If looking for that pop-crossover, indie-to-mainstream success as a producer of electronic dance music, 2014 may be the year wherein the recipe to achieve immediate and major success is more defined than ever before. Sea change is afoot. In the past week, Martin Garrix has signed with Scooter Braun, Tiesto has agreed to release an album with Universal Records, and Porter Robinson has signed an artist deal with Astralwerks. As wonderful as all of these signings are for these very deserving DJs and producers, rap music and sounds representing traditionally marginalized cultures (none of which are represented in any of these signings) are at the core of the global zeitgeist. If this weren't the journalism industry - but say, the game of firing shots - I'd say that mainstream music was trying to run an end around on the zeitgeist and trying to shift the focus of the game back to a) something closer to what they know and b) something they certainly can control.
However, there are a few facts that would show that what was independent, underground and representative of a cultural, social and/or racial minority is growing in control and ready for achieving the pinnacle of EDM success. As much as the earlier discussed signings have garnered headlines, by comparison, very few people are discussing Flosstradamus' forthcoming artist album for Ultra Records, Waka Flocka's "EDM" album, and the fact that Danny Brown - a Detroit-based rapper as influenced by techno as he is by Eminem - is signed to Fool's Gold and grows by the day as an artist gaining mainstream cosigns. Plus, Diplo earned a reported $16 million in 2012, and given his level of ubiquitousness in 2013, could easily be a higher ranking DJ (with scads more cultural influence in Generation Y and Z than anyone else) on the Forbes list. In Diplo's social capital wealth being arguably twice as much as his gross worth, he (as well as Fool's Gold exec and legendary DJ A-Trak) has a trajectory that could portend for enormous dividends. Now that a platform exists and opportunities for access are greater than ever before, it's entirely possible that an artist, DJ, or producer in the right place at the right time could easily hit the next level without a significant amount of effort (as compared to the blood, sweat, and tears of their forbears). In this being the case, some of the sounds that represent the recipe for this revolution should be revealed and examined, and their potential for the mainstream explored.
The key here isn't so much though that these sounds directly represent the styles that will lead to mainstream success. Rather, this isn't so much the case at all. With producers entering into the game at a higher number than ever before, the desire to be unique is arguably at an all-time high. The point can easily be made then that in order for a producer to stand out amid a sea of sounds, that possibly inventing entirely new genres or becoming a fanatic for anti-genre movements makes sense. Ultimately, in democratizing the playing field and socializing EDM production, 1% of fan support could feasibly lead to a producer winning everything in terms of commercial and/or social success.
The one flaw with such logic is that as much as the DJ or producer controls the fans of dance music, the ability of the fans/consumers to understand and respect exactly what is happening is important as well. Thus, there may be some worth in still maintaining genre names.DAD's own DJ Nappy explains: "Mastery of genres should be something that everyone aspires to. Full understanding of music, its' history, and its' personality traits are important in order to figure out what one is drawn towards and the roots that truly inspired the scenes that we have today. I'm of the opinion that people that don't love genres either hate the business end of things and just want all music to get an equal chance, or simply don't know what they're talking about and hate sounding foolish. Electronic music is new to the masses, and catching up on decades of history is overwhelming (and probably not what they have any interest in doing). But that history is the backbone for our scene, and exactly why there needs to be separation."
Thus, this article will serve the point of maintaining history, while also knowing that so much of EDM these days is ignorant, stupid, and frustrating. In order to best deconstruct an object, knowing how to put it back together again, but not doing so, gives power to that deconstruction. Genres are important. These are likely the genres that for dance's growing in prominence minority should mean the most.Click to start the list