EDM is a $7B industry. But how did Electronic Dance Music get so popular?


There’s no doubt that EDM (electronic dance music) is the fastest-growing music right now. With superstar Top 100 DJs like Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and Tiësto leading the pack, electronic dance music’s popularity has exploded in the past decade.

(Read: Top 3 Brands Spending Millions on ‘EDM’)

From Electronic dance music festivals, to BPM radio, and collaborating with some of the worlds top DJs. EDM artists and DJs are getting a lot of attention lately, along with money; and fame.

And according to the 2016 IMS Business reports more people are going clubbing and partying everyday,

The EDM Rankings don’t lie, Forbes’ top 10 EDM artists have produced a combined $268 million this year,  That’s 11% more than 2013, 66$ million of it was from Calvin Harris alone making him the richest top EDM musician for 2014.

But before all this happened, Lets explain how EDM really started.

calvin-harris top 100 djs

Calvin Harris

How did (EDM) begin?

How did electronic dance music grow from a small underground cult into a global worldwide phenomenon we see today? How have the original artists from the beginning grown with it? Where is Electronic dance music going next? To find out we will look at some of the biggest electronic dance music festivals in the world, TomorrowWorld, and getting news from the worlds top DJs like Tiësto and David Guetta.

How and Where EDM Started

Electronic dance music (EDM) is not a new genre. It’s hard to pinpoint a date and location about the beginnings of EDM. Some say Germany, Some say London, others say EDM started in Chicago and Detroit, But it was really a global love for music across 3 continents that played a role in the rise of electronic dance music, North America, Europe, and Australia.

Germany’s Love Parade

But many will agree that the single place which really ignited the spark for EDM to begin and explode was with Germany’s electronic dance music Love Parade. Love parade first started in 1989 but really exploded in 2008 with 1.6 million people attending, It is still the largest parade to date.

2010 Love Parade Accident

At the 2010 Love Parade all 1.4 million attendees were forced to walk thru a tunnel to reach the other side of the festival, It was only planned to handle 800,000 people. Due to a small tunnel that many people were forced to walk thru, For some unknown reason many panicked and a stampede started inside the tunnel. The accident killed 21 people and injured 500 others.

At the 2010 Love Parade in Duisburg, the number of people attending allegedly reached 1.4 million – the original expectation was around 800,000 – whereas police believed around 400,000 people were present. 21 people were killed, and more than 500 injured, in an incident near an overcrowded tunnel leading into the festival. At least 20 casualties resulted from suffocation, caused by crowd pressure.


Now Love parade no longer exists, and has since been replaced by many EDM festivals we all know of today.

David Guetta, who began to DJ disco in 1980s Paris, Recalls how the electronic music movement began when the disco era was dying.

There was a movement called ‘disco sucks’

David Guetta

It was a shame to like disco, but then there was no music to dance to, so some DJs started to use old disco records, but the B-sides and the A Capella’s, and we began producing beats with drum machines.

David Guetta

What David means is, DJs injected disco music into people’s ears on the dance floor.

I remember buying those records and the label (vinyl sticker),” says Guetta. “(DJs) would use old records and print on top of it, melt it, and print on the top…very low quality, this was super, super underground.

David Guetta

Disco was the pre EDM music to EDM today.

I started in ’88 to play House music, it was a huge revolution for me. I went to London and I saw a DJ on stage and that was crazy at the time. I was one of the really respected and famous DJs in Paris, but they would never show me. I was hidden. A DJ on stage and people dancing and facing the DJ, looking at him? I was like ‘wow!

David Guetta

Read: How astonishing EDM visuals are revolutionizing festival experiences

skrillex mothership tour

Skrillex Mothership Tour

A few years later, in the early 90’s in a small town of Breda, Netherlands, Tijs Michiel Verwest (DJ Tiesto) began his journey to becoming Tiësto,  A trip to Spain and some parties mixed with a general love for music got Tiesto interested in becoming a DJ.

Back then, first of all, we all played vinyl records, so even when you knew the track, you could not get it. Everything was very exclusive


Tiësto, The worlds Top DJ, Known for bribing a fast paced four-to-the-floor ‘Trancey’ dance genre with high energetic bright sounds and groovy rhythms that was completely underground dance music to the masses.

That’s the big difference with nowadays, because when you jam to a track you already know what it is, and then right away you have the song in your phone or your laptop…that was a very magical period because you played a track and people said ‘I know this track,’ but they still couldn’t find it. That was very special


From underground to the masses

madonna avicii

Madonna and Avicii at Ultra Music Festival

Electronic Dance music tracks are breaking records, and still rising.

Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up” was streamed over 294 million times on Spotify, It sold more than 8.5 million copies worldwide and spent over 1 year on billboards top 100 list.

David Guetta has found mainstream success by collaborating with pop stars like Kelly Rowland, and The Black Eyed Peas, for whom he produced the single ‘I Gotta Feeling’ in 2009. Other famous DJ’s, including Calvin Harris and Avicii have also found success this way.

Social media has also played essential roles in EDM blowing up. Today, in the digital era success is also measured in followers, video hits, downloads, hashtags, tweets, re tweets and likes.

Read: 10 super underrated DJs who deserve to be stars

All we did for one year is talk to DJs by Facebook and somehow that got us our first gig. Social media has been the biggest factor in our career.

Dimitri Thivaios

Said 1/2 of the Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike duo, Dimitri Thivaios.

In Europe and the Americas, mainly, there are an increasing number of electronic music festivals; events that gather people from all over the world and celebrate in unison. The TomorrowWorld festival celebrated outside of Atlanta, Georgia, gathered 160,000 people from 75 countries this year, according to the organizers.

It’s like a theme park for adults

Dimitri Thivaios


Electronic Dance Music Festivals are becoming the new trend for Millennial’s.

Electronic Dance Music Festivals are becoming the new trend for millennial’s. In the summer of 2014, More than 400,000 EDM fans arrived from more than 50 countries across the globe to grather in the little Belgian town of ‘BOOM’ for Tomorrowland, The biggest electronic dance music festival in the world.

2014 Tomorrowland Electronic Dance Music Festival Facts:

  • Cheapest ticket sold was $300.00
  • Tickets were sold-out within 1 hour
  • 3 million social media mentions
  • 400 DJs
  • 1 Million beers sold

Not all genres can brag about selling out festivals with over 150,000 attendees in a matter of minutes.

Some will argue Bonnaroos and the Coachella’s festivals of the world, but those offer a wider range of musical variety, Such as pop, rock, indie and even some country.

“When I’m on stage I’m looking out and seeing everyone putting up their flags from hundreds of different countries, representing hundreds of different cultural lifestyles. They’re all jumping in unison forming almost like one entity, one spiritual being,”

Steve Aoki

EDM was unlikely to become this popular if it couldn’t generate large amounts of money.

A recent study showed that EDM is a $6.2 billion global industry. Very well close to the 7 billion dollar mark, Which EDM will surely pass that evaluational in 2015.

Most of the money comes from the EDM festivals, Las Vegas clubs, and other global EDM gigs. Which has caught the eye of big brands like Sprite, Who sponsor Tiesto to DJ in a special EDM video promotion for the brand.

Live events represent the largest piece of the $6.2 billion dollar EDM industry.

Booming business is great, But is EDM getting better?

EDM has been highly criticized. Many see EDM as an art that lost its purity. “It’s an evolution. The thing is that, every musical genre starts from the underground, gets trendy, then it becomes popular, and then it dies or it is reinvented in a different way

David Guetta

Many wonder if EDM is at his highest point. Is this its climax? Or will it end soon, just like Disco did?

They’ve been asking me that since 1994, ‘is it going to end?’ I always say I don’t know. It keeps evolving, every year something new comes up, and now it’s at the highest it ever has been, so now I don’t know how much higher and how much better it’ll get


Photo Credit: Rukes

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