6 reasons why EDM doesn’t suck

6 reasons edm doesn't suck

As EDM music swept through clubs and gained a massive following, veteran DJs and dance music insiders often grumbled that the genre was formulaic, dumbed-down, and commercial. Yet despite what people think of the sound, the popularity of EDM has actually had a revolutionary impact on dance music.

Dance music is no longer considered “niche”

EDM has effectively removed the glass ceiling that was once in place for dance music artists. Up until a few short years ago, dance music in the U.S., the world’s largest market, was considered a niche category.

The success of EDM in reaching a wide audience has pried open the door that formerly kept dance music separate from Pop. Both mainstream audiences and the music industry itself have now become supportive, with dance artists playing on a scale (and charging fees,) similar to Pop stars.

The growth of EDM has evolved into an industry, and has shown that DJs and producers of dance music are financial forces to be reckoned with. Even Forbes now publishes a yearly list devoted to this exact subject, titled “The Electronic Cash Kings“.

reason why edm sucks


Dance music is now more discoverable by mainstream audiences

The success of EDM, combined with a change in listening habits, has led to more exposure for dance genres beyond EDM. Through both Spotify recommended songs and YouTube playlists, a trickle down theory is at work, where mainstream audiences drawn initially to EDM are exposed to more sophisticated and obscure genres of dance music.

The effects have been stunning. Music that would have only reached a few thousand DJs a few years ago, are now racking up hundreds of millions of plays on YouTube. Without the popularity of the EDM genre, more sophisticated varieties of dance music would likely have continued to languish in relative obscurity.

The line between underground and mainstream music has been erased

This increase in discoverability has other implications as well. Music that was once considered “underground” is now enjoying the same degree of exposure as more commercial tracks.

At a recent Disclosure concert in Hong Kong, the group ended their show with a Flume remix of their song “You & Me.” While the thousand-plus crowd danced and mouthed the words, it became apparent that we have reached a totally new era. Artists like Flume were once held back by a lack of exposure and consumers need for music to fit neatly into a particular genre. What we have witnessed over the last few years is a complete breakdown of those walls, as music fans develop a more open minded and adventurous taste.

edm music doesnt suck reason why

Dance producers can now make a living by producing exactly what they love
Because the market for dance music has grown and diversified, it’s now a viable career to make a living as a dance music producer. Although still not an easy career, there are more opportunities as a producer / DJ than there were in the past. Recently, obscure, but extremely talented dance artists have been able to benefit from this surge in interest and ride the electronic music wave to greater success.

Underground talents have the opportunity to become stars
Diplo is perhaps the biggest example of someone who was an underground talent that was able to cross over and reach Pop star status. His song “Lean On” with the group Major Lazer has well over a billion views on YouTube. That’s an awful lot of plays. To put things in perspective, the official video for Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” has less than 250 million plays.

Diplo hong kong mad decent block party
Diplo’s first time performing in Hong Kong was with Steve Aoki at Dragon-i!

EDM created a new economy for dance music via festivals
Exponential growth in music festivals has created opportunities for a wide range of DJs to tour and derive an income. Global brands like Ultra, in addition to local variants around the world, have created a network of festivals that deliver larger audiences and lead to bigger payouts for dance DJs.

The economic realities of the new music industry, where artists make more from touring than from physical product or digital sales, has pushed the industry to support this model and promote producer / DJs. While there are over two dozen superstars, there are hundreds of others who regularly play the festival circuit.

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2 Comments

  • You actually named all the reasons why EDM does suck indeed.

    – Dance music is no longer considered “niche” –
    It never has been. Electronic music was part of the music world since it hit its places. And calling it DANCE music does not change that in any way.

    – Dance music is now more discoverable by mainstream audiences –
    Are you kidding? That also happened in the late 80s and early 90s. We saw the Lobeparade and MAYDAY festivals being based on the same “mainstream availability” of electronic music as we do now with your EDM circus.

    – The line between underground and mainstream music has been erased –
    You could not be any further from the truth here. Look at the nonsense going on in these EDM festivals. You think it can hold a candle to underground music? Far off man. Listen to some accurate Techno and Trance music. There is stuff that will never touch your mainstream EDM hype, things your EDM producers never get their hands on because more serious people keep it steadily going back underground where the development of the music sees its natural continuation while the mainstream only hampers on what it got its claws on until it is off the charts and the mainstream people need something new to have unruly mental sex with.

    – Dance producers can now make a living by producing exactly what they love –
    Really. And while I realize what pap EDM artists produce, it makes me wonder how people shove their money down those “half musicians/half circus show managers” throats. But people pay for it so they shall have what they deserve. Not me though. I put my money where its worth it. Techno, Trance and House producers who know their genres. Mainstream artists don’t give a single buck. They are there for the show. Nothing else.

    – Underground talents have the opportunity to become stars –
    Guess what? underground talents have no means to become “mainstream pop stars”. Forget it.
    People like Above and Beyond or Tiesto never were underground and they become even worse, totally separating themselves from what they once claimed their musical home. I mean it is their decision. They are just not in anymore. They are out. Forever.

    – EDM created a new economy for dance music via festivals –
    You repeat the same error again. The mass production of mainstream electronic music business was running hot in the 90s already.

    And that is why EDM sucks just as much as did the 90s rave manege. It will try to take the last breath out of electronic music but fail miserable. Fortunately so!

  • Dear Michael from Germany, thank you for leaving such a long and passionate comment.

    All of your points might be true regarding electronic dance music and the German market, however they certainly aren’t true when applied to the U.S. market, which is epicenter of the commercial EDM trend that I’m talking about in the post.

    I only need one name as a rebuttal to you, Diplo. None of your points can stand up against Diplo’s rise from an underground DJ and producer, to a mainstream Pop star, and a star of the EDM / festival circuit. I’m not certain how long your relationship with Dance music is, but Diplo was a consistently innovative force in underground dance music for a decade before getting picked up by the mainstream. In many ways, he was able to bend Pop to his aesthetic, not the other way around. (Think M.I.A. and Major Lazer)

    Likewise, he has consistently been able to introduce underground dance producers to mainstream EDM audiences by including them heavily in his sets and featuring them on his tours and radio shows.

    Thanks again for your comment! 🙂

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