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The International Growth Of EDM

Moderator: John Boyle | Insomniac
Leizer Guss | OCESA / CIE
Han Ye | Beijing SPM Entertainment
Jason C. Miller | Live Nation
Paul Oakenfold | Artist
Matt Rodriguez | Paradigm Talent Agency
Moe Shalizi | Red Light Management

Analyzing the growth potential of various EDM markets around the world at Pollstar Live! were John Boyle (Insomniac), Leizer Guss (OCESA/CIE), Han Ye (Beijing SPM Entertainment), Jason C. Miller (Live Nation), Paul Oakenfold, Matt Rodriguez (Paradigm Talent Agency) and Moe Shalizi (Red Light Management).

Paul Oakenfold took the audience through a brief history of the genre, saying that 2017 marked the 30th anniversary of club culture. “Of course there was electronic music prior to that, but there was no focus. That changed in 1987, when myself and a couple of colleagues went to Ibiza, took ecstasy and everything changed. In a good way.”

Chicago’s Hot Mix 5 and Detroit’s Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins were important influences, and Oakenfold remembered bringing them over to England as a promoter in the late 80s. “According to them they were more popular in the UK at that time than they were back home.”

Guss spoke about the beginnings in Mexico, Latin and South America. “It was the Swedish House Mafia tour [of 2013] that really opened a lot of people’s eyes.” This was followed by “a brief period where we feared it might go away, so we started focusing on the experience of counter-culture and community. That’s where the real value of dance music really lies. It’s not just about who’s on stage, but also who’s next to you in the crowd.”

In the US, “EDM, as they like to call it, has hit a plateau in growth,” Rodriguez said. “But now we’re watching that happen
in China and Asia. From EDCs, Ultra, Tomorrowland, you name it. The new gold rush is Asia.”

Oakenfold touched upon the role of the Netherlands, where he lived for several years, and the disproportional number of good DJs hailing from there. “It’s very strange and unique how they are etched on electronic music. They’re all about football and DJing.”

Shalizi said “dance music in America has become stale. It all sounds the same. We’re not gene-rating fans as quickly as couple of years ago. Dance isn’t as big on Spotify as it was on Soundcloud.”

Which is why the question of how to capitalize on other cultures in each region has become paramount. “How do we appeal to the people in each country? In India for example I had Marshmello dress up in Indian clothing and include Bollywood Hits into his sets. The people understood that this guy from America understands the culture of their country. Our social media was off the wall.” Shalizi predicts that his clients will be spending a lot more time in Asia, Latin and South America in 2017. “US is on cruise control. Internationally is where the focus lies.”

The panel agreed that Japan was already a developed market. However, it is still important to have a local partner on board, which is why Insomniac and half-owner Live Nation work with Creativeman and GMO Internet Group on EDC Japan.
In Brazil, the bad economy has capped all growth for now, while Russia seems to be a hard one to crack. Oakenfold said the Russians “like a certain sound. It’s down to having your boots on the ground and working with good local promoters.”

Guss talked about conversion rate issues, which created instability since “sometimes you have to go on sale six to seven months before the show and you don’t know where it’s going to be. A big company like OCESA can buy a lot of dollars in advance, but small promoters can’t, so the margins get really complicated.”

In China, 200 million people are between 15 and 25 years old, according to Han Ye. “They love going to clubs and listening to western music.” The year 2012 is when the EDM festival market took off. Storm in Shanghai, for example, attracted 8,000 people in 2012. Four years later more than 80,000 attended over two days. “Every year they grow more than 200 per cent.
“In 2016, more than 500,000 people attended a electronic music festival in China. But given the population, it should be five million,” said Han Ye.

While this may sound like a grand opportunity, Rodriguez said that the bans on Facebook and YouTube made getting artists into China a lot harder. Oakenfold suggested working with a local artist on site, which always helped to break a market.

Miller pointed out that all markets in Asia came with their unique challenges, but the “runway is huge. For Live Nation the EDM space has always been a bit chal-lenging in Asia, because the pro-moters that are making money in that space own the club.”

Another challenge in China is the huge number of state-owned enterprises. “Since Trump, all SOEs (state-owned enterprises)
that wanted to work with Insomniac have left,” said Boyle. The Chinese government also caps the amount of people that can assemble at once per day to 20,000. “We have relationships with the Chinese government, so it can be probably stretched to 100,000 over two days.”

When Oakenfold played the Chinese Wall, he had a promoter on site, but it still took a year to get the permission. “I had to submit the track and lyrical content of each track. So I submitted a list and played other music.”

– Gideon Gottfried