Has EDM Mixed Itself Into a Gimmick? (Op-Ed)

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Has EDM Mixed Itself Into a Gimmick? (Op-Ed)

Opinion Editorial

Electronic Dance Music has been around for a long time, a lot longer than most people think actually. Pretty much from disco onward dance music has been electronically produced and driven by DJs who perform it by mixing songs or “tracks” together. Sometimes three or four at a time if you are really kick ass.

Ever since Larry Levan decided to put two records together to create a seamless dancefloor journey at NYC’s Paradise Garage, we have been under the spell of this music with repetitive beats.

As disco fractured into many different things, including house, electronic music as we know it now really started to take shape. It was all about the music grabbing you and pushing you to keep grooving until you just couldn’t do it anymore.

Aside from some disco balls and lighting rigs, DJ culture and electronic dance music were driven purely by the skills of the DJ and how he/she could lay down the mix and capture the audience. If the DJ sucked, the floor stopped moving. Simple. No bullshit.

The question we pose today is this: are we heading in the wrong direction?

EDM is not a bad acronym. We’ve learned to accept it as the umbrella term that it is, but what it symbolizes is unfortunately entirely different to many people.

EDM to many electronic music veterans/fans means lots of newbies riding the bandwagon, DJs that are more or less frauds (can’t mix and/or have ghost producers), huge LED screens and pretty awful music.

Not all the music is bad, so we think it’s unfair to make a blanket statement about it. What the music is really, is unoriginal. It’s amazing how many tracks sound almost exactly the same, often biting other producers bar-for-bar on their basslines, samples, loops, etc.

It’s a simple formula, a DJ/producer has a hit and then 1,000 other DJ/producers bite his/her sound and pretty much drive it into the ground. This has become such an epidemic that the already fast pace of dance music has almost turned on itself… essentially eating itself. Cannibalism.

A successful single has a two-week life span, and if it’s really lucky it might make it four weeks - the lifespan of the common housefly. So yeah, dance music has become more fleeting and disposable than ever before in history. Is there just too much? Hard to say but it’s forever changed the way the game is played, that’s for sure.

Another thing that EDM artists rely on heavily now are huge LED light shows, fireworks, lasers, dancers, dancing robots, cakes, etc. We get it, light shows are cool but that seems to be really what consumers are paying for these days… huge light shows and not DJs. Most the DJs are literally doing nothing when they are performing at festivals or big shows, as their mix is already programmed into the light show. The DJ’s set is chosen and mixed before he/she even takes the decks. Is that really DJing anymore?

All good if you enjoy it, but it’s just important for you the consumer to know what you are paying for. It’s a light show and a brand, not a DJ performance. And you are paying a LOT for it.

We guess the question is, what do you want from your expereience? If you stripped away all the bullshit, took away the sync buttons and put most of these “superstar” DJs head-to-head in a dark club with real seasoned veterans, they would get destroyed like the Broncos in last years super bowl.

Most of these guys aren’t even really good DJs or DJs at all, they are just juke boxes with big light shows. Hell, why be a good DJ when you don’t have to be? If we could get paid 70k to stand around, pump our fists, make heart shapes, drink top shelf booze and travel the world we’d probably go for it too.

Sooner or later much of today’s audience is going to realize, just like the Emperor and his new clothes, that they are indeed standing naked and the hustlers have made off with their money.

On a positive note. It is exciting to see a vibrant underground scene bubbling up at an incredibly fast rate with more original music cracking through. Once these new fans have an experience with a really talented DJ there is no going back to the fast food, you are hooked on the good stuff.

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