How Social Media Forever Changed The EDM Scene Pt. 1
An industry now worth $6.2 billion had its modest beginnings as an underground utopia. American raves originated at illegal parties in the early 90s inside abandoned warehouses. Now, electronic dance music is a global phenomenon and the DJ/producers are the popstars of our generation. 2014 proved to be the biggest year for EDM, as Daft Punk was the first dance act to win Best Album and Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards. Major companies including HBO, FIFA, Syco Entertainment and Disney stepped into the EDM market in 2014 as well. Massive DJ/producers like Skrillex, Bassnectar, Eric Prydz, and Above & Beyond have taken the infamous Madison Square Garden in 2014 alone. EDM is a huge industry with small beginnings, but when did it get like this, and how did it transform into one of the biggest movements of our generation?
Veterans of the dance music community would agree that the biggest change between the early and modern rave eras is the difference in communication style. Nearly three billion people are online, and in North America alone, Internet users have nearly tripled in size since 2000. The EDM industry now thrives off of social media for various reasons. EDM fans are technology and Internet addicts. According to a study from Eventbrite, the typical EDM fan tweets eleven times a day while the normal user tweets 1.85 times on average a day. It is undeniable that the connection between social media and the industry has made a significant impact on the culture. In order to understand the role of social media alongside the growth of EDM, we must look at the scene before it hit mainstream.
“Part of the explosion of the whole electronic scene has been totally tied to the Internet and the way we communicate over vast distances.” – Richie Hawtin.
Although the music industry as a whole heavily relies on communication, the electronic branch in particular has a unique relationship with the Internet and social media. Early American rave was an era of flyers, mailing lists, and driving cross-country to go to any given party. EDM was once engraved with anonymity; however, the growth of technology has severely impacted the way ravers and industry members communicate. In the early rave days, parties were promoted via word of mouth. The entire thing was phone-based where you would call for directions the day of and find yourself miles away from home in an old, abandoned warehouse dancing until noon the next day.
Since the Internet flourished in the 90s, around the same time electronic music did in America, the community soon found new methods of communication by creating online mailing lists separated by region. Specifically, founders of NE-Raves (New England) John Adams and SFRaves (San Francisco) Brian Behlendorf had significant influences on the way the rave scene communicated. By the mid 90s, people were using the Internet to promote their parties. EDM fans were amongst the first social media users, utilizing websites such as AOL or public forums to communicate with others who had similar interests. V-Rave, the infamous virtual rave chat server, was the land of the first ravers. Because of several issues, V-Rave was shut down after six years in 1998. This was the moment when ravers decided to take their EDM lives outside of illegal warehouses to the phone or Internet. Electronic music took its first step onto technology, expanding beyond the traditional word-of mouth to word-of-mouse.
The first flyer for Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival in 1997. [Photo credit via Insomniac]
Facebook is widely considered the leading social media platform, with over 1.2 billion users and 2.5 billion pieces of content shared daily. 23% of users check their Facebook at least five times each day, proving this platform has the largest opportunity for brand exposure and audience reach in the most inconspicuous way. EDM fans are able “like” pages of their favorite DJ/producers and share that they’re going to an event. At one point in time, artists were able to exchange free downloads for page likes. Tiësto recently hit a staggering 19 million likes on his Facebook page, and responded by releasing a free download to his new remix of “Drunk In Love” by Beyoncé. Referring back to the earlier days of rave culture, ravers had long sought for a place to discuss the music and events. Facebook offers the group feature, which virtually allows anyone to communicate in an easy and efficient way.
Twitter allows EDM fans to follow artists, management companies, record labels, and big entertainment businesses. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter offers the keyword search feature, which is useful for discovering trending topics people are discussing. Some of the top EDM related accounts include Skrillex, Calvin Harris, and with David Guetta at the top with over 16 million followers. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival utilizes the platform in a rather unique way by having fans call a hotline to receive a single name on the 2015 lineup and have them tweet that artist to get one step closer to revealing the full lineup. Twitter also recently partnered with massive streaming platform SoundCloud to introduce their innovative, easy-access streaming service right from Twitter’s newsfeed called Audio Card. Over 78% of users access the Twitter app via smartphone, meaning that Twitter offers the best mobile coverage out there.
Instagram stands as the most visually focused platform. With over 150 million accounts and 55 million posts a day, Instagram is primarily a platform for the youth. 23% of teens consider Instagram their favorite social media platform. This sharing outlet is similar to Twitter because of the abundance of fake/spam accounts. Instagram deleted all fake/spam accounts, resulting in the average loss of 7.67% of followers per account. Skrillex ranked the biggest loser and lost over 92 thousand followers although still maintains an outstanding 1.7 million. Artists utilize Instagram to preview unreleased content, as well as show their personal lives when they’re not behind the turntables. Last year, Insomniac released their 2014 EDC Las Vegas line up via Instagram. Pasquale Rotella teased comical memes relating to the lineup throughout the day of the announcement, followed by a quick video that showed the lineup in the blink of an eye. From a marketing standpoint, it sure built the hype of the already sold out event.
With over one billion users worldwide and over four billion videos viewed each day, YouTube offers users the ability to go viral. Top EDM channels include David Guetta with over 6.8 million subscribers and Calvin Harris with 3.5 million subscribers. EDM is generally considered a leader in the world of streaming live events. A few examples of live EDM content include UMFTV, Tomorrowland TV, EDC Curated, and more. It has also become increasingly popular for smaller events to offer a live stream to those at home. Artists such as Jack Ü with their NYE blowout and Above & Beyond with the 100th episode of their Group Therapy show have streamed their shows via YouTube. After movies have also become a business of their own, with insane recaps from huge music festivals such as Ultra Music Festival or TomorrowWorld USA. Trailers and after movies are critical selling points as 63% of EDM fans say that they’re more likely to attend events from social media posts.
Snapchat is one of the newer social media platforms to be integrated into the EDM market. With over 4.6 million users, this social media platform is a quick stop for anything both music and non-music related. Festivals such as EDC Las Vegas have utilized the "My Story" feature as a way for attendees and those at home to connect even more. Snapchat also partnered with Insomniac this year in efforts to supply free Wi-Fi for festival attendees. Funk missionary GRiZ has been known to post various music production lessons and moombahton chief Dillon Francis always has a hilarious story. Alesso was the first electronic artist to premiere his music video for “Tear The Roof Up” via Snapchat. More recently, David Guetta took Snapchat one-step further by incorporating an interactive experience where your smartphone and computer screen sync in various parts of the music video.
Cover photo credit via Huffington Post