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« Critical tech for musicians to take on the road | Main | Why Copyright Is Evil »
Wednesday
Jul252012

Electronic and Hip Hop Better Suited to The New Music Industry

Electronic Dance Music (EDM), and to a lesser extent Hip Hop, are much better poised to thrive in the new music industry than traditional bands (live guitarists, drummers, vocalists, etc). Lefsetz has been talking about this phenomenon for a while but it’s only been recently that the truth of his claims have become apparent.

Traditional bands have, and always will, exist. I’m not arguing that. What I am saying is that the environment for the new music industry is far more favorable towards electronic music than it is traditional bands. If we take equal amounts of each type of band, over time we’ll see more electronic groups for all of the reasons listed below.

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-Economics
   True, the cash outlay for a decent studio setup is much larger than buying a crappy guitar and combo amp. Much larger. But electronic music doesn’t need to rent out recording studios and engineers to put songs, all of that is part of the studio setup in the first place. Putting out a new single takes much less time and much less money for electronic music than it does traditional bands.

And as unfortunate as it is to say, the less people in the band the more everyone gets paid. The same $10,000 show fee will feed a DJ and two techs a whole lot better than a five-piece band each with their own roadies. Touring is expensive and isn’t always a good idea.

Low variable costs make a big difference. Profit is easier to come by for EDM and Hip Hop.

-Speed of Release
    EDM & Hip Hop artists put out many more singles than they do full-length albums. Less production time and more frequent releases keeps the artist in the fans’ mind more easily.

-Cross Promotion
   Within a large majority of traditional bands, cross pollination between members of different acts through split EPs and remixes is rare (except for the Mastdon / Feist split, which was excellent).

The exact opposite is true for EDM and Hip Hop. It’s hard to find a new single that doesn’t either have guest artists or remixes of the track.

Cross promotion is a fantastic way to get potential fans of your music to discover that they actually like your music as you’re essentially being endorsed by their current favorite artist. Hearing a new artist work with your favorite artist is even better than a friend’s recommendation since it’s coming from the source of your admiration. It wasn’t until I heard Nas spit on the track Classic that I even considered getting into him. Cross promotion is one of many reasons groups like Doomtree are able to out-hustle and out-last many unconnected artists.

Fans are to be shared, not hoarded.

-Less Gatekeepers
   Electronic music isn’t on mainstream radio yet it can sell out 30,000 person festivals. Electronic music, and to a lesser extent Hip Hop, grew up and thrives through the internet. Friends and bloggers pass music that resonates to one another, there’s not radio spots or billboards hawking the newest Deadmau5 album. The movement is fan-led.

-Electronic Music Is Built Around Giving Away Music for Free
   DJs have long since known that getting your track the spins it deserves is more important that making a few extra bucks. Fame comes from people knowing and loving your work. Albums sales, like retweets or “likes”, are indicators of fame, not the totality of fame. It’s much easier for these acts to survive with the “music as a commodity” reality of today than it is traditional bands simply because the architecture for EDM wasn’t built around album sales.

The album is marketing material for live performances now, not the primary product.

Which leads me to my next point.

-Cooler Shows
   Now I adore traditional music groups; they account for at least 80% of my listening. But Messhugah’s five piece crushing metal blast couldn’t compete with the spectacle of Skrillex riding a giant, smoke-spewing transformer in front of a throng of ten thousand fans dancing and drenched in the soft light of LED hula hoops.

Maybe I’m jaded from seeing so much live music, but if all a band does is stand on stage and play their album I feel ripped off. If I go to see a performance, I want to see a performer. It wasn’t really until I saw an electronic music show that I began to actually appreciate the genre.

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References (1)

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Reader Comments (11)

Totally agree. The 'new music industry' loves quantity over quality, at least afor the moment. the current electronic music that's charting in the uk right now is the very definition of this.
EDM has now crossed into the pop genre. Hard pressed to find many good guitar bands in the top 40.

July 25 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Kicks

I also agree with your opinion. In this generation Electronic and Hip Hop is popular than other Music.

I don't really agree with this. Yes, a hip-hop or alternative artist can put out music with a simple set-up but, think about it for a second.. Say he purchases $10,000 for a decent set-up. Okay, not bad, but, say if a 5 member band all puts in $10,000 for their set-up. Plus, five people marketing one band is far better than one guy doing it himself. Also, consider every kid and his mother who thinks they can rap or make dubstep and you'll calculate a very, very flooded market. So, I think this is a very poor argument.

July 25 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

Well, at least Adele had the <A HREF="http://www.billboard.com/news/adele-rules-2011-with-top-selling-album-1005784152.story">biggest selling album</A> of 2011.
Maybe there is hope for good music, after all.

July 25 | Unregistered CommenterHetal

Disagree on the cooler shows part. Electronic music shows to me for the most part are boring. No live instruments and just a dude up there mashing buttons most of the time

Plus they usually go way too late for me, where rock shows will be during the day/early evening when I'm actually able to stay awake. Maybe it's because I've been going to EDM shows for 10+ years that I'm jaded towards that...

Either way, I think a combo of both is what's going to be hot in the future. We shall see...

July 25 | Unregistered CommenterErik

Great article and I agree with it but I kinda wish you didn't bring Skrillex in the discussion.
I for one prefer a great band on stage with a good show over a dude and his laptop just jumping around and probably throwing cakes at the crowd like a retard. And I make mostly electronic music and am a part-time dj, probably that's why I'm kind of sick and bored of it all.

Have you seen AC/DC's new tour? If not just google it for images, you can't say all they do is stand on stage and play their album, I'm sure you wouldn't feel ripped off at their concert.

July 26 | Unregistered CommenterSergiu

I have to disagree with Todd's comment. Spending more money on equipment doesn't directly correlate with a better sound or concept. Take Skrillex for example. He is quoted to say "I made my first album in the laptop and put in on bandcamp" and from there he blew up across the internet.

July 26 | Unregistered CommenterGarf Richards

This is an interesting take on something I have been pondering lately: Now that the internet has given consumers access to a practically endless supply of music, won't the value of recorded music decline (as based on supply and demand economics)? There are too many wealthy and resourceful businesses to allow a world in which recorded music only serves as an advertisement for the revenues to be made off of live performances. Think of how much money the Black Eyed Peas have created for their label. Did you see their Super Bowl performance? In a world where you can at best hope to break even on recorded music, bands like the Black Eyed Peas would have 0 upside. I just don't believe that the majors will allow the market to become a place where success is based on actual talent.

Hey Derek,

I believe you have a point. It definitely feels that the barriers are lower into electronic music, simply because it's fashionable right now. But fashion has a great way of changing every decade or so. My knowledge of electronic music is limited, but there definitely is a clubbing scene that musicians and artists, even the top Hip Hop artists are trying to get in on, especially in Europe. They realise there is a lot of money to be made from this. Indie bands especially tend to be quite nichey, and unless you're a student, maybe in college or university, you probably don't catch on to the indie world.

I think a lot of rock bands have noticed the trend and are becoming more accessible to audiences that once considered heavy metal unfashionable, like Asking Alexandria who are doing something cool with the visual side of their performances (but go darker than my ears can tolerate), or Abandon All Ships who merge dubstep, dance/trance and some seriously heavy metal, let alone the screamo/growling stuff.

Plus, I think a lot of bands suffer from the Promiscuity Syndrome. When things don't explode after one EP, members leave and move on to find success elsewhere. It happens all the time. Where as, if you're a DJ by yourself, then you keep going until you find success or not. Single folks move quicker than groups can when testing things out. Bands win when they've got all their members on board, propelling the marketing side of things.

Thanks for the post, it's definitely something for both bands and solo artists to think about,

Gemma

August 1 | Unregistered CommenterGemma D Lou

Well other music has had it's own platform for many years. A tried and tested formula which is proving useless in today's time. The electronic genres were largely ignored by the "machine" operators that kept those old wheels in motion. Due to that fact, the electronic scene has discovered it's own ways of getting into the market place. An old example of this is the record pool system. So in short, yes, I agree. The underdog always finds a way through and the cycle will keep on going around. Now that electronic genres like house, dubstep, electro and hip hop are so commercial, I'm super keen to see what the future holds as the "underground" bubbles up with something new in the not too distant future.

Checkout another article I recently read on that matter here: http://triplefiremusic.com/the-uncommercialization-dance-music/

August 3 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Sullivan

Agreed that electronic music has definitely gained a lot of ground.
I have attended a Skrillex show...and it's true that it blows anything else I've seen out of the water.

People constantly want to hear new things. Of course, a lot of people who belong to the old paradigm will criticize the sound and authenticity...It's always been like that.

I think that creative musicians should always try to build off of each other. Always bring something new to the table...never stagnate.

August 20 | Unregistered CommenterCed

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