Electronic music goes mainstream

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DJ performing at a nighclub.

On Monday MTV News published a story about Tiësto's hit event at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. A few years ago one could not have imagined that a DJ like Tiësto could fill stadiums, at least not in the U.S. Electronic music has a more storied history in the UK, but in the States it has largely been relegated to nightclubs, at least until recently.

That began changing a couple years ago when pop and R&B artists like Britney Spears and Rihanna began incorporating elements of electronic music into their own work. Around the same time electronic genres like dubstep found an audience among young music listeners.

Fast forward two years and Tiësto has 26,000 people jamming to his work. Not to be forgotten are deadmau5 and Owl City, who were already popular among electronic music fans in the U.S. So what does all this mean? Is electronic music becoming the next big thing in the concert industry? It's possible, and the data is there to support it.

The data

Two years ago electronic music artists were barely a blip on the radar in the TicketNetwork Exchange. Owl City was the only DJ with really significant sales. Over 65% of tickets sold on the exchange to electronic music events in 2009 were for his shows. Tiësto and deadmau5 made up another 25%, and another handful of tickets were roughly split among four other artists.

Then last year something big happened. The number of artists represented on the exchange more than doubled to seventeen. Also, the amount of tickets sold for the genre rose sharply. Tiësto didn't do as well because he only toured the U.S. for a few dates, but the number of tickets sold for both deadmau5 and Owl City events increased dramatically. The amount of tickets bought for deadmau5 shows grew six-fold, with 1038% more sold than the previous year. Ticket sales for Owl City also grew significantly, by 513%.

The trend has continued into 2011. The year isn't even over yet, but as of Tuesday 34 electronic artists have sold tickets on the exchange. deadmau5 is again leading the pack in demand as ticket sales have risen by a further 195%. Sales for Tiësto have also improved, with 136% more tickets sold than last year. 2011 has also seen the emergence of another popular artist in Skrillex, who could surpass deadmau5 in ticket sales next year. In all, the number of electronic tickets sold on our exchange has grown by more than 950% in the last two years.

Chart showing the change of Tiësto, Owl City, and deadmau5 ticket sales for 2010 and 2011.

What does the data mean?

Some people say that rock is dead. Not quite, as the legendary artists of the 70s and 80s remain among the top selling artists at TicketNetwork. However, all of the classics are aging, and some exceptions like Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire aside, the new rock acts just haven't found the same kind of success that they might have even 20 years ago. That's likely because people's tastes have changed, perhaps influenced by electronically-enhanced pop and hip hop music, and some of those people may be seeking a type of electronic music that is deemed a little more authentic.

People are looking for something different and the data backs that up. Even with the slowdown in growth among the leading DJs this year, the electronic music category on our exchange is the fastest growing one in terms of tickets sold. The real question that remains to be answered is whether electronic music is a permanent fixture for U.S. listeners, or whether it's a fad that'll die out in a few years like disco did in the 70s (it too was a form of dance music). We shall see, but for the moment it's here to stay.

Comments (3) -

chris said...

NO. This is frustrating for ALL dance commuity fans. WE are the future. WE started the trend. NOT suburban douchebags and frat boys who like electronic now. Ask any hardcore house music fan and they will say the same thing about dance music here in the states....LEAVE IT TO THE CLUBS. Mainstream America needs to quit while they are ahead....especially this hip-hop mixing in with TRANCE music. Trance???? of ALL genre's of electronic? TRANCE??? no pop artist, please leave dance music for the Dj's and for the dancefloor (at night)

November 30, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Mike said...

While I agree with you on what seems to be the latest fad of mixing in electronic music into pop songs, I disagree that electronic music should be kept contained to the nightclub. I am not a frat boy, but I like electronic music quite a bit (though I have a difficulty with the likes of Skrillex).

I'm not a clubber, so any efforts that DJs can take to make their music more accessible to the general public is welcome to me.

December 1, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Wyatt said...

As this tread is long gone and dead, but I have the urge to comment what Chris said. I see your a Fanboy and as the word fanatic is in conjunction reasoning maybe difficult. Its the DJ's that took the money and took it mainstream. Mainstream media had a demand and DJ's and big entertainment business saw that and monopolized it as much. So you have your own crowd to thank for that.

September 15, 2013 at 5:01 PM

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