Invasion took over, then in the late 70s Disco was the rage and in the 80s heavy metal reared it’s head. The 90s played with grunge and was followed by the 2nd millennium’s hip-hop & Pop that took over. So now what is the new music craze that has gone mainstream? Electronic dance music, better known as EDM, which has been around since the late 70s when ‘Disco Sucks’ pushed the genre underground and has been popular mostly in the clubs, known only to a handful of those who love to dance. Recently promoters have discovered that the 16 year old to the 20 year old market that don’t have entree into the clubs make up a large amount of the festival-goers and they love EDM. Several years ago, Guetta, Tiesto, Skrillex, Deadmou5, Swedish Mafia, Afrojack, R3hab and Kascade were virtually unknown to the world but with their meteoric rise to fame through EDM music and a bulging wallet to match, make no mistake, this is the next generation of music.
It has been reported by Forbes that in 2012 the world’s top ten highest-paid DJs made an astounding$125 million in total, through endorsements, recorded music sales and merchandise but mainly from touring, as the youth of the world has been bitten by the dance bug. Tiesto who topped the earnings last year grossed $22 million, garnering a ridiculous $250,000 a night according to Pollstar, with very little over head as DJs usually bring no more that a laptop and head phones to the party. Skrillex walked away with $15 million, Swedish House Mafia $14 million, Kaskade $10 million, AfroJack $9 million and the ‘Beat’ list goes on. Not only have the artists capitalized from this meteoric rise of EDM but an entire industry has also seen green from promoters to managers, lawyers, set designers, stage hands to food venders etc. Even Las Vegas is getting into the act, where casino mogul Steve Wynn has signed a gaggle of the top DJs to perform at his venues including Tiesto, Skrillex and David Guetta and started a new label with Ultra Records.
It is widely believed that the explosion of the EDM scene is largely due to the new social media where in an instant these beats have ignited a generation and beyond. The social ramifications of growing up in isolation behind a computer, is now being balanced by having the ability to come together at these festivals/concerts and feel the beat of a powerful force called the human connection. The other key to this EDM blowout may be that drugs like MDMA (Extacy,X, E, Molly) referred to as ‘rolling’ which gives one a feeling of euphoria and intimacy is the dance drug of choice and many of the festival/concert attendees are consuming it at full speed, an unfortunate side effect of the EDM culture.
Now that the EDM industry has proven to be a sound business, where does the artist go for the information needed to be successful in it? For the 28th year in a row the Electronic Dance Music Industry leaders from all around the globe descend annually on Miami for the Winter Music Festival to exchange their knowledge with those seeking to break into the industry, gain connections, promote their product/music, find the next star and just plain experience some amazing ‘Beats’ at some of the hippest venues in the world. The seminars prove to be invaluable for the smart Artis/DJs who want to know what does it take to be in the ‘Beats’ biz? It can answer the questions of how to launch their career, what is branding, how to remix a song or score for film & TV, to what does it take to make a record deal, or how to acquire fans through social media, to what is music publishing, or how to find an agent, manager or PR person and what is the best equipment to use? Artists also shared their knowledge and stories of their rise to fame, from DJ R3hab talking about his destiny to remix one of Lady Gaga’s songs in 48 hours that put him on the map or songwriter/performer Nile Rodgers of ‘I’m coming Out’ and ‘Material Girl’ fame telling his hilarious tale of when Diana Ross found out what ‘coming out’ meant. Since most schools don’t teach this information on EDM, The Winter Music Conference is the place to be to learn.
By Lauren Clarke-Bennett
& Scott Bennett