Is it really THAT bad that electronic music is mainstream?

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Is it really THAT bad that electronic music is mainstream?

It’s no secret; electronic music is mainstream. David Guetta and Avicii are household names right up there alongside Justin Timberlake and Beyonce. Every radio station, every Top-40 chart, and almost every other genre within ‘pop’ music now incorporate electronic sounds, styles and more. Pop stars, as well as many mainstream rappers collab with producers and release club/rave-ready tracks.

Dillon Francis’ new album just debuted at no.2 on the US Billboard Dance charts and is within the top 40 main chart, alongside Disclosure and more. Money-wise, it’s even more obvious. Last year, Calvin Harris reportedly earned around $46 million – only a few shy of Taylor Swift, and more than Jay-Z AND Dr Dre.

Now, before you attack, I’m not just talking EDM or whatever you want to call it. House is right up there too, just like dubstep, and there’s loads of radio-ready trance and techno. The biggest festivals in Australia and the US are largely, if not entirely based around electronic music, and let’s not forget about events like Armin Van Buuren’s upcoming ‘A State of Trance,’ which sells tens of thousands of tickets around the world.

Just like every other style of music in history, people complain that electronic music is being destroyed by going mainstream. We recently reported about Seth Troxler saying, “I feel like EDM and underground dance music shouldn’t necessarily be united, as we don’t share common goals or interests.” 

I’m sorry Seth, but I don’t really see the point there. EDM and underground don’t HAVE to unite. They don’t need to share goals and interests. Just because they’re both electronic, and one’s really popular, doesn’t mean they’re all doomed.

A genre of music existed and then people listened to it, so it got popular. Artists got signed to bigger labels and even more people started listening. It went mainstream. How’s that bad or unexpected?


Hip hop went mainstream a while ago. Rock? Same story. Bob Dylan, America’s folk hero, was booed off stage after picking up an electric guitar. Did that destroy folk music? No. (Mumford & Sons did that.) These are all genres which started ‘underground.’ It stood for something, it had meaning……. and then the evil mainstream took over.

Oh, come on. Who cares? Nobody is forcing you to listen to it. Just because something “goes mainstream” doesn’t mean that it’s no longer good – especially when you’re talking so broadly about something like electronic music, where there are thousands of sub-genres and styles.

You wouldn’t say the same thing about rock music. Coldplay are mainstream and I think they suck, but that doesn’t mean Led Zeppelin suddenly sucks. And for that matter, Led Zeppelin currently have two albums in the Billboard top 20, does that mean I automatically hate them or that they’ve sold out? Hell no. I think Lil Jon or whoever is crap but does that ruin all of hip hop for me? Definitely not, and the same goes for electronic.

Yes, a lot of popular electronic music kinda sucks IMO. But that doesn’t affect the music I listen to, and it has nothing to do with ‘underground scenes’. If music is good, people will like it. If it has a label and/or marketing and publicity behind it, lots of people will like it.

It’s painful to watch people say, “Oh, I liked this producer but now he’s playing bigger venues, what a sell-out.” I get it if you love an artist and their music sours, but don’t knock it just because it got popular. Also, their growing popularity doesn’t kickstart the demise of an entire genre. How else does that affect you? It doesn’t, except that you no longer get that painfully hipster sensibility of selfish/self-righteous ownership of something underground.

It’s their careers, and they’re doing really damn well. Good on them. Would they really say, “no, I don’t want more people listening to my music,” just to keep a little underground cred?

Okay, where popularity does affect the music industry is here: something gets popular, it attracts label interest. That label pushes out that artist and genres, possibly even spawning smaller genre-specific labels. Then producers may feel the pressure to come up with music of that specific genre, because they won’t receive label attention otherwise. The next issue is that festivals and clubs will often follow those trends. So from that perspective, yes, electronic being popular has tarnished certain areas. But it’s also generated so many small new genres, artists, labels, venues and more, that I only think it’s a valid point if your’e really trying to break it in the mainstream, specifically.


No! No more awards! No more money and popularity and adoration! I’ve had enough!

The system NEEDS to be there. People need to make money. Labels need to promote artists. Soundcloud needs to make money. There’s nothing wrong with it at all.

What has the popularity of electronic music done? It’s gained more fans. It’s got more and more people interested in electronic music. It’s spawned countless new genres. It’s allowed for your songs to have thousands more plays on Soundcloud, or allowed for more people to buy tickets to see your show.
And, in the end, popular electronic music and ‘underground’ electronic music are probably different. People might not even like the same styles, and chances are that if it’s going to tilt one way or another, people will enter the electronic world through the mainstream, only to discover a whole universe of better, more interesting electronic music out there. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.


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