2015 has seen a really positive turn for dance music. Bottom line, is after the explosion in popularity that occurred over the last few years, it's growing up. Maybe that's because the scene itself has been popular for just long enough that it's found it's groove, or that a large chunk of the demographic is starting to move into a more responsible party mindset. Countless articles have been written about how it's the sound of our generation and the fastest growing music scene ever, and with all of that that comes so much creativity and passion being poured into the music.
Everyone always has to talk about the "EDM bubble" bursting, but we're past that. It's now infused into so many other styles of music and aspects of pop culture and commercials that it ceased to be contained within itself a long time ago. The bubble didn't burst. It just absorbed everything around it.
So what do we have in store for the upcoming year? In the spirit of counting down to the New Year, I'd like to share a countdown of ten of my thoughts. All of them can be tied to one thing: the continued growth and maturity of this music and the people who listen to it. We'll check back in with this list in December of 2016 and see how I did.
10. The Return of Daft Punk
If one thing is apparent about Daft Punk, it's that no one ever knows what the hell they're up to. Rumors are constantly circulating about the possibility of a new tour, and people either seem to be optimistically speculative or oddly upset about it.You can choose to go deep into how and when they've released albums and go on tours, and why the seemingly deliberate and methodical spacing falls in line with the intentionality that they pour into their music. Or you could focus on how they seem to be over touring in general, have a much greater interest in producing tracks for other artists or films, and generally are much more concerned in creating music for themselves, not for us.
Honestly, it could go either way. They pride themselves in being unpredictable and "never doing the same thing twice," so I'm calling it for two reasons. One, so that when it happens I can claim some sort of credit for saying I knew it was going to happen; and two, I want it to.
In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, Thomas said when they do go on tour, "it will be with a career-encompassing set list, not one overly focused on the new material." If Random Access Memories was meant to focus on their interest in the past and BBC just released a documentary that covers their sprawling career, signs could be pointing towards one more album and tour that bring everything together and sends us off into the future.
9. Tiesto ('s ghost producer) Will Go Back To Trance
This isn't going to be a permanent shift. No, this is something purely strategic. I spoke to an old collaborator of Tiesto's during the summer and he seemed extremely skeptical of the value of the trance-only festival Dreamstate merely because Tiesto's name appeared on the lineup (turns out it was a joke).
And you could understand the reaction. Even beyond the music he currently produces, Tiesto commented himself during a 2014 interview on how trance wasn't as relevant anymore, and "it doesn't feel like anyone really cares." But now, after the overwhelmingly positive response to Dreamstate (so much, that they had to add another date), the success of certain tracks like "Anahera," by Ferry Corsten's Gouryella alias, and the increasingly devout following of the "trance family," the genre seems to be finding it's footing again. And not one to miss out on following trends and "staying relevant," I think this is the year we'll hear some Elements of Life or In My Memory releases from Tiesto.
If you want a taste of some older Tiesto, listen to the second hour of his podcast sometime (provided you can find it anywhere). Every once in a while, it really surprises me.
8. Two Mainstage DJs Will Get Married
I'm kind of surprised this isn't more common. Hollywood actors and celebrities are always dating and getting married, I wonder why we don't see it more in the dance scene. Maybe it's because there's less intimate time spend on sets and more travelling involved in the music community. Sure we have Dani Deahl and Phives; Laidback Luke and Gina Turner; but they all seem to be few and far between.
A lot of these producers are dating/getting hitched to European models though, so I guess there's that. Maybe the DJ life isn't about settling down...
My money is on Dillon Francis and Diplo. Based on their Snapchats alone I'm pretty sure there's already special something going on.
[caption id="attachment_36789" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Relationship goals.[/caption]
7. We'll Get A Really Good Movie About The Scene
Not like the war crime that was We Are Your Friends. And not a documentary like the decent, but ultimately mislabeled commercial of Under The Electric Sky. This is an ensemble character piece, that accompanies a small group of friends and the people they meet at a festival as the night unfolds around them. This isn't a film that's looking to cash in on a trend, but something that accurately captures all the emotion, passion, and the spirit that surrounds the journey into the dance music scene. Something that really understands and digs into the why behind the importance of the community to the people inside of it. Hopefully it can can help our parents understand why we spend all of our money on this. We're shown how the scene goes beyond the party, and really finds focus on the sanctuary, the love, the heartbreak, the friendship, and the connection it brings you with total strangers.
Staring a bunch of unknowns and obviously featuring a killer soundtrack. Kaskade makes a really brief cameo appearance, ideally as a clueless fan. It'll likely be produced as an underground film, debut at Sundance, and exceed all expectations. The reason I say this is because it would have to be produced by someone who "gets it," and Hollywould clearly doesn't. DJ Harvey once weighed in on the subject:
"I think it would be extremely boring. I don’t know, many people have asked, but would you really want to spend half your life in corridors? I mean…there are moments of rock & roll greatness I suppose, things that journalists thrive on, but the problem with nightlife is that you cannot document it because it goes on inside people heads, so its impossible to really grasp because it’s only as real as a dream and no one’s figured out how to film a dream yet."
6. Drug Testing At Festivals
And I'm not talking about the kind that overprotective parents impose on their kids or that annoying 30 day detox period you have to endure whenever starting a new job. I'm talking about free stations at festivals that will test your drugs for you to make sure that you're taking what you think you are.
I think this might be pretty scattered at first, and will probably only happen in the later half of the year. A lot of promoters and venue owners are really averse to even admitting that drug use occurs anywhere, let alone inside their festivals. And yes, absolutely we are responsible for ourselves and we are responsible for each other, but that doesn't mean the issue can be ignored.
Organizers are worried for insurance reasons, sure, but it's obvious that just saying no isn't working. It's not stopping people from sneaking drugs in and it's not stopping people from dying. You have a rapidly growing population of young people who are uneducated and scared to ask any questions, so instead of doing anything about it, people just turn their heads.. I get it. No one wants to be the first. But all it takes is one trailblazer to set the trend, and another to start a movement. This can be the year.
[caption id="attachment_36791" align="aligncenter" width="669"] Okay, don't do drugs, obviously. But if you are going to do drugs TEST YOUR DRUGS.[/caption]
With Shambala already providing testing (granted it's on private land), medical professionals pleading for it to be instituted, DanceSafe strengthening it's hold, and many festivals having some sort of physical/emotional support crew to keep people safe (USC's Conscious Crew, Insomniac's Ground Control), it's really only a matter of time before the next logical step is taken.
Insomniac, I think you can take the lead on this. You seem to have a grip on event production and community outreach that no promoter can even come close to. Just think of how many others would want to follow suit if EDC led the charge on this.
Pasquale, what do you say? Let's set ourselves up for success in 2016.
While festivals have been known to cancel days here and there because of weather or fatalities (EDC in 2012 because of high winds, Electric Zoo in 2013 and Freaknight in 2014 for overdoses, Mad Decent Boat Party this year), it always seems to be something that the event recovers from and the attendees come to understand.
Some festivals have been going under sporadically over the past year, whether it's due to the pure cost to put on events (Future Music Festival) or business partners not following through on promises (Wakarusa).
In 2016, my vote goes to SFX Entertainment's TomorrowWold.
Short of it is, the company just isn't doing well. They already had to cancel this year's One Tribe Festival, stock prices have plummeted over the last year, and the CEO failed at an attempt to take the company private. And this was all before the clusterfuck that happened at TomorrowWorld. If you missed the news, heavy rains shut the festival down and event organizers essentially stranded anyone who wasn't camping and forced a bunch of exhausted, wet, and intoxicated attendees to walk miles back to the main road.
I totally understand that acts of God are out of anyone's control, but SFX abandoned everyone and didn't look back. The overwhelming response was anger, confusion, and betrayal. While I know there's some people who don't care and will go to an event regardless, TomorrowWorld lost out on a lot of returning attendees, and I honestly wouldn't even blink if they had to pay for it.
4. Mini-Festivals will overtake Mega-Festivals
In a similar vein, we've seen the overwhelming success of festivals that cater to their specific audience, provide a fun, quirky environment, better access to the artists, and aren't so huge as to impose logistical challenges that plague the big boys. Absurd lines, transportation nightmares, overdoses, clueless hot messes ruining the good times, and people overheating are all a function of the massive scale of mega-festivals.
Contrast that to the overwhelming success of DirtyBird Campout. They have hands down, shown the world that when you combine an amazing theme with games, getting to party with the talent, and a group of like-minded fans - less is hands down, more.
3. Soundcloud Will Go Belly Up
I like the idea of Soundcloud a lot more than I actually like Soundcloud. Don't me wrong, I use it all the time, and in theory it should be fantastic. Anyone the prospect of getting the opportunity to upload any remix, any mashup, any podcast that they can produce and sharing it with whoever will listen is fantastic. But what the platform delivers falls far short of what it actually promises.
Non-premium accounts are limited to posting only three hours worth of music, so if you have any sort of regular mix you want to put out, forget about it. Soundcloud also has wildly frustrating copyright policies. Whether it's as absurd as Kaskade not having the rights to publish his own music or Marshmello's "Hello" remix getting taken down numerous times or our own blog not getting to post a podcast; the main appeal of getting to post anything isn't really there anymore.
Hey @Adele SoundCloud keeps pulling down my remix of hello. Do you want to hear it?
Soundcloud is really just covering it's own ass so it doesn't get sued, but the insistence from labels to remove their music is inconsistent, and not to mention misguided, since if I like an artist I'll go see them perform. I don't download music anymore anyway, legally or illegally. At the crux of all of this is the cold hard fact that Soundcloud is "dangerously low on cash," since they spend all of their money on lawyers rather than making the growing the platform and it's services.
It doesn't work. Casual users are frustrated, bedroom producers are frustrated, and mainstage producers are frustrated. It's only a matter of time before something better comes along.
2. The Decline of Ghost Producing
Even though ghost producing has a tight grip on the industry, and there are a lot of DJs who are very outspoken against the practice, it doesn't really seem to make a difference. A lot of the more well-known ghost producers are very open about what they do and no one pays attention Dennis Waakop has done interviews where he talks specifically about ghost producing for Tiesto. Maarten Vorwek shares production tips on his Facebook page and has done an AMA on Reddit, while producing tracks for DVBBS, W&W, and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike.
It's so common place, that people actively advertise the practice. This is an actual commercial for an actual website.
A lot of these ghost producers seem to prefer being in the studio, that they're just interested in making music, not performing it. This is mindset that seems to capture the previous generation. Right now, it's probably a lot easier for someone to submit a track a producer and take 5% of publishing to maybe get their name as a collaborator in Danny Avila's radio show. That can be really appealing, especially to some younger people. But there is this other wave of new, hungry, bedroom producers out there who do want credit for what the music they're creating.
While it's never going to be something that goes away, this year is going to bring a change in people's willingness to buy into it. Now that it's clearer than ever that originality and creativity pays off in spades, there is a much high incentive for up and coming artists to make a name for themselves, rather than hoping for an astrix that gives them credit.
1. Deadmau5 Will Lighten Up
lol just kidding. He'll always be a jaded, salty little troll. Maybe his break from social media will be good for him.
[caption id="attachment_36790" align="aligncenter" width="544"] meow[/caption]
Well...that was 2015. It has been so thrilling and to get to expand my horizons and share music with all of you. I really do feel hashtag: blessed to have the opportunity to do this.
We have LOTS of cool things coming from Only The Beat in the next year, so be sure to keep checking us out.
Be safe tonight. Take risks this next year. Be patient with yourself. Stop wishing, start doing. Great things never came from comfort zones. Let your past prepare you, not define you. And a lot of other encouraging advice. You got this.
See you all in 2016.