You can’t have missed it, something huge has been happening within the electronic music industry.. dance music has gone global!
I’m guessing that if you’ve shared my passion for the genre for any length of time you’ll know that’s old news, perhaps globally accepted is a turn of phrase that would better describe the shift in perception we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years. But as electronic music giants UMF & Ultra music announce their new ‘Global Alliance’ this week, Forbes Magazine reveal the top 10 earning DJs over the past 12 months and DJ Mag announce that they have uncovered attempts to manipulate the results of the DJ Mag Top 100, this shift in perception has never been more apparent than right now.
Electronic music lovers we are, and we’re lucky to share a passion for something that has accompanied us throughout our formative years. We’ve had a pretty balanced exposure to all kinds of music through media and entertainment on this side of the pond but electronic music has been ingrained in our culture through the 80′s, 90′s and on into the millennium. It has inspired so many lives and stories we now accept it as a cultural staple. While trends come and go it is fair to say that dance music has stamped an indelible footprint on our lives and it’s something we’ve watched and nurtured from the rudimentary seeds of acid house through to the incredibly diverse and multifaceted genre we see today. German techno, Italian House, The Hacienda, Gatecrasher, The Berlin Love Parade, Global Gathering, Dutch Trance, Human Traffic, Trance Energy, Trainspotting .. how differently our lives would have been shaped without these magnificent cultural mainstays.
So what has changed?
America has embraced the dance music revolution.
Just pick up any major US state newspaper and you’ll read about the rise of EDM, about Avicii or Kaskade, EDC or Miami WMC. Where for years four to the floor was largely dismissed Stateside, dance music has now infiltrated every commercial radio station in the country and captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Electronic music has been declared ‘the new rock n’ roll’
Unjustly so perhaps, I find myself awash with feelings of unease about how the genre that we hold so dear has been treated recently and what we have in store for her in the months to come. Another week rolls by and we find ourselves embroiled in a new onslaught of comedic artist memes and ridiculous cake slinging DJ antics, I’m beginning to correlate the growing media interest with the general feeling of frustration and loss of faith that many of the people I talk to feel.
I’m not saying that the dance music explosion in the US is to blame for this sudden wash of shallowness that appears to be attacking our beloved genre but there’s no question that it has been a major factor in generating a tidal wave of commercial interest that shows no sign of abating. We’ve been waiting for the world to take us seriously, for EDM fever to crack that last bastion of musical ratification, and now it has.
Will faceless global corporations gobble up our enthusiasm and weakness for great music only to spit us out on the edge of some deep chasm of mainstream superficiality? If electronic dance music is the new rock n roll will this steam-rolling media interest breed a new status of DJ celebrity? Dark clubs, pretty girls, alchohol, music .. they’re all part and parcel of this exciting profession, but I wonder if journalists will sensationalize this lifestyle or see behind it to the raw talent, hours of travel, days locked in the studio and years of hard work and determination that many of the worlds most successful DJs have put in to be where they are today. Is it really all just about the money? Has dance music lost its soul?
Just why the country where house music originated has taken 30 years to embrace electronic music is an essay in itself. One obvious hurdle has been the association that electronic music has had with recreational drugs, something that it has taken years for us to shake off in Europe. Times have changed, now artists like the Swedish House Mafia with their larger than life stage shows fill stadiums and sell out events globally. Clean cut, party loving heroes of the dance music revolution like Avicii and Kaskade are taking over the airwaves, commanding huge fees as they battle for the top spot in what is now a globally progressive industry. They’ve paved the way for a US EDM mania of sorts and as mainstream artists of other genres clamber to to be part of this sound rebellion the transition is complete.
My feelings of unease are not soothed however when terms like ‘house music’ are being bandied about by people who have clearly jumped on the bandwagon with a pair of sunglasses on and their fingers in their ears. And rebuilding a reputation that’s been tarnished in the US for years can be harder than we think, let’s be honest, all it takes is one hack-mouthed super-celeb abusing her influence on stage at a festival to rebuild those associations with recreational drugs all over again, leaving hundreds of thousands of parents reeling and worried about this new fad sweeping their precious youth. I guess the comparison to rock and roll runs deeper than we thought.
When I find myself grating at the ridiculous spectacle Paris Hilton made of herself in Brazil recently or the woeful laments of someone who’s upset that Justin Beibers latest song is a little too ‘techno’ I feel like burying my head and sobbing ‘Leave my beloved techno alone!’
If this sounds like musical snobbery I hold my hands up because there’s nothing that bothers me more than the arguments that go on within the dance music community. It’s not a secret, I’ve been happily sharing this passion with people from all over the world. South America, Asia, there has a been a huge EDM following in the US for years, but it’s never been commercially acceptable, popping up in ads, radio and every major news publication like it is now. Just have a look at US media giant Forbes and check how many times they’ve featured stories on DJs and dance music recently and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Unsettling thoughts arise when I think of the mainstream media and whether their intervention will change the face of electronic music forever. With popularity comes celebrity. With celebrity comes infamy and a whole host of fairweather fans whose attitude to the latest fads is as fickle as their choice of breakfast cereal.
I have no doubt that this new rise in popularity Stateside will drive some of the more discerning clubbers underground, but the scene survived this kind of turmoil back in the Gatecrasher days. When the superclubs outgrew themselves and rumours that Ibiza was ‘over’ were rife, dance music fought back and grew up a little. Will you desert the ship when electronic music is no longer just our secret? Will you wander off to find solace and inspiration in something new and unheard?
For me the key is to keep searching for that perfect new sound, for the talented up and coming producers and DJs who will keep the scene bubbling with energy and vision. There is something so comforting in the knowledge that out there are a legion of new and undiscovered musical virtuosos who can reignite the spark that we all found at the beginning of our love affair with EDM. This is how I will be weathering the storm.
If you are one of those who has truly discovered this beautiful music for the first time – welcome you to the dark side! There is something so enjoyable in seeing a persons eyes light up when they talk about a great new tune they’ve heard. That’s what it’s all about for me – sharing something that has been nurtured and developed with decades of hard work and creativity. I’m not the first to discover the joys of a dimly lit club pulsating to roaring techno or glorious trance. I most certainly will not be the last.
All I ask of you is this. Don’t just jump blindly on the hype bandwagon. Listen intently with your own discerning ear. Educate yourself. Take the time to find the music that truly makes your heart sing. This music is mine, it is yours, it belongs to everyone. Let’s bestow on dance music and the people who make it the passion and respect to nurture it for many years to come.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that electronic music is changing for the better? How do you feel about dance musics new found global popularity. Leave us a comment below .. we’d love top hear your thoughts