Is EDM The Rock n Roll Of Today?
If you were Calvin Harris, how would you spend $66m?
It’s a dilemma that he doesn’t have time to consider, as he is too busy packing 7,000 capacity, White House-sized nightclubs in Las Vegas, for a reported $300,000 per set. As the highest-paid electronic producer currently in the world, he might be earning $10,000 per fist pump behind the decks; but his rise, together with his fellow EDM artists, are showing no sign of slowing down. The current EDM Revolution is being touted as the new Rock n’ Roll, and no doubt many traditionalists are waiting for the collapse. Not only is the revolution here to stay, but it’s only just getting started.
Harris tops the latest Forbes 'Electronic Cash Kings' rich list with an annual $66m fortune, which is 50% higher than the previous year, and surpassing the likes of Rihanna, Jay-Z and all of One Direction. To put this achievement into even greater perspective, he topped Tiger Woods, Simon Cowell, Ronaldo, Messi and matched Beatles legend Paul McCartney. The rest of the list is made up of other multi-millionaires including David Guetta ($30m), Avicii ($28m), Tiesto ($28m) with Steve Aoki, Afrojack, Zedd, Kaskade, Skrillex, Deadmau5, Hardwell, Armin van Buuren and Steve Angello sharing $153m altogether.
So what makes the EDM Revolution so special? There are three factors which make up what I call the 'MEA Effect': Mainstream - Euphoria - Accessibility.
EDM is a marriage made in heaven with mainstream pop. Calvin Harris reflects back to a moment in pop history in 2011, when a combination of major artists including Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas and David Guetta were all hitting the top of the charts with EDM-heavy tracks. Whilst Europe has been partying for decades, the US - a sleeping giant in the EDM world - suddenly woke up. Collaborations with EDM Producers and the biggest names in pop became commonplace. Calvin Harris alone has worked with Rihanna, Ellie Goulding and Florence Welch. Dance music took over the charts stateside, and Pop EDM was born, becoming the mainstream sound listened to on the school run and office commute. Pop EDM's success is largely a result of fusing the genius of hit song writing with hook-laden electronic soundtracks.
It's no co-incidence that North America has turned to EDM at a time when economic crisis hit the continent and the world. To pull yourself out of a depression, there is no better cure than to party, and the uptempo, four-to-the-floor beat of EDM delivers every time. Whilst other genres can be therapy for angst, if there is a musical anthem for life, it is the soaring synth hooks, trance stabs and the rollercoaster ride of the risers and drops. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins enthuses that changing your state is one of the secrets to a successful life, and EDM music does that in seconds. Combine this shared experience and positive energy with a huge crowd, and you get a high for life more powerful than any artificial substance.
As a ten-year old, the closest I could get to a synth or drum machine was our high-street electronics store. It was a short-lived experience as the staff was unappreciative of my unique electronica fusion on the Casio keyboards, and they would kick me out every week. Today, in this new Electronic Era, kids are growing up with a music-making device in the palm of their hand. Unlike guitars and drums - the core tools of Rock n' Roll - kids are spending their school bus journeys and recess in composing heaven. The "book torch" has been replaced by the after-hours glowing duvet, as they create beats on their iPhones or Android devices. Phenomenally powerful free apps like Caustic or miniature versions of professional software such as FL Studio Mobile give the next generation of artists the musical equivalent of a Harry Potter wand to unleash their musical creativity.
Beyond apps ,we see even greater accessibility. FL Studio, used by superstar artists such as Avicii and Afrojack, gets downloaded an astonishing ten million times per year. To further join the dots, my anecdotal research shows music stores in North America are reporting sales of electronic dance music equipment far outstripping traditional instruments.
With artists ranging from Garrix teenagers to the Guettas approaching their 50’s, an EDM career also doesn’t have the short shelf-life of the latest boy-band or X Factor firework. The next generation of EDM superstars are starting younger and are busy refining their art form. Visually I imagine that if Sauron was a DJ, the Lord of the Spins would currently be putting together a new musical army like none ever witnessed.
Is it truly an EDM Revolution? Just watch the MEA Effect over the next five to ten years, and you'll realise it has only just begun.
Cover photo credit: Project Rhythm Seed
Written by Mark Desvaux
Mark Desvaux is a Music Coach and bestselling EDM Recording Artist (Urban Myth Club) signed to Warner Chappell. He is Founder and Course Director of the EDM Academy, which coaches and mentors EDM superstars of the future.