“In the United States, nine million have fallen in love with electronic music over the last year–a massive increase. The grand total is now 73.8 million dance fans. It’s immense.” – David Boyle, EMI Worldwide
Not many know that Australia is home to the third largest music market in the world. Australia produces more festivals per capita than any other country, with over 750,000 Australians attending music festivals every year, generating over $75 million annually. Australian artists such as Tommy Trash, NERVO, and Dirty South have achieved international recognition and are headlining clubs and festivals around the globe.
On November 27th and 28th, the gorgeous Sydney Harbor played host to the Electronic Music Conference, the first and only conference of its type in the Asia-Pacific region. After the recent explosion of electronic music gave rise to conferences like EDMbiz in Vegas and the International Music Summit in Ibiza, Australia’s leading independent marketing and publishing group, Sound Alliance, decided it was time that Australia began to host its own.
Dance music juggernaut Tiesto (pictured above) began the first day of EMC with a 45-minute chat with Melbourne DJ Grant Smile. He revealed that he moved out of trance because he “just started liking other music more.” Some fans stuck with him through the transition, others left, but most importantly, new ones came. When asked how he makes his business decisions, he explained that they are based on relationships and how eager someone is willing to work with him. And speaking of work, Tiesto employs 35 full time employees. Near the end of his interview, he revealed that he’ll “probably never do another residency. I’ve been doing weeklies for 10 years now and I’m tired; it’s time for me to slow down.”
David Boyle (pictured above), senior vice president of EMI Worldwide, took the stage at EMC to answer the multi-million dollar question, “just how popular is dance music?” Electronic music now ranks third worldwide behind pop and rock, and for the first time in the United States, electronic music can be considered mainstream as it surpasses country and urban in popularity. Boyle explained, “in the United States, nine million have fallen in love with electronic music over the last year–a massive increase. The grand total is now 73.8 million dance fans. It’s immense.” However, Boyle continued to explain that electronic music has “miles to go” before it can complete with rock or pop.
Laidback Luke, Triple J’s Nina Las Vegas and Australian DJs Goodwill and Sam la More (pictured below) spoke on a panel to address one of the more recent debates with a panel titled “Beyond Button-Pushing: What Makes a DJ?” Laidback Luke kicked it off by responding to Deadmau5′ recent argument that DJs do nothing but push buttons. “I was very blunt with [Deadmau5]. It’s basically like saying that sex is just an up and down motion without naming the magic of it. Trying to explain what we do is silly.”
But as Laidback Luke reminded the audience that he’s “just here to keep the art of DJing alive,” he shared just how different it is coming up as a DJ today. “I was DJing after Alesso about six months ago, and he was nervous. 50,000 people were standing in front of him, and Alesso says, ‘Dude, I can’t do this, I’m so nervous; how can you cope?’ And I asked: ‘I’ve been doing this for 15 years. How about you?’ And he’s said, ‘I’ve only been DJing for eight months now.’ When I was DJing for eight months, I couldn’t even hold the needle straight. Kids are literally thrown onto a festival stage and it’s actually really scary.” Luke finished off with a major tip for all aspiring DJs. “Young DJs should be able to do everything: open a show, do tricks, learn scratching, lock into the crowd. Basically everything.”
Tommy Trash joined Diplo, Nina Kraviz, Matt Stafford of the Stafford Brothers and MaRLo to cover the controversial subject of ghostwriting. MaRLo spoke first–“it happens because people might want to speed up their career.” He continued, “they might have an idea that’s really great and they need help to develop it. But on the other hand, if you didn’t come out with the original idea at all, and someone else is making your music, what part do you play?”
Diplo, recently nominated for a Grammy for “Producer of the Year,” had a different take. “I think the fans don’t care. With DJs, it’s more about their personality.” He continued, “I wrote a record for Chris Brown. He didn’t write any of it, but it’s his record. It’s what we do with pop acts. It’s the same thing with DJs. What really matters is if the artist is genuine. It’s not like there’s a war between the ones who write records and the ones who don’t. I produced Climax for Usher, there were eight writers on that, and what matters is if the music is great.” Tommy Trash gave a positive take. “For people who are not as strong at producing, they get in extra work. But a lot of these people getting ghost producers know exactly what they want.” When asked if he’s ever ghost produced, Tommy Trash replied “I’m not allowed to say–confidentiality and all that.”
Gary Richards (pictured above), stage name Destructo and CEO of HARD Events, joined Tommy Trash and Dillon Francis to speak on the boom of electronic music in the United States. The panel explained that what’s different today then a decade ago is the advent of the Internet–music fans don’t need to depend on MTV or a radio to be exposed to new music. Also, with the amount of money going into research and development of production technology, electronic music has never been easier to create. While Dillon Francis assured that “[EDM] is safe. I’m here,” Richards hammered it home by stating, “dance music is definitely here to stay.”
To watch a video of any of the panels, head over to the EMC YouTube page in the coming days as each session is uploaded.