Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeMusicA rave new world: Electronic music report 2024 | IQ Magazine

A rave new world: Electronic music report 2024 | IQ Magazine


On the back of the recent publication of the IMS Business Report 2024, DJ Mag editor-in-chief Carl Loben takes a look at the key numbers and trends that are shaping the global electronic music scene, as this year’s summer season kicks off in Ibiza.

In a packed conference room at the airy Hyde Hotel in Cala Llonga, near Santa Eulalia on the Balearic isle of Ibiza, delegates of the annual International Music Summit (IMS) are abuzz with anticipation. IMS has been staged since 2007, and co-founders Pete Tong MBE, music mogul Ben Turner, and Ibiza promoter Danny Whittle kick off the 2024 edition with some warm introductory words, offset by remarks by co-host Jaguar Bingham from BBC Introducing, representing the new generation.

The summit then launches straight into the IMS Business Report, presented again this year by its chief author, Mark Mulligan from MIDiA Research. “2022 was an unusual year, in that it reflected the post-pandemic bounce-back effect for live,” Mulligan begins. “There was a risk that 2023 would struggle to live up to those inflated expectations. But instead, the electronic music industry grew strongly once again, with impressive growth across virtually all of its constituent parts.” He goes on to explain that it wasn’t streaming growth that lifted up the industry’s revenues; physical music reportedly went back into strong growth and expanded rights — merch etc — was the industry shifting further towards a fan economy, especially evidenced by the rise in African electronic music in recent times.

Publishing has also grown, Mulligan says, but it’s the live sector that’s performing strongest in terms of growth. Live is still growing rapidly and was a significant contributor to why the electronic music industry finished the financial year up 17% to a valuation of $11.8bn. Festivals and clubs continue to dominate revenues — nearly half of the industry total — in what the report calls a “golden era.”

“Following the Covid downturn, the global live music market is bigger and better than ever,” says the report, with a graph showing that Live Nation and Eventim revenues are up $6.4bn to $25.1bn per year. “Pent-up lockdown interest has
translated into two years of increased demand, with tickets both more expensive and sold in larger quantities,” it says.

“Artists like Fisher, Fred again.., Rüfüs du Sol, and Dom Dolla have been doing stunning business in venues that have typically been considered live concert venues. The game is changing, and quickly”

As has been pored over endlessly, the industry has changed irrevocably since the digital revolution this century. Gone are the days when most acts could make a living just from record sales alone — there has to be a live element to top up the income shortfall for most. Even a huge electronic music brand like Defected has to make around half of its money in the live space. “About 45% of our revenue comes from recordings and publishing and about 45% from the events and the agency,” says Wez Saunders, Defected CEO, who have Defected, D4 D4nce, and Glitterbox nights in big Ibiza venues this summer, as well as their own Defected Festival in Croatia in July, plus 400 other nights each year.

Artists, too, must make much of their income from live — it’s still the main activity that pays the bills. There is still a creative paradox for some, however, according to the report. 60% of DJs report that gigs aren’t paying more than pre-pandemic levels and also that it is harder to get gigs. More than 50% of DJs report that DJing is a bigger source of income than royalties and  yet making music matters most to the overwhelming number of DJs surveyed — for 85%, making music is more important personally than DJing. The paradox is that performing is where DJs make their money but making music matters most to them.

In most circles, a DJ show is now more widely accepted as being on a par with the performance by a band. “DJ shows can sell as well as gigs with bands and singers, whether this be in greenfield sites, stadiums, or arenas,” says Tim McGregor, MD of TEG Live in Australia. “All the big eye-popping performances at Coachella this year (and last) seemed to be electronic – Justice, Dom Dolla, and Anyma/Eric Prydz in 2024. Artists like Fisher, Fred again.., Rüfüs du Sol, and Dom Dolla have been doing stunning business in venues that have typically been considered live concert venues. The game is changing, and quickly.”

“Electronic music is working its way up, although it is important not to discount live shows,” says Monty McGaw, head of electronic at Untitled Group, Australia’s largest independently owned music and events company. “Both need to co-exist and DJ shows should be given equal importance in the music industry.”

The DJ has long moved out from the dark corner of a nightclub and into the spotlight. Indeed, DJ shows have shown that, in some circumstances, they can command audiences on a par with big live electronic acts such as The Prodigy, Rudimental, Orbital, Underworld, Bicep, and The Chemical Brothers. Arena shows by the likes of EDM stalwarts Tiësto and David Guetta; drum & bass don Andy C; UK legends like Carl Cox and Fatboy Slim; and the Skrillex x Four Tet x Fred again.. triumvirate have essentially shown that a DJ show can rival a band experience in the venues traditionally the preserve of the rock & pop or hip-hop scenes.

“Proportionally, we do see bigger numbers of sales for electronic events. Drum & bass and techno have recently seen significant resurgences”

That’s a situation that’s not lost on those tasked with getting tickets into the hands of the fans. “Historically, we’ve always catered for and sold more tickets to electronic music events than we have for live gigs, as it was the electronic scene upon which Skiddle was formed some 23 years ago,” says Duncan King, head of festivals and partnerships at Skiddle. “However, this is a trend we’ve noticed steadily changing in recent years. We’ve seen the traditional live gig sector double in size, popularity, and revenue, with other alternative and more lifestyle-focused event types also seeing rapid growth.

“Proportionally, we do see bigger numbers of sales for electronic events. Drum & bass and techno have recently seen significant resurgences, particularly among 18 to 24 year olds, making these genres the top choices. Leading the charge are artists like Azyr, blk., Aiden, and Sara Landry. There’s an exciting micro-culture that’s been formed from modern techno, affecting everything from the traditional event format to the fashion choices of attendees.”

Of course, the visual element has come to be of critical importance to these electronic shows — whether a DJ or live act. Production design is critical to the impact these DJ shows can make on audiences, says McGregor. “Some of the major EDM festivals have continued to set a very high bar in this regard, and so DJs, for their own headline shows, are now very focused on creating a substantial point of difference and authentic engagement with live audiences who are seeking an elevated experience. Some of the production designs we are now seeing are, as a consequence, absolutely stunning.”

For the bigger DJ-led acts, it’s not just a case of the DJ turning up to the venue with a couple of USBs and some headphones. Some have a touring team that matches any rock band’s show for spectacle and bombast.

“With the bigger shows crossing over more into commercial festivals/spaces, there really is the expectation that being a performer in your own right is important,” says McGaw. “Production and stage presence is important to captivate these audiences and match the energy of a live headline band in some senses.”

“Not everyone has the economic capacity to go to many events per year, so people are being very picky about where they spend their hard-earned money”

One touring event brand that stages spectacular shows, where inordinate care and detail is given to production, is Elrow. The Spanish company is almost like a touring circus — they travel around with confetti cannons, giant inflatables, around 100 performers, dancers, stilt walkers, and the like, and create fun immersive parties that generally operate around a theme. Past themes have included Sambowdromo Do Brasil, inspired by the Rio de Janeiro carnival; the self-explanatory Horroween: El Bowsque Encantado (The Enchanted Forest); Psychedelic Trip, inspired by the hippie subculture, and so on. Taking their cue from mega fests such as Tomorrowland in Belgium, EDC in Las Vegas, and the Block9 fields at Glastonbury, touring Elrow events have the production values of festivals sandwiched into one night’s spectacular party.

The quality of Elrow’s DJs is still high — they book many of the top names from the underground house and techno scenes. And post-Covid, as soon as events were allowed again, Elrow came flying out of the traps. “People had stayed indoors for a long time, with no events and no travelling — everyone was hungry for more,” says Victor de la Serna, music director of Elrow.

However, live ticket sales have somewhat levelled off internationally in certain territories for Elrow, as the cost-of-living crisis in some countries has started to bite. “I think the hunger people had is now gone and has been substituted by recession in some European countries,” says De la Serna. “The cost of living has gone drastically up and that has been felt all across entertainment generally, so things have changed a lot since that ‘summer of love,’ post-Covid.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, De la Serna suggests that open-air shows have been clearly favoured after Covid. “The way I think the industry is moving, is towards a more experiential event,” he says. “In these times, I think the whole experience counts for many people. Like I said, not everyone has the economic capacity to go to many events per year, so people are being very picky about where they spend their hard-earned money. Experiential events, where the fan experience is put first, I think, are the way forward, in order to set yourself apart from the rest.”

The report also states that ticket sales continue to rise in Ibiza. The International Music Summit is the de facto launch of the Ibiza season, with most of the big super clubs, such as Ushuaia, Hï Ibiza, Pacha, and Amnesia staging their opening parties. The Night League, owners of Ushuaia and Hï Ibiza (the latter of which has just been voted the No.1 club in the world by readers of DJ Magazine) have also reportedly bought the old Privilege club in the middle of the island. The 10,000-capacity club was formerly in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest club in the world but has chiefly been closed or partially shuttered these past few years. Currently undergoing a multimillion-euro redevelopment, it’s set to increase Ibiza’s ticket-selling potential manifold when it opens at the start of the 2025 season on the island.

“The pandemic, I believe, has slowed down touring development in places like China that have been super restrictive, but some areas like Asia and India are super interesting to grow”

Elsewhere in the world, Asia is the continent with the biggest potentially developing market. “Asia has two-thirds of the world’s population, and new events are popping up all the time,” says McGaw. “Asia has broad tastes in music and is still very young as a market.”

“We’re seeing parts of Asia really starting to get more consistent traction, e.g. Indonesia, Thailand, and Philippines,” agrees McGregor. “And increasingly, in the Middle East, too. These markets now come into strong consideration when routing tours down to Australia.”

Electronic music brands have had varying successes when taking their events out beyond the continent of their birth. Creamfields, Ultra, and Tomorrowland have held huge festivals in territories like South America and parts of Asia; clubbing brands like Ministry of Sound have held tours in Australia/New Zealand, Asia, and the Far East; while other club nights have expanded beyond their home countries in more of a microcosmic way. Most will agree, though, that the United States remains somewhat of a holy grail for many ambitious countries. “I think the USA is still, to this day, a big market worth exploring,” says De la Serna. “The pandemic, I believe, has slowed down touring development in places like China that have been super restrictive, but some areas like Asia and India are super interesting to grow. At the same time, these are difficult territories to work in traditionally, but I believe the rewards can be very good.”

Skiddle’s King agrees. “Economic prosperity in countries such as China, Australia, and South Korea is positively impacting the development of already robust markets. Electronic scenes in nations across Asia especially are maturing, creating new names, and drawing in bigger audiences. Infrastructure around these scenes is also developing and in places such as Thailand, tax waivers and import duty exemptions for organisers of large international concerts, sporting events, and festivals are being offered to boost tourism.

“We expect to see these markets flourish over the next few years with internationally established event brands and artists capitalising on these tax-free zones, producing more large-scale events and festivals,” opines King.

“Fans love going to live shows, but mistakes are being made when such ticket price increases are attempted in markets where cost-of-living pressures have bitten hard on discretionary spending”

The main challenge for somebody like De la Serna, whose events rely so spectacularly on the overall immersive experience, is the cost of staging such events. “The main thing is the crazy increase year on year of all production costs related to putting on an event,” he says. “The cost of fuel, rentals, equipment etc. has gone through the roof compared to pre-pandemic. Also, artist fees have skyrocketed, and as such, running a successful and profitable event is more and more challenging.”

De la Serna goes on to point out that various difficult factors lead to the costs being passed on to the consumers at the point of sale. “Adding to the over-saturation in certain markets, the same lineups in many events, and these increased costs present a huge challenge for promoters, especially because, many times, these increases affect the ticket or drinks price in order to make these events successful,” he says. Promoters need to be careful not to price too many potential customers out of the market.

“Pressures are really similar to other parts of the live entertainment industry,” concurs McGregor. “Post-Covid, we have seen huge increases in labour, infrastructure, and equipment costs to stage events which, combined with substantial increases in artist performance fees, make it more challenging to deliver shows without significantly increasing historical ticket prices. Fans love going to live shows, but mistakes are being made when such ticket price increases are attempted in markets where cost-of-living pressures have bitten hard on discretionary spending. Getting the balance right is tougher than ever.”

“There’s also a risk of losing talented live artists,” reckons McGaw. “There’s a need for diversity in live spaces, and the importance of representing various paces and styles of music. There is a risk of the industry becoming too homogeneous and programmers taking a cookie-cutter approach.”

Noting that the sector is definitely not immune to the cost-of-living crisis, ticketing exec King tells IQ, “Trends observed through the analysis of our data show that sales are still strong but that many are happening much later in the campaign as eventgoers delay their decisions about making purchases.

“Our customers are more inclined to part ways with their hard-earned funds for events which offer more in the way of experiences”

“Our customers are more inclined to part ways with their hard-earned funds for events which offer more in the way of experiences, usually day-long events or festivals. This could include anything from VIP villages to immersive installations and secret stages.”

Nevertheless, the electronic music scene’s diversity is one of its core strengths. There are new acts breaking through all the time, spurred on by technological developments, although it takes a lot for a new act to achieve headline billing in just a few years.

In the DJ world, acts like Amelie Lens, Peggy Gou, Charlotte de Witte, and Nina Kraviz have become headliners in their own right, and these women are now at a higher earning capacity than many of their male counterparts. But more generally, there’s a tendency to undervalue the contributions of women, reflected in the continuing pay gap: women creators are nearly twice as likely as men to discover they are being paid less than their peers in the same or similar roles, according to the IMS Business Report.

The report also states that on principle download site Beatport, Afro-house is now the tenth-biggest genre, indicating the ever-growing influence of African electronic music culture. Elsewhere, on youth platform TikTok, the hashtag #Amapiano (a subgenre of kwaito and house music) saw nearly 10bn views, up 166% on its previous year.

The challenge for the industry is to continue to cement diversity within lineups and to continue to expand into growing markets without compromising on fees and production in a way that short-changes the paying punter.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.





Source link

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments

Verified by MonsterInsights