Dancing Across America: How EDM Conquered the States
The history with EDM in America has been interesting. When the genre exploded in Europe during the 1990s, the good old U.S. of A was more standoffish. Sure, there were excellent rave culture venues in all major cities, but the American record industry was often openly hostile to EDM. Increasingly, the genre grew to become a major musical movement in the USA around the turn of the century and in the 2010s is really becoming a significant influencer of pop music.
In many ways, the online world has helped to spur this growth. Like it has with many industries (retail, online betting such NetBet roulette, gaming, and music as a whole), the internet provided a platform for EDM artists to reach audiences in America by bypassing radio.
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It’s easy to think that America is the center of the music industry because its own exports are so influential around the world, especially in pop. However, in terms of EDM, we saw a situation where the rest of the world was wise to a major movement and the U.S. largely rejected it.
After 20 years, that’s no longer the case and EDM is now big business in the country. For someone who lived through the 90s electronic dance music scene in Europe, and (fully) embraced it, there is something amusing about seeing Americans finally see the music and related culture hit the mainstream. Teenagers grabbing the excess of the genre, explosive clothes, rock star DJs, we’ve seen it all before in Europe.
Whereas Europeans tend to embrace the underground, America typically likes things to be more sanitized. In many ways, EDM only became massive in the States when it underwent a marketing rebranding in the country. Gatherings are not called “raves” but are now called festivals and even EDM sounds like it was passed through a panel of marketers who rejected the terms “techno” and “house”.
The biggest of those events is the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), a gathering of around half a million people all descending for a major rave (ahem, festival). Held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway over a weekend in May, EDC is not majorly different from major EDM festivals that have been held in Europe for decades, but for the US market is remains a major phenomenon.
Part of the reason EDM took so long to hit the mainstream in the U.S. is the fact America’s musical landscape is so heavily tilted towards pop music. If Madonna released a song with EDM beats in the late 1990s it would be a surefire hit, but a European DJ removing the pop and going full dance… no chance (yes, there were exceptions).
Fast forward to 2019, and nine years after Electric Daisy Carnival started, DJs are now treated like rock stars. America’s relationship with EDM has always been strange, with plenty of ups and downs. Has the country finally embraced the genre or is this just another of those highs with a low yet to come?