Dance Music in general has certainly seen its ups and downs over the years. A great way to see this is by looking at the U.S for the evolution of dance and what caused it to explode in the last 5 years.
Speaking from a non-US resident, in a personal perspective, I have seen both sides to the story. Back in the early 2000’s I took my first visit to Twilo in New York, which back then was a different place to what it is now. Back then the music was more ‘underground’ in its flavor, BUT nowadays the underground core has made way to a more commercial market. Its music, now being mainstream, is now far wider accepted.
Then, take the likes of Tiesto. He set a benchmark in dance music, when he became something far different from what the listener knew him for. For years Tiesto was the “trance god” of all dj’s, and churned out ground breaking arena concerts and globally renowned music releases. Not to mention the first ever dj to dj an Olympics opening ceremony (2004 Athens) and play at Euro Disney.
He has created a brand that is bigger than himself, after all not many dj’s have their own waxwork at Madame Tussauds or have a Grammy award (2015). His positive effect in the scene and his business sense shows more prolifically when he took up residency in Hakkasan/Wet Republic, MGM Grand in Las Vegasin 2012. They have since added Above & Beyond, Calvin Harris, Hardwell and Steve Aoki to its roster showing the growth and acceptance of the music into the market.
“We are delighted to continue our partnership with such a talented and creative artist, particularly on the heels of the monumental year he just experienced,”
(2014) said Neil Moffitt CEO of Hakkasan Group.“Tiësto continues to bring a spectacular level of entertainment to his performances at Hakkasan and Wet Republic and we are thrilled to see what he has in store for the coming years.”
As Tiesto himself said in 2013:
"With the scene blowing up in America, Vegas is so much fun now," he says. "It's the right time to do it. I do everything on my gut feeling, and I felt like it's going to be awesome there. I've been to Ibiza for 10 years, and I love Ibiza, but I always look for something new and a new challenge."
The rumour mill being what it is stated that due to the ever-expanding scene of dance music, Calvin Harris is being paid $400,000 per night at his Hakkasan residency, and in 2016 Forbes ranked Harris in the top spot of the highest paid dj, earning $66 million.
The mass of attention surrounding the business of dance music demonstrates the current climate of the power of the genre and the direction in which it will go. The current trend has attracted the attention of entertainment moguls and entrepreneurs across the world. One company to jump onto the rollercoaster is the ticketing company, Eventbrite. Filling a gap in the market, Eventbrite serves much of the live EDM scene. Grossing more than $1 billion since its inception in 2006, the company provides an alternative to giants like Ticketmaster.
“EDM is really an international movement, so we’ve got a localized site, localized payments that expand throughout the globe, and we’re seeing great traction,” Said Kevin Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite - Music Business Journal Oct 12, 2016
According to Forbes magazine: “Dance music’s convergence with pop music has made it more accepted as well as opened up the genre to a host of new listeners.” Pop music fans are easing into dance music through a genre they are already familiar and comfortable with. A symbiotic relationship has developed in such a way that dance music artists gain access to a wider fan base while pop music artists feed off the fresh hype surrounding dance music.
So the surge of dance music in the US is clearly showing something of resurgence. Dj’s are becoming high paid entertainers, joining the rich lists and winning Grammy’s.
I spoke to California based Dj Christina Ashlee to get her opinion:
“I think the US has always had love for electronic music. There's always been areas of the country that had a thriving underground scene that was passionate about music. The reason for the explosion is tough to say. I think there are many reasons. One is the music industry pushed for it. I think they finally saw value in electronic music and that's when they decided to market EDM. And the marketing obviously worked. Plus I also think production of electronic music is easier today then it's ever been. Not to say it doesn't take talent, but software has simplified it. People here in the US has now been eating it all up because I think it's a combination of their appreciation for electronic music and the love for mainstream. So then it evolved into what we have today, with many sub-genres and scenes that's come and grown since.” www.facebook.com/DJChristinaAshlee
Another example of the boom is when you look at Hollywood movies and the amount of EDM that’s going into them. Moby – Extreme Ways: in The Bourne Ultimatum, Dj Snake, Duck Sauce, Bingo Players and Flosstradamus in 22 Jump Street, Skrillex, Pretty Lights and Zedd fuelling Divergent, Major Lazer, Diplo, Rusko, Doctor P in Lets Be Cops, R3hab, Bassjackers, Dillon Francis, laidback Luke in Neighbors. Daft Punk who did the entire score in Tron: Legacy. So when you look back at previous movie encounters, the dance scene is gaining momentum pretty heavily on the silver screen.
And then spoke to Dj AO:
“The rise of dance music (EDM) in the US over the last 5 years has been amazing in my opinion. I feel like it gained popularity so quickly because, in my opinion, it seemed as if there was a large base of US music fans that wanted something different, music was feeling stale. Hip-hop and R&B was on somewhat of a decline, which had been dominating the club scene for much of the 2000s. This new wave of dance music came just at the right time. Catchy beats and melodies with pop influences and hard-hitting bass began to sneak its way into our popular radio stations. Dance djs began to show up more and more on popular festival lineups. A younger crowd just entering the club scene was greeted by this newly emerging "culture" where positivity and respect for each other was the underlying message. These dance festivals were like nothing we ever experienced, and the dj became the new rockstar. It was sort of the perfect storm actually. Today we can still see "EDM culture" still very popular but beginning to change a bit. Influences from other genres such as hip-hop and pop music are starting to surface and are slightly altering the landscape of the biggest dance music festivals. The Bass music scene in the US is at an extremely quick rise in popularity as it is connecting more with today’s younger fans. It will be interesting to see where the next 5 years take us, but I predict rock music starting to impact the scene with more of hybrid rock/electronic based artist emerging”. www.facebook.com/AOelectroOfficial
Another way of looking at the explosion is who is using what in regard to dance music. I have been asked recently to supply mixes for a new US gamer using a twitch.tv site, which although only infant, has the tech and fans behind not only the gaming BUT also the music side. www.twitch.tv/aninsomniacdreaming
So five years down and the explosion still continues and may it continue for at least another 5 years.