*This is the first of a series of editorials regarding the media's role in EDM
As it's been coined, The Great EDM Awakening of 2012 not only spawned America's mass acceptance of electronic dance music, but it also sparked a greater conversation about it. In dorm rooms across the country, people began digging and sharing music with their friends, and the novel idea came to the U.S. market to legitimize the sharing and creating its own international presence by forming blogs. Some came before 2012, some came after, but three publications have since dominated the national conversation: Dancing Astronaut, Your EDM and EDM.com.
This is great because it kept the conversation growing amongst dance music enthusiasts. Major music publications like Rolling Stone and SPIN circled around the dance floor wondering if it was safe to boogie, but ultimately the true authority on dance music came to be young entrepreneurs passionate about the music and ready to donate their time, money and energy towards seeing the scene flourish.
It was a rocky start, and out of these dorm rooms, we found super fans, not experienced writers. This is completely understandable because there was no precedent set for kids to gain experience in the EDM news sphere and not enough OG dance music writers to teach them (mainly because blogs don't competitively pay writers, and you get what you pay for). This was occurring at a time when print media was nose-diving and anyone with enough willpower could hop on Wordpress and call themselves a news journalist. They were making it up as they went along hoping to find their place in the realm of legitimate media and secured an infancy that said, "we're here, and we're crawling out the gate."
Getting started, these blogs had to work with the already-established public relations firms and management teams that were hired by artists. It is their job to protect the image of their clients, so they have a great interest in maintaining a positive conversation surrounding the artists. They're able to do this by taking advantage (not maliciously) of these young, inexperienced writers.
Picture this: you're a bright-eyed 19-year-old at some major festival writing for a blog and a huge artist's PR hits you up asking you to interview their client. You're elated with the opportunity to meet an idol and you agree. Only, you were never presented with a reason why you should be interviewing this artist. You've fallen for the classic "interview for the sake of an interview" marketing tactic.
The PR is stoked because their client's name is back up in the headlines. The writer is stoked because they got to meet a hero. The blog gets to tout a close relationship with the performer, and the audience gets fucked because no progressive insightful information came out of the experience. How many times do we really need to hear how XYZ DJ got their start and what they are planning for the future? It's promotion. It's advertisement. It's not journalism.
This made sense to get the ball rolling, but with Your EDM and EDM.com obtaining over a million 'likes' on Facebook (more than most artists), we're not babies anymore. Blogs need to realize that they can live without PR feeding them carrot sticks, and it's time we make own meals. It's time to grow some pubes and become the rebellious teenager that doesn't prescribe to what (s)he is told to do but tests the boundaries to see where they truly lie.
Revered publications aren't merely tools for advertising and promoting. They are bullhorns that incite curiosity, question motives and expose truths. Bottom line, you hardly know your favorite DJ through your online and on-stage relationship with them. What you know is what they want you to know. A handful of them are complete assholes. Some of them don't even live the party/girls/pizza lifestyle you've come to believe in.
It's fine if you don't care and just want to hear the music. That is your choice, however, you don't deserve to be lied to, and the whole point of journalism is to provide accurate information so the audience can make educated choices on how to interact with their environment. Once deceit becomes acceptable, then a DJ becomes nothing but an image and can build a career around purchased tracks made by skilled musicians behind closed doors....oh, wait.
I've been EDM.com's editor in chief since New Years Day 2015, and I could easily make some prophetic statement like we're going to "change the game" similar to the ones bedroom producers make every full moon, but I'm not that naive.
The conversation I'd like to have with you, the audience, and the culture I am developing with my staff is not one of ego. I really don't care if I ever get to meet Skrillex. All I care about is using the finite amount of energy awarded to me in this lifetime to leave the earth in a more progressive state than what I was born into. I didn't get in this to hang out backstage. I got into this because the emotive power of music has saved my life on numerous occasions, and I owe it everything I have. Sadly, the only things I have are perception, a creative writing degree from a public university and student loan debt.
So that is what I offer you, and I encourage anyone with a passion for integrity, education, and literary eloquence to come find me. There are plenty of passionate music "writers" out there, but not enough rogue detectives.