You all may have seen the news over the last couple of months: from Forbes to Billboard, major publications have attempted to forecast the future of EDM music based on a terrible flop of recent events. Alongside the muddy fiasco that became of TomorrowWorld arose another significant debacle within the EDM industry: the decline of corporate mega-giant SFX Entertainment.
You may know SFX Entertainment as the front-runner of the live entertainment industry, but did you know that it was also the head of an entire EDM empire? It started back in 2012, when electronic music surged as a genre: This was the year that DJs truly started to take over the charts and SFX, as a leading live music corporation, saw huge opportunity in the sudden demand. CEO Robert Sillerman saw the genre’s great potential for growth and success, and quickly seized the moment.
In a recent NPR interview, Sillerman explains, "From a personal point of view, I've always loved to dance, but that's not why we got into this… The appeal was pure and simply to be attached to a generational movement."
SFX is currently the parent company of festivals like TomorrowLand, TomorrowWorld, Mysteryland, and Electric Zoo. It is the proprietor of music streaming service Beatport, ticketing company Paylogic, management company TMWRK, and other creative and digital marketing firms. In a single year since it took the reins on the growing EDM industry, SFX’s valuation as a company rose to more than $1 billion.
Today, however, something has shifted. In the last year, SFX has underwent multiple changes in management, and has suffered from financial complications. The value of SFX Entertainment now stands at less than $70 million.
SFX Entertainment’s troubles may change the EDM landscape, but it’s important to see that the problem here is not necessarily that SFX did wrong to the EDM industry. In fact, they helped bring more people in to appreciate and respect it. The problem is not that the EDM industry as a whole is declining, either.
The only fault here is that SFX Entertainment did not fully understand the fan-base nor the culture that supported the music they were marketing. According to one source at the company, “[SFX] didn’t tell the proper story about the culture and the evolution of the actual genre. It's ever-changing. We used it as a static point in time, and that's not what that genre's about."
Rather, he continues, “That genre is evolving,” and he couldn’t have said it any better. Electronic music, like its listeners, is innovative and progressive. SFX may have invested in the generational appeal of EDM music, but the company failed to recognize that much of today’s EDM fans thrive on the story, on the freedom, that electronic dance music offers. The money is not what matters here, but rather, the preservation of innovation, expression, and good nature that binds this community together.
While critics are still reporting that the fall of SFX will bring about the decline of electronic music altogether, they seem to be forgetting one thing: Dance music has been here long before multi-million dollar festivals. Electronic dance music has existed in our ears and hearts long before major corporations saw the profit-potential in its rising popularity. Yes, some may still try to tackle the corporate EDM industry, but they can’t deny the truth: the artistry of electronic music and the PLUR of our beloved EDM community remains untouched—and we will not fall so easily.
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