EDM Goes Through Generational Takeover


EDM has been a “thing” since 2010. However, electronic music dates back to the post-disco era of the 1980s. The blossoming of young bedroom producers in the 2000s has overcrowded the scene with new faces, new sounds and new trends. The inclusion of these youngsters in the scene has given EDM the power to seduce high school and college aged people into a very liberal world. Although EDM may have taken a couple of hits this year with several deaths from overdose in Boston and New York, festival creation and attendance has skyrocketed since 2010. Hundreds of thousands of tickets sell out in a few minutes, sometimes even in seconds. On top of that, the electronic sound has found an ally in pop music. Many producers and DJs have lent a hand to pop artists like RIhanna or Lady GaGa and even rock bands like Korn and Linkin Park. Even the advertising and film industry have used EDM tracks during their features, most recently in Pixar’s smash hit Monsters University.

DJ Magazine, printed in the UK and known worldwide, has always done an important job in measuring the state of electronic music. Back in 1997 they started a poll that would name the world’s Top 100 DJs. 16 years later, the poll hasn’t only increased in awareness and participation, but also in controversy. Labeled as a “popularity” contest by veterans of the scene (producers and fans alike,) the poll has somehow lost its credibility. However, it’s fair to point out that DJ Mag only serves as a mediator, they aren’t the ones doing the voting or campaigning for artists; it’s all up to the artists that decide to promote themselves and the fans who would do anything for their idols. The poll isn’t meant to label the most gifted DJs or the ones with flawless production or mixing skills, it’s only there to show the world who the Top 100 most popular DJs are.

In the early days of the poll, now-legendary DJs like John Digweed, Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold and Sasha took the top spot. While nobody can take away their world class sets and artistic talent, the poll was still only known by a very specific niche. After 2001, only 3 DJs were crowned; Tiësto won 3 times in a row, Paul van Dyk won 2 times in a row and Armin van Buuren set a record with 4 consecutive wins. In 2011, DJ Mag finally caught up with the world of social networking and turned to Facebook to be the vehicle to sell the poll to people everywhere. That 1st year partnership gave David Guetta, the massive hit-maker, a top spot he had been fighting for a few years. That year also saw a very important change in genre relevance. Techno and House artists started to see a decline, while Dubstep, Electro House and Progressive House artists overcrowded the poll. The following year, the change was even more prominent, with Techno and House almost disappearing from the poll and Electro House and Progressive House gaining more momentum. On top of that, 2012 shifted the spotlight to Hardstyle, a genre that had been massive in Europe until then, but still remained underground or unknown in America. Another important thing that 2012 brought to the poll was the insertion of very young talents.

2013 has been a peak year for EDM. Massive trio Swedish House Mafia played their last shows ever, Daft Punk returned after a very long hiatus, festival attendance skyrocketed and the Electro House and Hardstyle sounds merged with Progressive House to populate Electronic song charts everywhere. Fans wanted bigger and louder drops and the producers gave it to them. The EDM sound had become somehow generic, but it managed to persuade more teenagers to join the hyped EDM community. However, this year’s poll stayed true to the trends from the past 2 years. Techno DJs were reduced to 3 and House DJs were nowhere to be found. Hardstyle, Electro House, Progressive House, Trance and Dubstep represented more than 90% of the selected artists. In addition, Dutch producer Hardwell took the top spot after a great year, becoming the youngest (25) ever DJ to take home the crown. This year showed the world that the quality and quantity of festival sets an artist can provide is key to being popular now. This is particularly true if you take notice of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s surprising 6th spot or the presence of Nicky Romero or Steve Aoki in the top 10. On the other hand artists like Zedd, Showtek, Andrew Rayel, Nervo, W&W found spots on the top 30 after constant festival performances and anthem productions. Deadmau5 and Skrillex (worked more with Dog Blood than solo this year) were slow on the festival side and it made them miss out on the top 10.

Overall, we can say that “EDM” has taken over electronic music culture. The younger generations are thirsty for distorted bass, massive drops and mind-blowing show productions, which is why veterans of the scene don’t gain attention from these youngsters because of the musical differences and the awareness differences of each genre. EDM lives happily alongside pop, hip hop and rock music, while Techno and House music remain part of the wiser dance-floors in Europe and in specific markets in America. Older or underground fans and producers have every right to express their opinion on the poll. but they can’t stop generational takeover from happening. Tastes change and music culture evolves, it’s all about finding happiness in reality. Underground fans should be happy for the exclusive environment of their scene and mainstream fans should enjoy the ride of their favorite artists’ performing very close to them in a very frequent way.

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