What Does The Future Hold For EDM In The US Market?

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David Ireland
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What Does The Future Hold For EDM In The US Market?

Musical trends have notoriously followed a seven-year life cycle before they cool out and get replaced by the next big thing, that was the former next big thing maybe fourteen years prior. In roughly 28 years, we have flowed from synth pop to hip hop to indie rock to pop hop and now to EDM. As many of you know the genre of electronic dance music, previously dubbed "electronica" (that still makes me cringe) is not all that new in the US, it's just a lot more popular this time around.

What we considered to be "massives" back in the early 00's are dwarfed by today's 100k+ festivals like EDC and what was underground rave culture has become or is becoming, mainstream pop culture. Like it or not, we are overground in a big way but what does that mean for the music in general? Will it be a huge Disco splat like in the late 70's leaving a permanent mark on the genre? We seem to be in year 5 of this current EDM trend cycle if all my instruments (cyrstal ball mainly) are working correctly.

The future of electronic music has been a hot topic of debate for many working in this new limelight of EDM glory, how long is it going to last and what happens next as the hype cycle comes to a close? I'm going to make an educated guess, one that is based on the rise of hip-hop and the commercial success of electronic music over in Europe during the mid to late 90s. That's right, it only took the US 20 years to get electronic music.

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So we are pretty much at the threshold in regards to big electronic music festivals, for the most part anyway. I think there is still a decent amount of growth to be had in the secondary and tertiary markets of the US, but we are almost there. Once we hit that plateau, we are going to see the first signs of backlash for the same old "big room" types of artists that are not pushing the envelope anymore.

First you will see some of the secondary festivals start to close up shop, only the established brands will survive and the rest will head to that big disco ball in the sky, then the smaller media shops will close up shop, record labels, management companies, etc. We will see one last surge of consolidation in the industry and that will be it for a while.

The money will still be good, the festivals will still exist, but all the growth is going to be in the nightclub sector, not the festivals. We saw this in the UK and even in the US with the first wave of dance music culture, it went from big raves to clubs. Why?

It's simple, the audience just gets bored of so many festivals, so much "sameness" and they start looking for a more refined experience. The new fan becomes the more seasoned fan, with less time on their hands and more money in their pocket... they become what we used to call, Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals) now also called Yuckies or (Young Urban Creatives).

The sounds of today's super commercial EDM will continue in the genre of pure pop to some degree, but the return of the guitar is not far off or maybe it's going to be Hip Hop that makes its great comeback from its current pop coma status.

For the electronic music fan, it's going to be all about the clubs and the big club brands. After the rave scene sputtered out in the early 90s, the UK gave birth to brands like Gatecrasher, Renaissance, Fabric, Ministry of Sound, Cream and many other super club brands (most of which are gone).

We are about to see a repeat of this cycle in the US. Cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Miami have always had a decent club culture, and it's about to get even stronger with so many 25+-year-old EDM fans looking for a new roost.

We will also see a migration of "band wagon" fans toward other forms of music and entertainment, they were only showing up for the festivals because it's the cool thing to do, but many are not really hardcore fans and will move on as things progress.

EDM music won't have a fall from grace like Disco did, at least it doesn't seem like it will. The EDM genre, much like Hip Hop's first steps into the limelight, will eventually be solidified in the world of recognized genres. Rock, Country, Classical, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop, and EDM... strange to see it in there like that, but there's no doubt it that it belongs there and is here to stay.

Genres that will probably dip in popularity: Hardstyle, Bass, Trance, Big Room Techno, Trap and other less established genres.

Genres that will get stronger: House, Techno, Progressive, Drum & Bass and Chillout

Ok, bookmark this for June 2017 to come back and see if I was right.