Living the Electric Dream

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Peace, Love, Unity and Respect(P.L.U.R.) is the code followed by the culture that  listens to or attends any EDM aka Electro Dance Music festival.  EDM has exploded on the music scene in the past years and the growth seems almost unstoppable.  But dance has been around, starting in the 80’s and becoming more developed in the 90’s.  But in the past several years it has exploded into the music scene almost overnight and the DJ has become this generations “Rock Stars”.   People are following their favorite DJ’s all over the world, one festival at a time.

The EDM scene has become a driving force in the music business and is nothing to be ignored.  While this music isn’t everyone taste, it is the new generation’s revolution.  According to Jonathan Bogart in his article Buy the Hype, music has a way of cycling though genres every 30 years or so and the new forms that emerge are not always the fan favorite at first.  But isn’t that the norm?  Jazz was outshone by rock, rock was triumphed by Hip-Hop and now EDM has come full throttle and it is in the earlier stages of its cycle and has the power to complete its reign until the latest and great over powers it.  DJ’s have become the new “it” thing in music business.  They are putting out CD’s and are collaborating with artists from all different genres and making hit after hit records.  And most of DJ’s are also producers so that is a record labels dream deal.  They have a full package artist and don’t have to bring anyone else in to help pump out the chart topping albums.

Some people feel the staying power of EDM isn’t a long life span but with the way the culture is growing around it, I feel it’s here to run full circle until the next big thing hits airwaves.  EDM like other types of music has already broken into different types of styles like Dub Step, Progressive House, Trap, Electro House and Trace to name a few.  In 2000 there were about 9 sub genres in EDM and now there are almost 200 according to John Langdon in the article Wall Street Veterans Give An Inside Look at the Growth and Longevity of Dance Music written by Jay Smooth.  It has also filtered into other competing genres like hip-hop, pop and rock.  Along with chart topping albums to keep the music around, we have the explosion of dance festivals that travel the world and people are following them to no end.  From the same article, written by Smooth, Langdon and his company values the industry as a whole right now around $15 to $20 billion dollars.  He also stated that the festival growth in 2012 alone was 33% more than the previous year and the revenue generated $4.5 billion in sales alone.  He goes on to say that if someone that wants to invest in the business from an advertising perspective and you were able to get the attention of 3.4 million people for a consecutive 3 days  who were all there for the same purpose and were the up and comers in the future would you spend your money on that or the Super Bowl for a one time spot for 30 seconds.  This speaks volumes to the staying power of the music and why commercially the music is growing into this massive force.

Now why has this movement grown from this underground subculture from the 90’s to the mainstream culture of today?  Well the clubs kids from back in the 90’s are now grown up and they still love the music and the culture.  So they are the ones out there creating the music and the festivals that have captured the attention of the younger crowd that was looking for a place to fit in like they were.  The ravers of yesterday and today have one thing in common, they are and were the “freaks” of their time.  They wanted to find a place to fit in and EDM and the rave culture has given them a home and a family that accepts them with no judgement.  Tommy Sunshine in the documentary Under the Electric Sky: EDC 2013 says it all,

I play music for all of the people that don’t know where they fit into the world, I’m with them.  I was a raver long before I was a DJ.  These are all the kids that ate lunch by themselves in high school, these are the loners and they stumbled upon this and went whoa, I belong here. 

The world is changing and this movement is no longer the underground.  It is the new normal and there is an unrest in the rave community.  EDM has surpassed its life in the pop culture realm and has moved to the mainstream part of society.  This is due to the big business of the music scene.  Corporate America has gotten its hand in the cookie jar and it is making this once underground culture a part of everyday life and that tears at the root of EDM’s soul.  These two forces are what helped propel this movement from underground and pop culture to mainstream status.  This is explained by Storey and his neo-Gramscian Theory in the wikipedia post about pop culture:

 “… sees popular culture as a site of struggle between the ‘resistance’ of subordinate groups in society and the forces of ‘incorporation’ operating in the interests of dominant groups in society.”

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Those once freaks and geeks that had no place to fit have found their home in the culture of ravers, but at what cost?  The groups of people that wanted to find a home to fit in are now competing with big business and struggling to even be able to attend these festivals due to the cost of admission. Corporate America has come in and taken the soul of EDM and made it a money making monster and now there is no looking back.  EDM will live out its cycle and be replaced by the next underground movement and this will all be a dream.

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One thought on “Living the Electric Dream

  1. I’ve been listening to trance since I was 13 from my parents and it’s amazing to see how much EDM has emerged through an underground culture to a mainstream culture. I go out to EDM festivals myself and it has changed so many lives and even made people become more kind and loving because that’s what the music does. Music connects people and it’s an escape from reality. I wonder what the next music genre is to override EDM the next couple of years? What can get bigger than EDM festivals?

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