Dance music has had its ups and downs throughout the decades, from the birth of house music in the US to the rise and fall of subcultures such as Rave in the UK and Gabber in the Netherlands. It has always retained a strong following in Europe, but in recent years, the rest of the world has been (re)discovering dance music (also known as ‘EDM’). This time through superstar DJ’s and huge festivals attracting hundreds of thousands of dance music lovers.
Last week Amsterdam hosted the Amsterdam Dance Event, an important annual event focussed around the electronic dance music industry. This year the multifaceted, city-wide event was home to hundreds of parties and attracted over 365.000 partygoers as well as 5500 industry professionals, a considerable increase from respectively 350.000 and 5000 in 2014, reports Entertainment Business.
RISE IN POPULARITY
The increasing popularity of ADE reflects a global trend of increased interest in dance music festivals. According to Ticketmaster‘s latest report, dance music festivals in the UK have increased by 500% since 2000. Interestingly, this news comes after BBC Newsbeat’s report that almost half of UK nightclubs have closed permanently since 2005.
Across the pond, the US has seen an 80% increase in dance music festival attendance since 2007, according to Keplar Agency. Revered European EDM institutions such as Tomorrowland, Mysteryland and Defqon. 1 are rolling out events in North and South America. Hosting TomorrowWorld in Georgia and Mysteryland in New York, as well as Tomorrowland Brasil in São Paulo and Mysteryland and Defqon. 1 both in Chile. The global dance market grew 12% in 2014 and is expected to hit 7 billion euro next year, with North America alone representing roughly 29%. Keplar further reports that the top-20 global dance festivals hosted over 3.4 million attendees and live revenue alone was 4 billion euros in 2015. This is all very well, but what makes EDM festivals so popular?
AGE OF EXPERIENCE
Live Nation’s president of electronic music, James Barton, believes the high production value of dance festivals is what makes the difference: “First and foremost these festivals are just much more exciting. As a young person there is just so much more on offer at a major electronic show. People talk about DJs being the new rock stars, but they’ve gone past that. I’ve seen some of these guys produce shows at a level way beyond even successful rock stars. We are living in the ‘age of experience’, simply serving something up isn’t enough, the kids want more.”
The ‘age of experience’ indeed. For years now, dance music festivals have been at the forefront of creating experiences. Fans of the genre have high standards and a lust for new experiences, from Tomorrowland’s “wearable tech” wristbands, to Amsterdam Music Festival engaging over 300,000 fans worldwide with its live HD stream offerings and ‘3DM Festival‘, the world’s first 3D festival.
When it comes to accommodation experiences, EDM festivals are ahead of the curve. Tomorrowland’s groundbreaking DreamVille has become a world renowned accommodation experience over the last couple of years, offering homes away from home to thousands of guests in Belgium, the US and Brazil and Mysteryland’s Holy Ground campsite accommodates guests in branded tents and luxury lodges on Woodstock’s hallowed grounds.
ENGAGING WITH FANS
Vital to the success of any genre, event or festival, are its fans. According to Keplar’s research, many dance music lovers are digital natives, with fans tweeting 30% more about live experiences in comparison to fans of other genres, and 1 in 4 live attendees posting about dance musing on social media during a live event. Strong online engagement of EDM brands with fans can also be seen on YouTube, with the aftermovies of the likes of Tomorrowland, Mysteryland and Defqon. 1 easily reaching millions of views.
With millions around the world embracing the genre, live EDM events are on the way to becoming ubiquitous. Statistics show that EDM festivals are attracting a new generation of engaged fans looking for unique festival experiences, and it is up to festival organisers to to tap into this zeitgeist and drive innovative experiences that will help them stand out of the crowd, pun intended.