A lot has been made about EDM’s rise to prominence in the U.S., especially by us. Assertions about the genre’s popularity were previously observations of the cultural zeitgeist. Beiber going over a “dubstep” beat. Paris Hilton trying—and failing, in spectacular fashion—to DJ. The return of rave culture and all of the wonderful, sweaty gyrations that accompany the scene. In early June, however, there was another metric by which we could measure the success of many of EDM’s finest: Cash money.
CelebrityNetWorth.com came out with a list of the Top 30 richest DJs in the world earlier in June (seen right). Now, there are a couple of surprises on this list. For example, despite having a hand in producing two of 2011′s biggest hits in “Look At Me Now” and “Give Me Everything,” Afrojack somehow finds himself at the bottom of this list with a purported net worth of $2 million. Also, the list is lopsided in terms of seniority. The top fifteen earners, from The Chemical Brothers down to Tiësto at number 1, have mostly been in the game since the ’90s, with the arguable exception of David Guetta. The rest, however, are almost all young upstarts like Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, and Skrillex.
This list isn’t the full story either. No list of unfeeling numbers can capture the extent of the sweet life that many DJs live. Sure, always being on tour can be tough on one’s personal relationships. But these guys (and the list is all male, as it happens) are playing music for a living! The women, drugs, relative fame, and parties aren’t bad either.
But with this new information comes new comparisons. Fresh comparisons. Dope comparisons. Swag comparisons. You know where we’re going with this.
Forbes releases a number of music-earning lists annually and none carry the same weight as their installments covering the richest and top earning in Hip-Hop. There are two lists reflecting the amount of paper that the biggest in the rap game can throw around; Cash Kings: Hip-Hop’s Top Earners and The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest Artists.
Earlier this month, Paris Hilton made headlines by announcing plans to launch a career as a house music DJ. Saturday night, America’s
favorite most famous heiress took to the decks at the Pop Music Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil to play her first-ever DJ set. What resulted was a Top-40-heavy set filled with plenty of arm-flailing and off-beat hip-shaking… but not much mixing.
Hilton seemed to have put more effort into her wardrobe (featuring a pair of bedazzled headphones) than she did practicing for the gig. Approximately 11 seconds into the video, Paris accidentally speeds up the track before catching her mistake and awkwardly playing it off by waving a Brazilian flag. Every DJ can relate to accidentally nudging the most important control on the CD player (which happens to be located on the opposite side of the device as the rest of the controls)… but happening twice in one minute? For shame, Paris.
Perhaps the best point of the night came when Paris attempted to drop her new single “Last Night” (courtesy of producer and ex-boyfriend Afrojack.) It seems as though the plan was to play the song in full, before transitioning to “We Found Love” by Rihanna. Somehow Paris jumbled up her ‘Play’ buttons and the crowd was treated to an unintentional mash-up. Instead of attempting to fix the mistake, Paris just tossed her diamond-crusted headphones off and sang over the mess. Needless to say, the sound tech had to come on stage and fix her mistake before the all important drop. Really, really good stuff.
The music industry is undergoing one of the largest shifts in recent history. For the first time ever, the folks behind the mixing board are getting just as much recognition as the pop starlets singing over their beats. In a sense, hip hop was the first genre to bring the producer/writer to the forefront with the likes of Dr. Dre, Primo, and Kanye, but even still the MC was the focal point as lyrical content was the most important aspect of the style.
Now, it is the button-pushers, knob-twisters, and fader-flickers that have taken the reigns of the music industry. As EDM continues to rise in popularity, a new breed of rock star seems to be emerging. These are mostly guys who spent their childhoods taking apart computers instead of learning power chords. Gathering production techniques from dark corners of Internet music production forums, instead of making out with groupies in dark corners of the club. Up until a couple years ago, electronic music production was very much a bedroom hobby for most of the community. Occasionally, if you had some real talent and the right connections, one or two of your singles might be picked up by some obscure European label, and a stream of royalty checks may start showing up in your mailbox, but only if DJs decided your track was worth the purchase. But even this model still kept the DJ relegated to a booth hidden from the crowd, the maestro of the party, not the focal point. As EDM shifts and takes on a new identity in America, a country so deeply invested in our celebrities, it makes sense that the DJ/Producer has moved out of the booth and onto the stage. Because of this, producers who often never intended to leave the confines of their bedroom are being thrust on stage and asked to develop some sort of live performance for a genre that is largely dominated by playing pre-recorded songs over a PA system. While we’re sure Kaskade and Avicii would not claim any reluctance to their newfound stardom; it certainly comes with some bumps in the road.
Take Deadmau5, arguably the biggest star EDM has seen since Tiesto, for example. Deadmau5, a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman, kicked off the electro-progressive-house revolution long before every frat boy in America was womping to Skrillex.
But he got his start as a computer programmer and sound designer. Always having an attraction to EDM after attending some of the illegal ’90s era warehouse raves, he spent much of his free time on music production forums, adopting the handle DEADMAU5 after finding a dead mouse (literally) behind the fan of his computer tower (the ’5′ was a necessary reduction to stay within the 8 character limit imposed on many early forums). His infamous mau5head has given him and his music an instantly recognizable brand; rabid fan base not withheld, making him the wealthiest of the “new generation” of EDM stars.
When dance-music-titan Mixmag posted a story last night that supposedly outed many of the worlds top DJs for buying Facebook fans, they legitimized what was originally an ill-researched but rapidly spreading internet meme. The user generated picture points out that it is quite strange for David Guetta, Excision, Steve Aoki, Skrillex, Deadmau5, Avicii to be wildly popular in Mexico City and yet according to Mixmag, “at the time of writing, none [of the DJs] have events listed in the area.”
While the stats did seem a little off; fast forward a few hours and Excision has published an open note to his Facebook page in response. We think Excision does a pretty good job of clearing the air, but we’ll let you decide for yourself. Read on for his full response to the image and the Mixmag article.
The venerable Austin City Limits Music Festival announced their lineup yesterday. The festival, scheduled for the weekend of October 12th to the 15th, is happening a bit later than usual this year – no doubt to take advantage of the positive effects of global warming. Every year, the people who put on ACL make an effort to offer something for everyone and it looks like 2012 will be no different in that regard. Headliners at the festival, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and The Black Keys all promise a hard rockin’ grand old time. The lineup is rounded out with hipster favorites including Florence + The Machine and Oberhofer, hip-hoppers such as Childish Gambino and Big K.R.I.T., ACL regulars like Andrew Bird and Old 97s as well as a plethora of other bands that would just take too long to list here.
There are a few differences between this year’s lineup compared to years past. 2012 marks ACL’s most prominent acknowledgement yet of the electronic music scene, with AVICII, BASSNECTAR, and M83 all taking high-profile spots in their respective lineups. The 2012 installment of the festival also marks the 11th consecutive appearance from country group Asleep at the Wheel.
The full Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup can be seen here. Check out footage from last year’s outing below.
It’s a sign of the times; Universal Music Group announced a new addition to the family last week with the creation of dance-oriented imprint PM:AM Recordings. This isn’t the first time that Universal has tried to capitalize on pop music’s continued move to electronic textures and sonics. UMG shared in the runaway success of roster artist Avicii’s smash “Levels” in late 2011. And now there’s PM:AM Recordings.
UMG sounds pretty serious about making a bigger impression in the world of electronic music. “PM:AM Recordings is formed of a unique set-up combining the A&R talents of Universal bosses from around the world,” the label said in a statement regarding PM:AM’s launch. It continued on, saying that, “[e]ach record signed to the label will have been screened through some of the most acutely tuned ears in the business, and in turn each release will receive worldwide synchronicity.”
How this vetting process will shape the way hits are picked and developed remains to be seen. The real question is, how will Universal and the other majors wanting to dip their toes into the world of EDM fare against entrenched indie labels that have been in the game for years? The closest competition that PM:AM faces in terms of backing and scope comes from Ultra Records, home to heavies like Deadmau5, Calvin Harris, Above & Beyond, Benny Benassi and more. Ultra is also a standalone entity, the largest record label operating within a genre that has a rich independent tradition. Clear evidence of this is Beatport’s Top 100 chart. A quick glance at the chart reveals few recognizable names. There are a few labels that have cachet enough to be recognized by those with just a passing familiarity with EDM, such as the aforementioned Ultra and Deadmau5′s imprint mau5trap. There are other labels that would be quickly recognized by those who are well versed in contemporary electronic music, like Anjunadeep and Plasmapool. But then there are labels that don’t have much of an established presence outside of a Facebook page or a SoundCloud profile. Others, such as Doorn Records, exist solely as a means of releasing the content of a single artist (in this case, Sander Van Doorn).
Given this environment, it will be interesting to see what kind of impression that UMG, or any of the labels, will be able to leave in the electronic music landscape. There’s no doubt that PM:AM Recordings will find success. PM:AM will benefit from the best parts of working within a major label system: lots of money and promotional power. It’s also heartening to see a major label UMG give its full faith and support to a genre of music that is finally coming into its own in the mainstream after decades of bubbling just underneath the pop landscape’s perception. How this move will gel with the world of Top 40 isn’t in question. However, how this will effect the world of electronic music at large, the world of tastemaker DJs and vanity imprints, remains to be seen.
Insomniac Events has finally announced the long-awaited Electric Daisy Carnival New York City lineup. If you can take the day off, the newly added Friday, May 18th date (4pm- 11pm) will kick off the event, with top dogs Fatboy Slim, Armin van Buuren, and the YouTube/Beatport sensation Madeon. The remaining two days, Saturday and Sunday, will start at 12 pm and go until 11 pm. On Saturday, expect to see Avicii, Sebastian Ingrosso, legendary house music pioneer Carl Cox, and Steve Angello. Sunday will consist of a fantastic closing lineup, including acts such as Bassnectar, Afrojack, Nero, and Richie Hawtin. Click here to check out the full EDC NYC lineup.
On second thought, don’t.
That might have been what Justin Bieber was thinking in March when he found out he might be facing legal action for tweeting a fake phone number minus one digit to his 19 million Twitter followers, resulting in more than 1,000 phone calls being made to a man and a woman in Texas who threatened to take him to court. (The potential plaintiffs’ requests: an apology, concert tickets, free publicity and financial compensation for out-of-pocket expenses.)
It was a harmless enough prank, yes, but the next time Bieber tweets something, he might want to consider doing what so many pop stars are doing and tweeting it to someone who’s also famous—like his new BFF Carly Rae Jepsen, the recipient of several recent Bieber tweets, including one wishing a “happy easter” to his fellow Canadian and fellow Top 10 resident on Billboard’s Hot 100 (Bieber with “Boyfriend,” Jepsen with “Call Me Maybe”).
Who else is connecting on Twitter? “I love you, you cray,” Katy Perry tweeted on March 31 to Rihanna, who made news when she began “following” her ex Chris Brown on Twitter. Rihanna’s sometime collaborator Nicki Minaj had a brief war of words with Cher last November on Twitter over a third party’s misinterpretation of Minaj’s lyrics: “@cher did you know that b***h @NICKIMINAJ dissed you in her song DID IT ON EM.” Cher flipped. Minaj fans flipped, too, explaining that it was a “rap metaphor,” not a jab. Cher conceded defeat. Minaj offered, simply, “@Cher #stopit5.” Case closed.
Remember the days when R&B and hip hop was the sound of pop? From the ‘90s to the mid ‘00s, music’s most dependable hitmakers—Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men, R. Kelly, Usher, Brandy, Monica, Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, among them—specialized in “crossover” soul, climbing both the R&B charts and the Hot 100 in tandem.
But lately, something strange has been happening on Billboard’s R&B /Hip-Hop Songs chart: A hit is no longer necessarily a hit. Just because a song is big in the R&B sphere doesn’t mean it’s big anywhere else. For the week ending April 7, 2012, only one song in the R&B/Hip-Hop Top 10—Tyga’s “Rack City”—had managed a comparable placing on the Hot 100.
The song at No. 1, Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” which had been there for multiple weeks, was way down at No. 54 on the Hot 100. (It briefly entered the Top 40 last September, debuting and peaking at No. 20 after Beyoncé performed it at the MTV Video Music Awards.) Meanwhile, there wasn’t a single R&B diva in the Top 40 aside from Janelle Monae, who got there by guest-singing on rock band fun.’s No. 1 hit “We Are Young.”
What happened to pop’s soul? There’s a disconnect between the pop and R&B charts that hasn’t been so pronounced since the days when Michael Jackson’s label, CBS Records, threatened to pull all of its artists from MTV if the then-fledgling network didn’t play Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video.