The End is not so Near for EDM
Yes, EDM has become largely commercialized. From Beiber to Madonna, Paris Hilton to Kanye, and everyone wants a piece of the billion dollar market. But as an EDM producer, writer and concert go-er, I believe Berdellan is too hasty in his apocalyptic prophesies for the genre and fails to see conflict from every angle.
Berdellan first blames booking agents for running up prices, but it seems that he fails to understand that that is their job. Artists, myself included, pay a booking agent to ensure that our time is best represented when we get our paycheck. People tend to scoff at how much DJs get paid these days with claims such as, "they [DJs] just walk up to decks and press play for an hour!" It is true that some DJs just "press play", as Deadmau5 stated, it's really not that hard to do - shit - even pornstars are DJs nowadays; However, what many fail to realize is that there is more to being a working DJ than that one hour of "pressing play". A DJ's day commonly starts with an 8am wakeup for an early flight, which also costs money, and then they spend the rest of their day traveling to the venue or fine tuning their set. Later, there is soundcheck, press shoots, and interviews - all before the DJ even takes the stage. This time is valuable and, in the business world, it is billable as much as the "performance" itself. Just compare the net worth of the world's richest DJs to the average professional sports player. Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks, who averaged 13 minutes a game, took in 18.3 million dollars last year, which is 3 millon more than Skrillex has made in his entire career.
Berdellan also mentions Spin's article regarding the amount of time that constant touring takes away from studio time. This is not entirely true, considering a typical EDM artist only needs a laptop and a solid pair of headphones to produce a track. Mastering can be difficult under such circumstances, but most succesful artists doesn't master their own songs anyway. Additionally, from a business point of view, an EP or album will rarely generate the amount of revenue which a single show can for a reasonably popular artist. The reality is record labels give a very small percentage of revenue to the actual producer. To get a song on Beatport, an artist might need to give 50% to a label, another 10% to the vocalist, 5% to whoever mastered the track, and often a share to their manager or the PR firm handling the press release. This isn't just a problem in EDM, but in other industries as well. An article by The Root suggests that for every $1000 a record label makes, the average musician gets around $23.40.
Berdellan does, however, have a very good point when discussing the rampant evolution of music festivals. Live Nation has bought TicketMaster, HARD, and countless other festival promoters, resulting in prices skyrocketing and talent being chosen based on what will make the most money. We here at INTO THE AM had the privilege of attending Pasquale Rotella's talk during the pre-EDC EDMBiz convention and he shed some light on the positive potential of the festival scene. During his presentation he stated, "our strategy moving forward is we don't want to book the [big] guys," and that "I don't want to be a promoter. My passion is not selling tickets and making money. I want to create an experience. You don't need to book the big acts who sell out arenas." Good news for those complaining that festivals have become oversaturated.
The thing is, musical genres always evolve with two general directions: music as art and music as a service (i.e. the doom of commodified music). Yes, some of EDM has become overly commodified crap that comes out, and bandwagon kids will suck it dry until the next big thing comes along. However, we'll always have music as an art that is creative, innovative, and evolutionary for those who stop to listen.