This summer has been a bit chaotic for the electronic music industry, we have seen corporate chaos and increased public scrutiny of big festivals because of the consistent fatalities. Now the other shoe that we have been anticipating to drop seemingly has but to what end?
The SFX train wreck is not a surprise to most of us industry veterans if not for any other reason than it was just simply too much too fast with more hype than due diligence. Robert Sillerman's admitted ignorance of the genre probably didn't help much either as dance music is its own culture entirely and hard to compare to anything else. The lesson here, always do your homework before invading.
As for the consequences of the SFX meltdown, it's very hard to say how that will all shake out. Will the companies buy themselves back? Will they be sold off to the highest bidder and die a slow death? Will it all correct? The promoters will probably rebound, but Beatport is most likely going to be the one that pays the biggest price and go lights out. We shall see, and I'm sure it will be in the next six months.
Is this a temporary slap on the wrist to appease the local politicians and play the proactive PR card?
Or is this the new normal that we are facing in the wake of a string of drug-related deaths? From a statistical point of view the decision to scale Day of the Dead down to 40K people, reduce operating hours and raise the age to 21 seems like it will work to some degree.
However on the flip side is the question of fairness, which in a case like this probably has no chance to even enter the debate. The politicians, law enforcement, emergency services and angry parents all want action, and it will not go away until people stop dying.
If festival goers keep perishing the noose will only get tighter until entering all festivals will be like going through TSA security lines at the airport and regulated with a Draconian iron fist. Hopefully, it will not come to that as it's just not the spirit of music culture of any kind.
One thing is for sure there is a huge need for more education about the toxic substances that are floating around these events and the consequences of taking untested substances.
We need a PSA like Truth was to Tobacco; those ads were hard to ignore and in my opinion worked well. I will always stand on the side of education over harsh regulation, unfortunately, most of the authorities won't. I think the "new normal" is ultimately in the hands of the patrons, and we just got our S.O.S. signal.