These past few years have been a whirlwind of shifts within the dance music community. From long standing clubs shutting down (like Pacha NYC), to the decline of big names such as Avicii or Tiesto and large scale festivals being cancelled (TomorrowWorld). As someone who migrated from Trance to the underground four years ago, I am not unfamiliar with the different crowds that run within each sub-genre. Different styles of music have made their way to the masses and the typical fan has become more investigative in their pursuit of musical satisfaction. Over the last six months, I have noticed some critical shifts in our dance-music circuit and this is how the culture is moving forward.
Bye-bye Big Room Clubs
In January, Pacha NYC, one of the largest electronic music clubs, closed it's doors for the last time. I won't say I was completely upset as it's not necessarily what I gravitate to, however it's still a big deal to the culture in NYC. Though Space, Marquee and Lavo still stand, their names aren't nearly as synonymous with NYC's club scene as Pacha was. In its place comes the area of Brooklyn, specifically Williamsburg and Bushwick, now dominating with the top clubs that deliver a quality musical experience. The "warehouse-style" venue is the new nightclub, especially with the opening of Flash Factory in NYC, which resembles an ominous dungeon style space. More fans seem to be moving away from the flashy lights, in search for a more authentic atmosphere.
Prices are Pushing Fans Away
Nothing is more discouraging then attending a music festival for three consecutive years and once it gets bought up by a major corporation (SFX... cough... cough), ticket prices almost double if not triple. Things get a little fancier with productions and they bring in bigger names, but crowds quadruple in size which logically should keep costs moderately affordable. Also, entrance fees for a club at $30-40? Why? I am already spending at least $12 for your ridiculously watered down drink. Cut my wallet some slack!
Nobody likes Corporate, Bring it Back to it's Roots
Nobody likes corporate, not you, not the artists and it definitely doesn't raise quality in music. Clear Channel and Live Nation are good examples of what happens when big money takes over the entertainment world. Then radio went to hell, now what was supposed to be the new revolution of music, got bought up and hyper monetized. Bada-bing-bada-boom.... no more music culture. Pop-up warehouse events, small underground parties, self-labeled and self-promoted artists, are all examples of the fight against corporate monetization. With that being said, money is what makes things happen and it might be difficult to say no to a Bacardi, Smirnoff or Heineken sponsorship.
We Want More Sun!
I live in New England and we can only have day parties during a small portion of the year, not to mention only for a short period of time (clubs can't stay open till 4am or later like the rest of the country...). Maybe it's because there is something about being out in the open and feeling the gentle breeze as you dance, but I have noticed that more fans want more open-air events. Give us the rooftops, give us the beach parties, hell, Brooklyn had the Mirage which was an open air warehouse. What's more perfect than watching a sunrise as you hear your favorite artist drop some dope beats? Not much, I can tell you that.
Fans are Evolving
This is the biggest change I have seen. Less people want EDM and headbangers as the underground community continues to grow. Techno and house artists have been coming more globally recognized and much more publicly discussed. It's definitely exciting to see names such as Maceo Plex or Detroit Swindle come through to a small city like Boston. DJ Sneak is even performing in a small town in Ohio. The demand for quality sound is growing as the fan base in electronic music evolves its taste. This seems to be a never ending cycle though, as the underground moves more into the spotlight, what's left to take it's place?
If Soundcloud, Beatport and digital royalty distribution got their acts together, I can see the music industry growing into a better future. One where the ability to reach fan-bases in all parts of the world can almost equalize financial distribution, versus only a select few artists holding the limelight. The amount of talent that's out there is vast and everyone can enjoy the spotlight if we approach this culture the right way moving forward. But that's only in an ideal world and it's difficult to know how all of this will pan out. We can only be sure of one thing, as long as there are people willing to dance, the music will never stop.
(Above photo by Bertrand Delgoff)