Is the EDM bubble going to burst? This is the topic of conversation in many music industry offices across the country. When does this “thing” slow down? Will it crash and burn or stick around? The answer is very uncertain but here is our best guess at what the future holds… buckle up.
Most of you are too young to remember disco, hell we are even too young to really remember disco, but there is a frightening allegory there that many think is destined to repeat itself.
Back in the early to mid ‘70s, disco was really a kind of underground dance music (for lack of a better term). It lived in hip metropolitan areas and the clubs were frequented by what was considered to be “counter culture” types.
Eventually some white guy from the suburbs heard about it, wandered into a club and then told all his buddies. They invaded, loved the music and began destroying it with over consumption and bad dance moves. Saturday Night Fever hit, then the Muppets got involved and well, it all imploded in one of the biggest musical backlashes in recent history. They even blew up the fucking records at Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey park in Chicago in 1979. Irony is sweet here… seeing how Chicago brought it all back into the fold with house music. I digress…
Here we have this complete meltdown, hate mongering and really the death of the genre commercially, at least that’s what they thought. The Warehouse night club begins to emerge in late 70s Chicago, playing disco, and disco influenced styles (post Disco Demolition). House music is born, getting its name from The Warehouse, just shortened a bit. Disco doesn’t die, it just goes back underground and evolves.
The EDM Bubble?
Fast forward to present day, with the same pattern emerging in a sense. The acronym EDM has been coined and the genre has entered the mainstream as a “real” style of music. Before the EDM craze the only place you could really hear electronic music was at a handful of clubs and underground parties.
NOTE:EDM is an umbrella term that encompasses MANY sub genres. EDM itself is not a genre in and of itself… but that’s an entirely different article and it’s coming next.
Most of the new fans don’t know anything about the history of this music, they assume that Skrillex and deadmau5 invented this new thing called EDM. OK, that’s forgivable as we all have to start somewhere… But things explode, the USA finally gets hip to electronic music and we can’t get enough.
Is it moving too fast? Are we hurling through the 'festivalsphere' into a giant sun that looks like the Burning Man. What happens next?
Well good news is I don’t think things will turn out as nasty as they did with Disco, it’s a different era and politically things are just a lot more calm. The anti-disco rally cry was really a thinly veiled message of hate aimed at gay culture and minorities.
Early rave culture is founded in openness and freedom of expression, it was kind of like the 60s but far less political. It all just started with dancing and hanging out together, and those values still continue on for the most part (bros being the exception).
In a nutshell, the big room sound will get so formulaic and played out that everyone will become burned on it. People are going to get tired of paying big bucks to see the same old DJ, pretending to mix and play the top ten Beatport tunes that are synched to a pre-programed light show. Not necessarily a mass exodus, but it will have a significant impact on what we currently are seeing as EDM culture. I like to think we are still in phase one of a three phase growth cycle.
The true fans of the music will start to dig a little deeper and explore all of the amazing sub genres like deep house, techno, drum and bass, downtempo, etc. They will be older and craving a more sophisticated experience and the era of the “Clubs” will be upon us once again.
The festivals will slow down, and many will die off as they won’t have the audience anymore. The sub genres will begin to rule the landscape and dance music will dip a toe back into the underground and take its place next to hip hop as a proper genre of music that has paid its dues, earned its stripes, cliché, cliché.
So that’s the crystal ball report for you. We don’t go out like the Hindenburg, but there will be some backlash and a reckoning for some. Every genre goes through this- let's stay with the example of hip hop- five years ago it was pretty depressing but the good stuff is bubbling up once again.
In the end, it’s always good to remember that quality music always prevails, or at the very least stands the test of time.