For years now, Play Me Records founder Reid Speed has been an undeniable force in the world of heavy electronic music. Known primarily for her work in the fields of drum and bass and dubstep, but never one to shy away from a manifold of different sounds, she has become a pioneer in dance music since the mid 90's. She has never looked back since then, eventually forming the Play Me brand and releasing no shortage of cutting edge music on her own.
In a recently resurfaced quote from a piece THUMP did entitled "Here's What 10 Old (School) DJs Think About EDM," Reid focused on how the underground culture was a safe haven for those who didn't fit into the mainstream culture. Obviously touching on her own personal experience, she goes on to speak about dance music now being populated by those same people she was trying to escape from.
Even as a younger face to the world of electronic music, my journey started around 2008. The same people that made fun of the music, events, and culture one year were asking "Are you going to EDC?" a few years later. That's what dance music going mainstream has done, and in a more recent post from Reid Speed's Facebook, she elaborates on the original quote, her experience and passion for the music, and the debate of underground vs. EDM.
She touches on ghost producers, marketing becoming the primary focus, and the role money has played in the new EDM world. All things are very relevant right now, and it's definitely worth thinking about from the perspective of someone who has been in the scene for 20 years. You can read her more recent perspective below, along with the powerful image that has been making its rounds.
From Reid Speed: "Woah didn't realize this went a little viral. Good to keep the discussion going, here's my expanded dollar & 50 cents on the subject, let me know what you think! Music is for everyone, but the unique thing we sought to create with dance music was a dark yet vibrant space where artists and punters alike were free to create and express their souls without judgement, a place to change the discussion, not regurgitate the same old (often negative and empty) stereotypes. The experience itself was the star, the magic happened in the symbiosis between DJ or artist and the dancers who came to create their own self-expressions in response to this flow of love. Only those who were really good - DJs, producers, and promoters- MAYBE got to profit off their talents (maybe not, but profit was never the motive). Only people doing real work got what little money there was. Sure, there were sketchy raves thrown by shady promoters whose lineups didn't deliver.
No underground is without flaw. But the majority of the scene was there for the pure joy and love the music brought us. Today, many a festival has traded this authentic experience for a commodity that can be purchased, consumed, and discarded with about as much thought as a we give a plastic water bottle. And sure, most underground cultures historically have been co-opted in similar manners. But the scene we built was not a corporate cash cow for an elite business class who profited handsomely at the expense of the skilled but less-well-marketed. It was a true supply and demand culture of talent and appreciation. I firmly believe real artists deserve to make a fair living off their art.
But when so much of "what sells" in EDM today is just marketing at work, and when what is being sold is often not even made by the person who collects the paycheck for maybe not even really playing the show, we have a serious disconnect at play. Do YOU really want that? Do YOU really want to see more ghost-produced button pushers winning because they have the biggest marketing budget? Or would you prefer to see authentic artists reaping the benefits of their talents? The choice is ours."