EDM Sells Out
It was bound to happen, hell it's been happening for the last five years, EDM has sold out. Like all genres that cross over to the mainstream, there is always a point when the brand sponsorship dollars start rolling in, and not many artists are going to say no, at least, their managers aren't anyway.
Is selling out such a bad thing these days? Do fans even care if Avicii does a Ralph Lauren ad or a Volvo commercial? Most mainstreamers probably don't, and that's really what we are talking about here is mainstream Electronic Dance Music isn't it. It's highly unlikely that you will see Richie Hawtin pushing Pepsi anytime soon, but Afrojack, that's another story.
Big brands paying attention to electronic music could be considered a good thing for a lot of reasons. First, it helps create more legitimacy for the music (in the mainstream) and pushes things forward in regards to festivals, tours, etc. When people are afraid of something or unfamiliar with it, they are less likely to support it or let it happen, just ask any early rave promoter that tried getting government permits back in the early 00s. A large beverage brand like 7-UP putting their name on a festival makes things a little more comfortable for the uninformed. "Oh, look dear it's crisp and refreshing, it must be ok!"
With that new found credibility promoters can throw bigger and better events with more acts, more sound, more everything really. The EDM ecosystem starts to thrive with these sponsorships and build infrastructure just like Hip Hop did in the late 90s and early 00's, solidifying the genre into the fabric of mainstream global culture.
Some people might feel the opposite about the invasion of corporate dollars; many think that it taints the scene and kills the spirit of what rave culture is all about. That point of view is also true to some degree, but the fact is the days of the warehouse parties are not over, they have just gone back underground far away from the mainstream "drop" fans.
The point here is that "selling out" is not the term it used to be, it's grown a little long in the tooth, and those teeth are dull. If you like an artist and that artist is pushing a product like say a vodka, are you really going to stop liking that artist? Probably not, unless that artist starts making music you don't like, which does happen so get used to it.
Consumers are a lot savvier than they used to be, especially the millennials and so are the DJs. Most DJs won't push brands they don't dig or products they don't believe in, which maybe harkens back to the rave roots. So is all this corporate dough really going to hurt dance music? Probably not.
Electronic Music evolves like a living organism, and it evolves quickly these days, you cut off its tail, and it grows right back.
Here is an interesting article that was published about a week ago in The Guardian in regards to brands coming into the EDM culture. The authors description of EDM is a little sad (see below), but otherwise, the article brings up some good points and interesting points of view from artists and brand representatives alike.
Excerpt and link below:
It’s easy to see why: EDM – a hybrid of house, dubstep and trance – trades in safe, inclusive, upbeat music that is played at extravagant live shows to vast crowds. - Description of EDM From The Guardian Article.
“I want to do the right thing for the industry, and I want to be part of it, but at the end of the day I’m a commercial entity, so I do want to sell some booze,” Matt Bruhn, Global Brand Director Smirnoff
And the brands played on: how EDM can sell almost anything
By James Hall / TheGuardian.com
In May, Volvo released a sleek four-minute advert for its new XC90 car. In it, a golden-locked Swedish man drove through dramatic landscapes soundtracked by a wistful cover version of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. But this wasn’t a normal ad. The driver was Avicii, the multi-millionaire EDM DJ, and the ad was in fact a music video. The Simone cover was his own track.
The collaboration has since been viewed almost 10m times on YouTube. And earlier this year Volvo’s chief executive Håkan Samuelsson announced that sales of the XC90 had “exceeded its expectations”, owing – one must assume, at least in part – to the 26-year-old megastar’s involvement.