The monster that has become Electronic Dance Music is an anomaly in the history of the music industry. This week, Wall Street veteran John Langdon and his company, Massive Advisors LLC, projected the EDM market as a “$15.0 to $20.0 billion global industry, with the major players in the global festival market achieving $4.5 billion in sales for 2012.” Since the recording industry was humbled over a decade ago by Sean Fanning and peer-to-peer file sharing, the “traditional” route for artists has changed dramatically, as have the bottom lines of most labels and artists.
The surprising thing about Langdon’s report is that, “The findings of the Massive White Paper show the EDM industry still is often completely ignored or misunderstood by governments and businesses worldwide — from traditional music distributors, to apparel brands, to acoustics manufacturers.” Turn on your radio. There is definitely a rock station, a hip-hop station, an oldies station, etc. I have yet to see an EDM-dedicated radio station, at least here in the Midwest. EDM is simply the first genre to emerge (or, re-emerge) in the aftermath of Napster, as technology slowly encapsulates our daily lives. EDM lives on the internet. Sites like Beatport have blown up by catering to EDM artists and fans. The best way for artists to make money these days is performing, and perhaps nowhere else in the music landscape are artists paid so much for seemingly doing so little.
An artist with a band has to split whatever he makes with everyone he performed with, plus the money to move the equipment from place to place. In contrast, EDM artists rarely need more than a computer, assorted electronic equipment, a place to stand and enormous speakers, and they get paid like kings. Earlier this month we posted a Forbes report of the top paid DJs in 2013. 23 year old Avicii, who has yet to release a full-length studio album, pulls in $20 million a year while Calvin Harris, who commands upwards of $200,000 for a performance raked in nearly half a billion dollars himself. As the genre continues to grow, it will be interesting to see if the bubble pops. Until then, dance on.