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Can EDM Outlive 'The Business Of EDM'?

Electronic Dance Music is now the pulse of humanity. It’s a bold statement, but I can back it up. While we don’t all speak the same language, we can most likely feel the music. Children and adults worldwide are forgetting their troubles and dancing to computer-generated audio. “Global Bass” is a more generally accepted term among artists. It explains how cultures across the globe have reworked their traditional sounds into digital approximations of what they once were. Cumbia, Kuduro, and Dubstep are all examples of this.

Understanding this phenomenon helps you to realize that before the superstars, before the mega festivals, and in the midst of a catastrophic music industry collapse, EDM somehow managed to rise. It rose in major fashion. The Billionaires chased EDM, not the other way around. In June of 2012 the New York Times wrote about the company “SFX Entertainment”, a major player in the world of EDM, started by Robert Sillerman. By October of 2013, Sillerman had taken his company public.

SFX began in the 1990s with a strategy of consolidating regional Rock music promoters into one huge entity. In 2000, it was purchased by Clear Channel, ultimately being spun off and rebranded as “Live Nation.” For the 2nd coming of SFX, Sillerman applied the same strategy with EDM. All this has been met with mixed reviews. As regional promoters are acquired (or eliminated), musicians not signed to preferred agents are finding it difficult to play live. Ticket prices have skyrocketed and venues are feeling the pinch, as many concertgoers save money to see bigger acts. It seems as if the only game in town is now the huge festival booking.

Currently, festivals are enjoying a heyday. Musicians themselves prefer the guaranteed crowds and higher revenues they offer. SFX is definitely in the business of promoting the “shared experience” over the intimate surroundings, but what do the numbers say?  A Google Finance snapshot of SFX stock shows its most recent trade (as of this writing) to be $8.30 per share. Considering that the stock went public at close to $12 a share, it’s safe to assume that the casual investor may be having second thoughts. It’s not easy to call, but SFX definitely looks like a long-term play.

It may be too early to bet against SFX. If the eventual stock drop was caused by acquisitions, then we can fully expect to see an increased number of music festivals popping up. That then begs the question: How will those same 15 guys (everyone needs to book talent) be able to sustain this business model? In order for it to work, we are going to need equal respect to be paid toward the musicians, and we’ll need more diversity in music.

At this point, the idea of the shared experience is fine. As reported in another EDM.com article, 2014’s Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas has sold out even before announcing the lineup. People want to go with their friends. Everyone wants to “be there,” but how long will that last? Like the stock price of SFX, public interest is an unpredictable roller coaster ride. The sudden preference for a more intimate fan-focused environment could be one viral news story away. Think Borders vs. Amazon, or Blockbuster vs. Netflix.

Should the “big money” decide to cut their losses and leave for greener pastures, where will that leave the EDM scene? Have fans been cultivated to actually “LIKE” who is being booked, or is the “experience” the only thing festivals have to offer? Billionaires can afford to be one-trick ponies. A worldwide phenomenon like EDM or Global Bass relies on inclusion and diversity. If you truly love music of any kind, you will not let business define the movement.

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of EDM.com.

Article contributed by MC Zulu.

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