Home Forums The DJ Booth The other side to EDM popularity.

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    Eliah Holiday

    Back when I first DJ’d the popular music in the clubs was House and it’s variants (Soulful, Deep, Tribal, French, etc.) as well as Techno. The music was good and the clubs and bars were busy. People went out to find the “underground” clubs that played less commercial music, it was cool. Nowadays I see many DJs like myself who spin great music, mostly “underground”, who struggle for gigs and getting the club or bar even half full. Meanwhile those who just hop on EDM/Progressive House/Electro House/ bandwagon manage to get more gigs and play to a larger crowd. It’s all rather sad.

    You’d think with the popularity of EDM that all dance music genres would get more attention unilaterally, but fact is EDM, the most commercial dance music (might as well include Dubstep), gets all the attention and the other genres get pushed off to the sidelines. At least where I live in Canada, I don’t think the youth of today even know what good music sounds like or have much in the way of independent tastes. They want to hear what they have been programmed to hear, what the media tells them is “hip.”

    Seriously I’d kill to play to the crowds I did some 15 years or so ago. Someone tell me it’s different in Europe or somewhere on this planet. Hell, I’d almost move to Russia to spin Dub Techno.

    Phil Worrell

    Waiting for the drop?

    Right with you there Eliah, from what I’m told it is the same everywhere. A lot of DJ’s are trying to get away from the media frenzy of the EDM craze, but at the same time it is hurting people financially.

    Sure the youth follow the crowd and what is popular, not necessarily what is necessarily good. Especially when they all ant to be accepted as part of a group in one way or another. It is a way of connecting.

    We are seeing the first signs of EDM dying. Well for a start kids are getting hurt or dying at these large festival / raves. Media are starting to push this and they are drug fueled. Which is everyone knows but does not want to admit. Soon enough the headline DJ’s will start to get the blame for it all, then the genre.

    Europe is having a bit of a resurgence of old school house with the deep house creeping in. In the UK several chart toppers recently have been deep house related. Maybe the next thing or at least a resurgence. At least it is having a renaissance here. I’m enjoying it if some of it is getting a little weird.

    I think like most music trends they have a limited life span. In the UK I loved early house and rave tunes through the mid 90’s. When jungle, drum and bass and then speed garage genres hit. I got bored of those so quickly it turned me off the music.

    It will be a similar thing with EDM. When the crowds start to bore of it and the amounts of money made begin to drop the big companies will get out of it and move onto something else. Just a matter of time, and those with other music tastes will be waiting.

    The place if you want to spin techno the place is Berlin from what I know. Hey Richie Hawtin spends most of his time there 🙂

    Hang in there the evolution is coming.

    Yared Lee

    Well from the perspective of a young person who feels as if I’m a bit more enlightened than others my age. I think that music has a very cyclical quality to it, there’s an ebb and flow to the genres and the tastes of what’s popular. Secondly I think that no matter what aspect of electronic music rose to popularity, that people would have the same opinions towards it. Suppose Trance is what blew up, and all the festivals etc. were playing it? I think that people would be posting threads similar to this, only complaining about trance. That being said I think that while it is true that the big EDM bubble is hurting the less popular genres across the board, that the “underground” genres are good because they are just that, underground. I’m sure that progressive hour and the like were better when they were underground genres. However I would also like to make the point that while a majority of the “EDM” which is released nowadays(Electro House, Progressive etc etc.) shares similar structures and some artists really don’t put in as much effort anymore, that we can’t write it off as being bad music simply because it is the current trend. People tend to do that with ANYTHING that gets massively popular. For example the song “Animals”, I actually liked it very much when it just came out, but then it got overplayed and overplayed and overplayed….

    I find that I enjoy the current music festivals a great deal although there are certain big name artists/ songs/ styles that I don’t like hearing sometimes. I also enjoy some music from the lesser appreciated genres, although to be totally honest, i don’t like it all, and I’m not extremely well versed in them, but coming from a musical family, I can appreciate any kind of music once it’s good music (Except country, and metal, bleh) because that’s what my father taught me “Good Music, Is Good Music.”

    So yes its true that the quality of the music is degraded with all of the popularity, but I think that a lot of people from the older generations are just reacting defensively against the current trend because the cyclical nature of the tastes in music has taken the genre that they love/play out of the spotlight for a bit. So it isnt right to say.. for example that “______ genre of music that was once popular is making a comeback, finally good music is being appreciated again”, I think statements like that are a bit flawed, bringing me back to my previous point that; Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s bad.

    That being said, there are the real fans, who truly like the music, and then there are those that are slaves to trends and will only like the music as long as the trend lasts. But please, PLEASE don’t make the closed-minded, short sighted generalization that “All young people don’t know good music nowadays and are just following trends”. There is some truth to that statement, but nowhere near enough to make the generalization.

    My tastes in music vary from the popular stuff; Electro house and Big Room, Trap, Some Dubstep and deep house etc. to Hip-Hop(Alot of old school and underground artistes), to random tidbits that I pick up such as Nujabes, Laura Welsh etc. The genre I love most however is Roots Reggae and Dub, just something about the instruments, and the smooth heavy basslines and the soul drenching delays and reverb. And Dub is certainly a genre which remains relatively underground, and i think I’d like to see it stay that way.

    But hey, what do I know, I’m only 18 😛

    Phil Worrell

    Hey Boomdraw, very well said great response, love it and to hear it from a youngster. Your eyes and ears are open, try to keep it that way!

    Here is an answer to an age old question and I think you have the answer.

    What makes good music ? -Whatever the individual likes is the answer. Not what half the world likes right now. We are all individuals and music each has a different meaning to each of us.

    The thing about being a DJ is we have to adapt somewhat to playing the popular music please the majority of the crowd whether we like it or not. That said we can play what we like at home and sometimes experiment with the crowds to see what works at that time and what does not.

    For example Phil Morse I believe said in the masterclass at some point that Armin Van Buuren he trance master / top DJ etc is a big fan of chill out music apparently and listen to it as his preferred genre to the stuff he does.

    From the early emergence of DJ their has always been an underground and there will always be an underground. Depends if what you like is the current trend or not, so in that case you are spot on to say it has cycles. So it is down to choices, do you want fortune and fame or be the cool underground DJ? or something else?

    Yared Lee

    Hmm, you know I actually disagree about the subjectivity of “Good Music”. While I’, kind of defeating my own argument because I cant give a definition of Good Music…. those with the right ears just know. It’s just that nowadays people are afraid to say that they like bad music, nothing is strictly wrong with liking bad music.. but that’s what it is.. It’s bad. This is outside the realm of what makes good music good, because it is also possible for there to be a “Good” song, and some people don’t like it… I’m probably not making alot of sense, but that’s the mentality that I have x.x

    And that is right, we are DJ’s which means that to a certain degree we must play what the crowd wants.. But various DJ’s have a ratio that they feel comfortable playing. I battled with myself over this as I’m still in my beginner stages and after some time spent thinking about it I’ve found a mixture that fits with me. However, at the same time I have certain hard limits on things I won’t play no matter what. My hard limits mean that I’ll just have to work harder to get where I wanna go, because I live in Miami… And I absolutely refuse to play Hispanic music.. And that’s the end of it lol.

    Next thing is, don’t make it sound so black and white, I’d love to be the cool underground DJ, hell Dub/Reggae is a pretty underground genre I’d say, but I also like some of the big EDM anthems as well as some lesser known electronic tracks. So I’m still trying to find my gray area, as it relates to how/where/What I play as well as the grey area as it relates to fame and fortune, because being underground doesn’t necesarily rob you of making alot of money (Albeit less than the big superstars)

    Marco Solo

    I can give you a definition of good music. Music that’s original, well produced, has good lyrics, a nice vibe, is hard to play/produce, etc. Any of these will get the good music stamp from me. By that definition most (not all!) electro house is bad. It all sounds the same, it’s very predictable and childish and a monkey could produce it.

    I’m also an example of a youngster (24) who knows where everything came from. I love rock from the seventies and regularly listen to bebop (a jazz genre) from the fifties and sixties. People like us are out there, but it’s not exactly crowded.

    I’m also one of those people who would rather play techno, minimal and deep house all night. But the reality is that you’re not going to get any gigs ever in my area if you focus on that. So what I did is branch out. Now I play the electro that I like, some progressive and even some top 40 if I like it and it hasn’t been overplayed yet. I also started looking at other genres. I recently discovered breaks via a tutorial by ellaskins and it works very well in my area.
    This is not the same as being a jukebox, you’re still playing the stuff that you like. It’s about finding the overlap of the circle of your taste with the one of the audience. The larger your circle is, the more likely it is you’ll find something that your audience likes.

    So branch out a little, you never know what you might find. Don’t focus on one particular style. Crazes come and go, they always have. Once they do you’ll be the one in charge, because the hipsters can only play EDM.

    Eliah Holiday

    I don’t hate all Progressive House. I love that track Orca by Deadmau5 for example. I will also spin what I consider to be more “pop” Deep House or Tech House as well. But I’m not interested in being just another EDM DJ playing to kids I can’t even begin to relate to. Guess I’m getting old. Truth is though there is still a lot of great music being made, not much getting the attention it deserves. Put me up against a Progressive House or Electro House DJ and I can guarantee you I can still keep the floor rocking with tracks no one’s herd of before. Problem is getting people to be open minded enough to get them into the club to something else other than big festival commercial EDM.

    For that matter I do believe cultures outside of N. America are a lot more open minded and support a wider range of underground music. At any rate in my city, Toronto, many have complained about how the local dance club scene has gone south. Clubs are closing and festival parties are growing. People will save up to got to some weekend festival party, and the clubs fight tooth n nail to get bodies, anybody, into their establishments. DJs spinning more underground music are regulated to a few small clubs and bars. There are underground dance parties, but they are few and far between.

    I suppose I have to accept playing killer tracks to a handful of people as oppose to playing music I find nauseating to a large crowd. I do remember playing large crowds with some really top notch House music and Techno back in the day. I miss it.

    Silvercue Master

    EDM. What’s that? We (well, some of us) used to call it techno back in the day. Now it has more sub genres than you can point a stick at and the modern side of it seems to have so many cheesy pop sections that I am having to move the sites I am buying tunes from as they are even re-classifying the music like some sort of forced evolution.

    If I browse Progressive House (what I consider my main genre) nearly all of it is actually Pop dance on places like Beatport. I can see the change even in the last 12 months.


    When my younger generation friends asked this question Do you like Dubstep ?
    Simply put I answered NO it gave me a headache,
    They replied, I guess you too old
    Eh i guess they right to some extend, my old ears cannot digest this new stuff, all this noisy electro sounds,
    Guess same dilemma my parents said about Metallica, Nirvana, NWA, Bone Thugs N Harmony,
    Same dilemma my grandparents said about Elvis Presley, The Beatles
    and so on…

    @OP in our local scene, the clubds divided into two category,
    1). The clubs that plays only local contents genre known as J-Breaks/Funkot, most of these are produced by local DJ’s/music producer. IF you DJ there and spins full EDM tunes, its guaranteed you will get booed off the stage and the bottles starts flying all over the place

    2). The other clubs that plays your standard EDM, if you tryed to play the genre that usually plays at the clubs listed in #1, you will get the same treatment, gets booed off the stages, and a humiliation and embarrassment

    Now if you a foreigner DJ’s (the cliche blonde hair and blue eyes typical), you can pretty much rocked anything you threw out there and we will cheer you on !
    Tech house, prog, whataver it dont matter as long you fits the foreign cliche description, lol

    Now if you a female that’s completely different story …

    Alex Moschopoulos

    Eliah, I’d tell you to be careful. I used to sound like you, and I found I was slowly becoming very cynical and bitter. I know it sucks when a scene you loved more or less fizzles out, and worse is replaced with a poppy watered-down scene.

    Your story reminds me of when I played trance between 1998 and 2001. I’d play loads of interesting stuff and had loads of freedom, but after 2001 the “ecstasy pop” sound of Ian Van Dahl, Becca, Dee Dee, etc…took over. Suddenly I couldn’t play any decent trance, as the crowds demanded the poppy euro junk the radio focused on.

    I have had the same issues with deep soulful house. I used to be able to play it all over, but suddenly it was too deep (or too black) for mainstreamers and too uptempo for the music snobs.

    If you want to gig, then I imagine it’s frustrating. It’s why I resigned myself back to being a bedroom DJ. You have to understand most people in all these “eras” of mainstream popularity for dance music really more ran out for an EXPERIENCE over the sound. Right now they want to be in a big festival with thousands, hearing the massive drops while high on drugs, dancing in a funny outfit, etc. In a few years most of them will settle down to cover bands at local bars…speaking of how the new scene is shit, but failing to ever go further into what could be in dance music.

    I would advise you to find other avenues to enjoy DJing. If I had the time, I’d do some regular podcasting. That or produce more than I have been. Things where I don’t have to worry about popularity or promotion…just do what I feel and be creative about it.


    This reply has been reported for inappropriate content.

    Let me get this straight. So because the current generation grew up in a different time and scene from you… they’re the ones to blame for your lack of productivity in the DJ world?

    Time for a reality check buddy, You’re living in a fantasy world. Reliving the glory days you lived out fifteen years ago, holding onto those memories; hoping they will one day come back and provide you with the same addrenine rush you experienced years ago. Well, it’s NOT going to happen.

    You remind me of those former high school superstar athletes who never stop talking about how good they were “back in the day.” Honestly nobody cares about what they did years ago. life goes on, stop living in the past.

    You say the problem is with the youth of today and their bad taste in music. The truth is, the problem is with elitist assholes who talk down to others. They ruin the music for everybody. Regardless of what side of edm they are on.

    Alex Moschopoulos

    A bit harsh BigChipsHI…but true.

    I usually dismiss the 80-90% who love cheese, and welcome the 10-20% who suddenly dive deeper down the rabbit’s hole. That’s tomorrow’s promoters, producers, DJs, and scenesters.

    Eliah Holiday

    Went to a Sonny Fodera show the other night. Really nice Deep/Tech House set. Only about 150 turn out at most. I was surprised. I figured he was big enough a DJ to play to a much larger crowd.

    Yeah I know I sound like the cliche old fart “Them kids and their crazy music these days…” etc. Too I remember genres like “Nu Energy” which was the pop dance music back when. Still I feel people were a lot more open minded and less prone to being told what’s cool by the establishment. But yeah, I suppose no sense in complaining. If anything I get people coming out and hearing me spin because they know they’ll get a lot of great music they never herd before, which is something. I of course wish the crowd was bigger, I guess I’ll just have to wait till people tire of the same formulaic pop dance music.

    DJ Vintage

    Let’s not forget one MAJOR difference with the current generation as opposed to all those that came before them. The availability of music is incredible as is the vast amount of music on offer. Distribution and production of music, any kind of music, is so easy and affordable that truly anybody can do it these days. Also, distribution is with the speed of light. What is hot across the planet can be hot here 5 minutes later, due to social networking and such. Something can go viral overnight. Sales numbers of “records” no longer determine the amount of attention a track gets, charts are now driven by what is hot online(iTunes Top x, beatport Top x, etx.), more than by what is sold.

    In the “old days”, underground was relatively unknown music that you would only find if you went out to actively search for it. People that were curious about new music trends would have to go out to “underground” places to even learn about these music genres, new artists and new directions.

    Today, you can sign up to as many sites as you like and get the newest and hottest stuff delivered to your doorstep 24/7. Adding features like, others that liked this also liked that, make it extremely easy, fast and cheap to explore the music scene.

    All this while at the same time not having the old vetting processes in place.

    When records were still vinyl and recording an album or track costs a small fortune, every artist and every track would be vetted before being allowed to record something. Smaller underground labels had less money to spend usually and needed to find the niches to stay afloat. So in a sense they vetted even harder. Then the underground record shops would vet what and where they would put new music and whether they would push it actively. Finally the DJ listening to the tracks in his/her favorite underground record shop would vet the songs bases on their own gut feeling of how their crowd would like it and if they liked it themselves.

    This situation has never existed before and can’t be compared to any of the previous generations, imho.

    Again, the human race has survived and thrived until now by being flexible and able to adapt to changing environments. This is true for DJs too I suppose. The only thing we can ask ourselves is if we haven’t created such a change rate for our environment that it’s becoming increasingly hard to adapt in a timely fashion.


    Alex Moschopoulos

    I dunno Eliah. I look at the scene now and it’s reminded me of every time the mainstream world embraced dance music and DJ culture.

    In the past, kids bought mix tapes or recorded pop tunes off the radio. Only major difference is clubs and promoters stood by their DJs when they refused to play a request. Now they’ll fire that DJ on the spot for daring to say “no” to a trust fund baby or trixie with a boob job.

    I just think there is no “easy” way to be the “cool DJ who plays the underground and gets paid well”. Every instance I know of it are people who work their tails off every day to stay relevant. Even then, many of them still aren’t making big money. That’s only reserved for a very few.

    I’ll bet money even that many of these “big hit producers” now will be forgotten memories in five years…and we’ll find them hustling like crazy to pay the rent in the long run.

    Only thing I can tell you all is:

    1. Stay true to what you like and how you think it should be performed
    2. Stay relevant. Don’t hold on to the past, but continually evolve
    3. Build a scene, or help build a scene.
    4. Stay positive…because no one likes a hater
    5. Find what makes you happy in DJing and stay with it…even if it means being a bedroom DJ.
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