House music. Its funny. Just five years ago my friends were always giving me a hard time for liking that “cracky” music characterized by late party nights, glowsticks, and that non-stop utz utz utz. Flying all over the U.S. to see a DJ for one night seemed crazy to them. So did hitting two, three, or even four parties in one night/morning. Boy how things have changed.
If you’re anything of an EDM fan, you were in Miami either the last week of March for Miami Music Week (MMW) or during the second week of March for the Winter Music Conference (WMC). I had a chance to spend Wednesday through Sunday in Miami for MMW and I’ve got to say it’s been the best trip of the past five years. Absolutely amazing weather, non-stop parties, and of course, fantastic music from the world’s best.
Prior to coming to Miami this year I was hesitant to see what would fall out from whole break-up of Ultra Music Festival and the WMC. In a scene that has been trying to find its identity over the past few years, I thought the break-up of the traditionally industry focused event (WMC) from the more consumer focused event (Ultra) would spell disaster for the industry and the overall scene. I was wrong.
The last week of March, now dubbed Miami Music Week, has undoubtedly shifted towards commercialism and the masses. Electronic music, specifically House music has been catapulted into the commercial mainstream. EDM DJs and Producers are celebrities in their own right and appearances at huge EDM events from mainstream artists such as P.Diddy, will.i.am, and others only solidify this statement. How crazy is it to think that will.i.am is now a supporting act in a DJ set? Electronic music, once an eclectic, obscure, weird, and underground genre of music has now become a full-fledged member of mainstream music.
For the veteran EDM fans, you’ll know that we’re at an interesting crossroads for the scene. There’s surely a lot of commercial Top 40’s “dance” music out there, but its great to see producers to cater to the masses, but also stay true to the underground. It’s a tough job to straddle that line between commercialism and underground, but the producers who do this well will be the timeless superstars that last in this industry. Guys like Axwell, Steve Angello, Erick Morillo, and Dirty South are all the leaders of this movement and I can’t wait to see where these guys will be in 10 years.
Miami 2011 is significant in comparison to previous years because we’ve seen artists, production companies, and event planners try to bring the underground to the masses. Sure, in the past you’d have a number of large scale “commercial” parties (David Guetta’s F*ck Me I’m Famous being one of them), but this year we saw an explosion of these types of parties. From the unbelievable Swedish House Mafia Masquerade Motel to Ultra Music Festival you saw parties on this scale of all sorts. While these larger, more commercial events took place, its fantastic to see that the underground parties like Sunday School were still going strong.
So why is Miami 2011 so significant? Simply put, this year’s EDM events in Miami have simply bridged the gap between the mainstream and the underground. For the first time, people who have never been exposed to handfuls of international DJs in the same place have had an opportunity to experience EDM that isn’t broadcast on the radio. From established superstars like Tiesto to the rising superstars like Avicii the masses have had an all-encompassing taste of the EDM scene.
It’s a fantastic thing for the industry, but (yes I must play devil’s advocate here) I will leave one warning. Commercialism will result in artists looking to please the masses. This undoubtedly kills creativity and risk taking by artists. I had a brief conversation with Trent Cantrelle (for house heads, think “Big Love”) and we talked a little about the explosion of house music. A seemingly realistic guy, he left me with an interesting warning: The next couple years will determine whether house music lives or dies.
You can already see traces of the death of house music. David Guetta, a producer who actually turned me on to house music has put out some astoundingly bad hip-hop/house hybrid productions. They’re catchy, hook filled (ripped hooks at that), and radio ready, but to call these productions house music is a travesty to the genre. But going further than just productions and the music itself, it is the spirit of house music that must continue to live on. This quote has always struck me in regards to the spirit of house music:
“True House music is indeed about love. Giving love, making love, being in love, losing love, love dancing. House is a feeling and that feeling is love.”
So I pray to the House Gods that this spirit lives on. I hope that we never see baby powder disappear from the dance floor and that we never see bumpin and gridin as the primary dance form at a house party. I hope that we continue to see smiling, dancing faces at clubs and that partying isn’t all about looking hot, throwing money around, or fighting.
I hope that the love for dancing and most importantly, the music continues to live on. If we can capture and spread this spirit as house music continues to grow into the mainstream, this world will undoubtedly become a better place.