What’s In A Name?: EDMBiz explores “EDM” In The Current Scene

EDMbiz is well under way in Las Vegas, and there are numerous panels with incredible discussions happening. The first one we attended was titled “What’s in a name?” which was a discussion on the term “EDM” and how it is interpreted in the current scene. The panel was moderated by Jason Bentley and the guest speakers included:

  • Matthew Adell; Founder, MetaPop
  • Raymond Leon Roker; Co-founder/CEO/Publisher/Creative Director, URB Magazine and Head of Content, Goldenvoice/Coachella
  • Phil Blaine; President, Robot Picnic
  • Rich Thomas; Vice President, Content, Insomniac
  • Tobias Ekman; Vice President, Strategic Alliances – Electronic Music Lead, Live Nation
  • Tommie Sunshine; Artist/Activist

There is a lot of conflict over the meaning of “EDM” in the scene today. Some use the acronym as an umbrella term to refer to all the genres within our sphere. Jason Bentley hilariously started the panel off by listing all the genres he could think of, some of which were completely made up. He asked the audience which ones he had made up, and no one could answer. This demonstrates that there is, in fact, a need for an all-encompassing term. People outside our scene also recognize this term through the proliferation of the acronym in media headlines.

On the other hand, it is a widely hated term by people inside the scene. Matthew Adell reflected the angst many of the long-term ravers have with the term by saying, “When I think of EDM, I think of the frat boy jock coming down the hall calling me a ‘faggot.'” This was hilarious in context, but he was also very accurate in his statement. For those who have been in the scene for ages, there was a time when they were bullied because of the music they like. Now those bullies are attending the shows and are heavily involved in the scene.

Given those two positions on the term EDM, there was a good debate about the strength of the term in the culture now. For a lot of people in the scene who are on the latter part of the argument, they see EDM as a type of genre. When you see a DJ say, “1, 2, EVERYBODY JUMP!” every few minutes in their set, they would be an EDM DJ. Basically the four-on-the-floor, calculated four-bar drop, preset track list DJ. In a sense, they are the talent-less hacks that most people who have been in it for a while hate. (Yes, there is hate within the Rave scene, don’t lose your shit over it.)

For the former part of the argument, the term is incredibly useful with bringing new people into the scene from a business perspective. When new people are headed to a show or want to become a producer/DJ, they usually say, “I am going to an EDM festival,” or “I want to become an EDM DJ.” Don’t fault them for the term, it’s just what they are familiar with. Tobias Ekman explained that it is easier to present a show to vendors, partners, or investors by using the term EDM, because that is what they have heard of.

There is an effort to release us from the term EDM in our culture. In a later panel on the state of the industry, James Algate, VP of Entertainment for Hakkasan Group, said they have removed the term from their messaging. They don’t use it in promotion emails. Even the organizers of the event were offhandedly joking, but also very seriously saying, that there was going to be a change in the name of “EDMBiz” to something more acceptable across the scene next year. A name has not been decided on, but the conversation was had.

The boom of “EDM” isn’t slowing down anytime soon, but it is in a very cool stage of transition. Tommy Sunshine put it best when he described how the scene is evolving using the analogy of a dog coming out of water: “When a dog comes out of the water, the first thing it does is a good shake, and a lot of the water just flies off, but there’s always a little water left … This is what our scene is going through. We are seeing a lot of the people who don’t belong in it, and the ones who are real artists, that is the water left on the dog.”

The discussion left us wondering, is the term EDM good for the scene? Well we honestly don’t know. A few of us will align with what Matthew Adell said the perception of the word is, and others will see that it is the gateway to a new life.

So what do you think about the term “EDM”? Tell us in the comments below or share this article on social media, and get the conversation going.

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