October saw us kick off the first of our monthly Planning Breakfasts, which is an opportunity for our creative and planning teams to come together to discuss a cultural topic over baked goods.
We can’t share the best almond croissants Pret has to offer with you, but we can share a few of the key points of the session, which was around the EDM culture:
The Rise Of The U.S Rave Culture & Smart use of the ‘EDM’ Acronym
Ten or fifteen years ago, the U.S didn’t have an equivalent rave scene that compared with the UK. It’s a growing, young audience who are seeking a release, something new. EDM festivals tap into the rites of passage mindset, much like a Cancun trip to America, or Reading and Leeds festival in the UK.
With this, there have been savvy people who have packaged up a range of sub-cultures and new genres to create a generalised term – Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. By creating a vague term, it makes EDM an easily digestible product that is easier to sell to a younger audience, with the business model focused on serving the obvious and passionate needs of an engaged audience.
Why EDM? & Creating an Unmatchable Experience For The Many
"You’re not going to a festival to interact with people, it’s about losing yourself in the moment”
EDM shows, which are mostly brought to life on the festival scene, are less about the music and more about the atmosphere, the grandiose and the theatrics. EDM is how the next generation can engage with music without losing concentration, because every other minute holds a new serotonin-inducing drop.
In some ways EDM is the reaction to the music industry’s decade-long fight against piracy. It’s a rush towards tapping the main source of money - live performances. In the same way we see movies becoming more and more enthralling to counteract the damage of piracy. To draw the crowds you need to make the experience unmatchable at home. Just look at thrillers like Interstellar or Mad Max that push the boundaries in sound and special effects.
Where is EDM going next?
“The rise in boutique festivals in other genres seems to be the direction EDM festivals will head”
The question is whether it continues to get bigger. Currently the biggest festivals are housing close to 200,000 people – but when will the logistics of scaling up reach bursting point?
Sources suggest that the structure will divide and segment into smaller boutique type festivals. In much the same way that UK music festivals have gone from big players like Creamfields and Global Gathering and mutated into younger niche festivals in Croatia or Wales.
Although you could argue that this restructure would be a symptom of an ageing audience. EDM is a young crowd but as they get older they’ll most likely be less interested in large crowds and realise that space is a luxury.
The Attraction of Brands to EDM
“Engagement isn’t why consumers are there – be known for building a unique stage and don’t try and alter the course of behaviour”
On the surface EDM doesn’t align with most brands need for a clean slate image. However, EDM is now a buzzword for youth. It’s also a demographic that is becoming increasingly difficult to market to (or so we’re told). Brand managers can see huge potential in a very large, young audience in a small space at a very specific time.
Particularly with the rise of the bigger festival promoters (Live Nation, SFX, Insomniac), it gives brands the option to strike one deal which gives them access to a whole portfolio of festivals around the world.
However, EDM is well known but maybe not well understood. We’ve noticed a range of brand activations that haven’t adapted to their audience or the environment. Activations should align with the surroundings to be part of the bigger experience.