The EDM bubble, the explosion of electronic music littered with skyrocketing DJ pay, a new festival every week, and Paris Hilton… When did it get so crazy? It’s hard to say, but I like to think that it was right around early 2008 that the EDM scene really started to show symptoms of a bubble behavior. To really see how the electronic dance music scene got to where it is today, you have to look at where it came from.
The electronic music scene prior to the EDM bubble was already well established. A lot of members of the current EDM scene don’t recall the EDM scene prior to 2005. Although, I am too young to give detailed witness account of this, locations like Goa in India, Ibiza in Spain, Berlin in Germany; London in England; and Chicago, New York, and Detroit in the USA have been holding down the electronic music scene for decades. The list really goes on and on, it wouldn’t be difficult to continue to name locations that have had a well developed electronic music scene.
The well developed electronic music scene was not an inadvertent manifestation, it was established by founders of electronic music who put great dedication into the music they made. (In alphabetical order) C+C Music Factory, Carl Cox, Daft Punk, David Guetta, Fat Boy Slim, Frankie Knuckles, Paul Oakenfold, Moby, Pete Tong, and Tiesto were among the most well known members of the EDM scene at the time. Each one of those producers helped build the scene. Moby’s electronic music influenced the way licensing was appropriated within Hollywood; his album Play was the most licensed album in history, shining a light on the electronic dance music community. Paul Oakenfold was the first EDM artist to do an arena show, he opened for U2 in 1992 and 1993. In 1986, Pete Tong released The House Sound of Chicago Volume 1, the first British musical release to expose the genre. In 2004, Tiesto opened up the Summer Olympics, pushing the genre to new heights when considering the audience size that he performed for.
With a well established industry in place, electronic dance music really only had one direction to go, up. As the electronic music scene continued to mature, it gained increasing attention from record labels due to both an increasing musical preference for electronic music among fans, but arguably more so because of the many experienced electronic dance music producers who were looking for work to enhance their own careers. With record labels understanding the production quality and underlying demand that was found in electronic music, it was as if they found the one ring to rule them all.
Record labels’ use of EDM production styles in Pop music can be found in Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back produced by Timbaland in 2006, Timbaland took the electronic sound and ran with it on The Way I are in 2007. 2007 also featured mainstream releases like Rihanna’s Don’t Stop the Music and David Guetta’s Love is Gone. The sound continued to grow eventually leading to The Black Eyed Peas sampling of David Guetta’s Love is Gone in 2009.
The virality of the music in this time was facilitated by the spark of internet based social networks and increasing online userability in general. Any song gaining any sort of attention would see exponential growth compared to that of the past due to the new ease of information transmission. The internet facilitated the foundation for site’s like Laidback Luke’s forum which provided infrastructure for EDM producers to give and receive knowledge. Artist’s, like Avicii, jump started their careers utilizing Laidback Luke’s forum. Electronic dance music was getting really popular, really fast, there was just one key factor from the equation that hasn’t been mentioned yet, festivals.
EDM festival profitability grew for a number of reasons. As mentioned before, Electronic Music was more widely accepted due to it’s strong background and influence on Pop music which created a naturally larger fan base for the EDM festivals. EDM festival profitability growth was also due in part to the better promotional methods via the internet. With social media outlets facilitating promotions, EDM festivals could get a greater return on their word of mouth.
As of 2008 the EDM scene had built a motivated environment. From that point on it was natural for on lookers to be attracted to the scene. With the new electronic dance music scene came a new brand, a fresh more marketable name in the form of the notorious acronym, EDM. In retrospect it’s easy to see so much of the commercialization taking place throughout the years, but if the EDM bubble were to be realized at any one moment it would have to be in October of 2013. It was in October of 2013 that SFX Entertainment went public and began trading on NASDAQ, the ultimate sign of an industry’s corporatization. On the morning that SFX began trading, Afrojack was in Times Square, New York City to ring the bell, begin trading, and ring in the new era of electronic dance music.