A great piece by Billboard writer Kerri Mason on recent controversies regarding the mainstreaming of dance music. Part editorial, part joyful reminiscence of her days working at Danny Tenaglia’s club Vinyl. She doesn’t totally agree with the old-timers, but she certainly appreciates their point.
…Avicii literally said this: “I can’t play house for two hours.” Then what in God’s name would you do for 26? When Tenaglia finally closed Vinyl, which was then called Arc, in 2004, he played a 26-hour set…
What does this have to do with today? Not much, really. You can’t ask artists who are essentially pop stars to do things like this. And that’s not a judgment. Dancing Astronaut said that “EDM” just mainstreamed now: I would say that it happened two years ago, when guys like Deadmau5 and Swedish House Mafia got popular more for their brands than for their music or their performances. SHM has five (maybe six, if you count “Leave the World Behind”) tracks to its name: That music made an impression, for sure, but it’s not why they were able to sell out MSG in nine minutes. That was more about what they represented: Jetsetting, hyper-cool international playboys, fist-pumping in the spotlight. Without that mousehead, Deadmau5 would just be a kind of punk-rock bedroom producer with incredibly rich, dominantly instrumental tracks that never cracked the radio. And that is – say it with me now – OK.
The Swedes and others like them are masters at making music that a lot of people like; they know texture, and dynamics, and how to make a drop really hit home. The only way to perform this studio-created music is to play it back. You cannot fault them for that. Festival crowds want to hear this music; it is probably, for most of them, their one chance of the year to experience the given artist. In an hour, there are only so many tracks they can play. The artists have to use this massive platform to promote their own music (and that on their labels), and to keep these modestly (musically) educated, casual fans happy. They have to give them the music that best defines them. It just makes sense.
(HT The Discography)