It is no secret that there has been a sonic boom in the realm of EDM. Popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years and is now at an all-time high across the world. It seems like right now everyone wants a piece of the proverbial EDM pie and a lot of people are trying to capitalize on it while it’s hot.
Going along with the sudden massive popularity of the electronic music scene is the plunge into the mainstream, a topic of controversy among those within the EDM community. Some people are thrilled and proud of the rise to unparalleled success and this new widespread interest and appreciation for the music and culture. Others are disgruntled by it as it has brought along unwanted attention and a breaking of the imaginary barrier that separated the mainstream crowd from a crowd that has prided itself on being different, unique, and straying far from the norm.
Nowadays we are seeing more and more artists pioneering a movement to connect the once distant pop culture and electronic universes; a widespread group of people that not only enjoy the spotlight EDM has garnered recently but are also trying to create more and more bridges to forever keep the two worlds intact. It is a controversial tactic to say the least to a good portion in the EDM culture, but one that seems to be exploding at a massive rate and shows no signs of slowing down.
These “cross-over artists” are becoming more frequent with the growing esteem, and has led to two different factions trying to help maintain the mainstream-to-underground relationship: producers trying to break out, and artists trying to break in.
In the group of producers trying to break out, Steve Aoki is one of the main proprietors of this movement. His rising popularity across the world is no secret as he has become a well-known face of the electronic music community. He was one of the first artists to try and bring EDM to the forefront and his efforts have been continuous; he has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest names such as Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park, Will. I. Am, Lil Jon, Kid Ink, Iggy Azalea, and LMFAO.
Diplo is another one of these artists attempting to bridge the gap. The oft-in-the-spotlight producer recently teamed up with the most popular name in dubstep worldwide in Skrillex and has released a bevy of songs featuring some of the biggest names in the industry, including hits featuring two of the most controversially loved artists in Justin Bieber and 2 Chainz. He is also currently on tour with one of the biggest pop stars of all-time, Madonna, and laid a huge helping hand in the making of her latest album.
There is also David Guetta, who is possibly the most critical figure in bringing EDM out from the shadows and squarely into the spotlight. His albums are always strewn with celebrities, creating with the likes of Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Chris Brown, Flo Rida, and Akon. Guetta is seemingly always trying to be in the mix of what is popular at any given time, from his venture into more bluegrass sounds on his Listen album to his new endeavor into integrating trap music into his sets.
The list of producers trying to grasp firmly onto the newfound success is ongoing and becoming more extensive, including radio-friendly Calvin Harris, trance-to-pop/house converter Tiesto, hit-single try-hard Afrojack, and an increasingly-poppy Zedd.
Then you have the other group of cross-over artists, the ones trying to break in to the scene to either revitalize or recreate their musical identities.
Waka Flocka Flame was one of the original rappers to test the electronic waters, and has since become a major player in the trap world. His hyped up tone and vocals are unrivaled and have helped him not only create major waves in electronic music, releasing a rap-meets-EDM album, and has toured with both Aoki and as the second member of Flosstradamus for some of their shows last year.
There’s also names such as former Disney boy band member Joe Jonas turning his ear to EDM, Paris Hilton “spins” at major venues, and former NBA all-star Shaquille O’Neil is now performing at TomorrowWorld as DJ Diesel. Another Disney Channel star, Zac Efron, even recently starred in a movie about living the DJ life (which was an almost record-breaking flop).
The question at hand here is, is all of this exposure and new explorations into the mainstream and pop culture world a good or a bad thing for the scene as a whole? On one hand, more popularity and notice means more admiration and less negative misconception. On the other, it leads to greedy moguls trying to cash in while the going is hot and unwanted attention from the types of people who previously would look down upon those in the underground rave world.
The EDM community was originally created for the freaks, weirdos, and all-around different people of the world (all endearing terms in my eyes), and now the once miniscule world belonging to the creatures of the night and strobe lights has had its barriers demolished, and the swarm of masses have come charging in.
Everyone has their own opinion, so feel free to leave yours in the comments below on whether or not this newfound popularity is more positive or negative for EDM and its inhabitants.
From my first festival experience at Buku 2013 I have been a nonstop part of the EDM community and love every aspect of it. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and it's what I love to do, so music + writing is the perfect combination for me.