EDM: Effortless Digital Monetization

by Britt Chester | @awfullybrittish

There is no rhyme or reason to the music industry and with the curveball that EDM has thrown into the mix striking out every potential philosopher predicting what will be cool, the business is an absolute crapshoot right now.

This new generation of artists is blind, even humbly ignorant, to this idea. Looking at Porter Robinson, an artist USA Today profiled as a frontrunner in the EDM game before he was old enough to buy alcohol; the guy had never even been to an EDM show of any kind. Developing his skills in the bedroom on his laptop, Robinson figured out how to catch listeners with earworm pop vocals laced into massive drops. The formula for creating a hit just isn’t rocket science. The equation for success has been outlined in chalk on the walls for years.

When looking at the new school producers””a generation raised on video games, smart phones and access to technology at every level””it makes sense that rising artists would transfer that energy to a computer program that makes drag-and-drop songs a possibility. And with the potential outcome of serious cash, why not? That’s not to say that making music is as easy as something, like, Angry Birds, but the cognitive skills to succeed at both are not far off from each other. The problem here is that we praise these producers for doing something that is, for all intents and purpose, equivalent to reaching the final level of Super Mario Bros. by using the skip levels cheat. If y ou listen to electronic music and study it for even one day, you can get a good idea of what sounds resonate and what melodies work. Uplifting. Monumental. Epic.

These are three words that can define just about every song in the Beatport Top 100. Complex. Diverse. Intelligent. These are three words that need to define that list, but simply fall by the wayside to make room for the pop shit clogging YouTube and Spotify playlists. A prime example is the popularity of the Chainsmokers, a Brooklyn DJ duo that got started in 2012. Within two years, it created a song mocking its fan’s narcissism, “#Selfie.” This paved the road to their headlining spot at Ultra Music Festival 2014 (albeit replacing LaidBackLuke due to an in-labor wife) and a number one release with Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak label for the song “#Selfie.” There is nothing complex, diverse, or even intelligent about the song. Instead, it’s catchy and repetitive””two things that get gobbled up in this current music world.

IN 2013, SFX Entertainment, the North American behemoth event producer that is largely responsible for the mainstream success of EDM culture raining on America, acquired Amsterdam’s ID&T event production company. ID&T is responsible for monster events like TomorrowLand, Sensation, and MysteryLand. The acquisition cost SFX $130 million, with $30 million in stock shares of SFX Entertainment, a publicly traded company. Just prior to that merger becoming official, ID&T’s TomorrowWorld occurred just outside of Atlanta and saw over 120,000 attendees.

It makes sense that a publicly held American corporation would be so interested in acquiring such a company. (SFX Entertainment also purchased Beatport, the leading EDM online distribution website, for somewhere in the ballpark of $50 million.) Despite the ornate production that goes into a festival, and the money dumped into them, the fees for artists are rather disproportionate. Pasquale Rotella, founder and owner of Insomniac Events, the proprietor of Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, said to Billboard “It’s not just about the band on stage or the DJ on stage; It’s 10% venue, 10% acts, 10% production, 10% theatrics…” To play Electric Daisy Carnival, an artist sacrifices his/ her venue or club rate for the exposure and experience. It’s not a huge sacrifice in terms of pay, but that sort of thing is relatively non-existent when it comes to playing one-off shows.

Rotella also confirmed a “creative partnership” with Live Nation with a monetary value of $50 million. Whether or not we like it, EDM has exploded. The once underground scene that brought friends together through good music and even better connections is now in danger of becoming – GASP! – impure. Well, it already is. Its impurities, though, lie in the regions of disconnect that a unified fan base of listeners have in regard to what is considered “good music” when talking about EDM. The leaders of the old school – whether it’s fans or mainstream spotlight shone on other genres. As the EDM may- DJs – recall a feeling of intimate closeness when the media and hem ensues in America, people who were once proud to associate themselves with DJs and the scene became associated with the younger generation who, not by their own fault, became involved with the scene at the peak of its downfall.

What is the optimal outcome? To cancel all major EDM-centric festivals and events to reduce the saturation of one-hit artists striking gold? To close all avenues of music uploading so that songs like “#Selfie” can’t go viral? To stop booking DJs at events? This won’t happen anytime soon, and it shouldn’t. What will happen, and what will be most exciting, is to watch the evolution of artists change with the business. We’d like to think that although the artists who can now command $100,000 and headline a festival will stay true to the roots of dance culture and play clubs for affordable ticket prices and do it because, like us, they love it. !