If you wanted to hear EDM a few years ago, then Ibiza was always the number one global destination for sun, sea, sand and songs. From Pete Tong to Fatboy Slim, it seemed that the Balearic beaches would hold the crown for the foreseeable future. That is, until the Vegas pool party scene took over.
Back in the late 2000s, a new breed of dance music superstar was beginning to appear, with DJs like Deadmau5, Calvin Harris and Avicii who took the EDM genre to the next level, in terms of both streams and sales, and created a new kind of image when it came to electronic music. Las Vegas, always famous for its gambling, dentistry conferences and matinee shows, suddenly became something of a hub for this new movement, with hundreds of new EDM festivals, concerts, and of course the now famous EDM pool party.
The EDM movement in Vegas has created yet another reason for tourists to flock to the city, with hundreds of live DJs and performers populating the gardens and outdoor areas of hotels during the day and the bars and nightclubs attached to them at night. It’s totally possible to watch a world class DJ on a Tuesday afternoon in Vegas, and the experience you’ll have there is pretty unbeatable. From the year-round incredible weather, lack of seasons that you’d find in Ibiza, along with 5-star hotels, incredible choices of food and drinks, and of course the biggest names on the EDM scene, it makes absolute sense to book Las Vegas as a party destination if you’ve got the cash, or are close by.
So what about the rest of Las Vegas? Well, it’s not quite the death of the city, but other entertainment industries could be feeling the pinch. The world-famous shows, particularly residencies, will likely attract a different crowd to that you’d find at an EDM show, but with more musical choice, contemporary acts may be losing out on tickets sales with a higher number of live acts in town, but in reality, there’s plenty of visitors who don’t want to listen to EDM who come to the Vegas. The biggest losers are most likely the casinos.
It’s no secret that Las Vegas casinos, and in fact most land-based casinos in other parts of the world, are down on visitor numbers, with more reasons than you’d imagine, and in Vegas, EDM could be contributing to this in a few ways. As mentioned earlier, EDM parties in Vegas are some of the best because of the fantastic weather. Dancing and listening to the music in the sun is great fun, and promoters know that it’s an easy way to make money. This is problematic for casinos in a couple of ways. Granted, there’s money coming in from the flocks of guests heading to the hotel pool and buying drinks, but they aren’t actually venturing inside the casino, where the real money is made. The countless slot machines and table games found on the casino floor is where casinos generate the vast majority of their profit, and crowds of people staying out in the sunshine isn’t good for business.
Then there’s the demographics (without stereotyping) of the kind of people who go to EDM parties in Vegas. Drinking and dancing (and sometimes drugs, or not) are likely to be way higher on the list for electronic music fans, with gambling maybe seen as a side activity or something to do between on the trip between the bathroom and the pool. Instead of dedicated gamblers turning up to throw several thousand dollars into the casino coffers, EDM fans may only bring a couple of hundred dollars or so.
Then there’s online gambling to contend with. Online gambling is a pressure point for many ‘casino only’ brands, and the appeal in the ease of being able to gamble from a smartphone is certainly causing concern in other parts of the world. In the UK, which has an accessible online gaming industry just like the state of Nevada, online casinos have snapped up a third of the market share, creating a gambling culture that is more digital than ever before. Although the many US states don’t allow online gambling at all, Nevada certainly does, and playing a game of poker or gambling on a slot machine while relaxing by the pool is a very real occurrence. Naturally, the easy solution here is for physical casinos to simply create their own website or app, but it’s not that straightforward. Developing an app and gaining the trust to host a full scale game of Texas Hold’Em can take a long time. The online gambling world is competitive, and it takes a very special website and service to attract players away from both the competition and physical casinos.
The future of EDM music is, like a lot of other genres, prone to the rapidly changing music preferences that dictate how money is made in the modern music industry. The current status of Las Vegas as EDM central could change, with the next big Ibiza, Anjuna Beach or indeed Vegas potentially popping up somewhere else. Naturally, there’s still going to be plenty of demand for live music in Vegas, and the party capital of the US will always attract hedonists. What they go there to listen to however is totally down to new trends and the fickle nature of ‘the next generation’ of music fans.
For the casinos, the message is pretty simple; adapt or disappear. Like Blockbuster and traditional taxi services, not adapting to new customers is a recipe for disaster. If that means moving machines and tables into the pool area, building an online gambling platform or throwing more EDM parties closer to the tables, then this is where the attention needs to be focused.