The rise and rise of Electronic Dance Music
Born in the clubs of the 1980’s during the warehouse party and rave scenes, Electronic Dance Music (EDM) isn’t a revolutionary genre in itself. But in less than 5 years, what was considered a marginal and sketchy part of the music business seems to have invaded all levels of popular culture. From the striking presence of electronic music acts such as French duo Justice and Swedish DJ/producer Avicii in the Lollapalooza line-up, to the Grammy award success of American producer Skrillex, the growth of EDM has been one of the most remarkable genre success stories of recent times.
Today, acts such as Avicii, Deadmau5 and Bassnectar sell out arenas where the likes of Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were previously drawing the crowds. Last December, Madison Square Garden was headlined by a DJ act, Swedish House Mafia, for the first time ever. And then there’s David Guetta, who collaborates with the biggest American mainstream artists, including Rihanna, Snoop Dogg and the Black Eyed Peas. It is now electronic music that primarily draws the 16-25 year olds to festivals such as Lollapalooza, or the Electric Daisy Carnival which sold out on the day of release – three hours before the headliners had even been announced.
The breakthrough of EDM is a by-product of the age of DIY. The new low-cost technologies have opened amazing opportunities to a new generation of bedroom-DJs and producers, now able to create high quality music and become global superstars. Social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook used as awareness tools allowed them to directly reach their fans all over the world without the middle-man label. This bottom-up phenomenon, where the artist and his/her fans become independent from the music industry and can make a project happen, is an exciting revolution.
At a time where the whole music industry – and particularly physical and digital sales – is in crisis, live performances are the main revenue source for artists. This poses a challenge and an opportunity for EDM: while the ostentatious figure of Lady Gaga on stage is as much a draw as her music; dance music, where the producer is buried under his machines, doesn’t offer much of a visual experience. To deal with this weakness, EDM artists have developed amazing tools, heavily relying on new video mapping and light technologies, for example Amon Tobin and his last ISAM light show:
Others have created mix-media events, like the stunning collaboration between legendary DJ Richie Hawtin and world acclaimed sculptor Anish Kapoor, resulting in an audiovisual project of epic scale:
EDM has become an amazing and exciting place of innovation and creation, where artists from all sides – designers, composers, performers – can share their new ideas and work together, revolutionizing the way music is performed and enjoyed.
We’re excited to see where things go next, are you?