lowest common denominator

We hear a lot of talk by musicians and other "insiders" (who are mostly either aficionados or amateur musicians who aren't doing this kind of thing full-time. I would be included in this list) about entropy in our musical lexicon. We hear talk about DJs not spinning vinyl anymore, thereby making DJing even easier than it once was (and more reliable). We hear about DJs not constructing their set in the same way as they used to, with less variation and care taken to the actual sound levels. The fact that there are people who are paid more money in an hour than most of us are paid in a day, and they aren't even really making sure they don't redline the mixer (which actually can cause damage, I've seen it in real life!) or take care to not ruin their fans' ears, is both sad and hilarious at the same time. After all, your fans aren't going to buy your music anymore if they can't hear it...

Anyway, I'm off track. This post is supposed to be positive, to show the average gormandizer that there isn't some big conspiracy going on and the electronic music community needs people like Skrillex, Deadmau5, and even Tiesto to further its stranglehold on our eardrums. Even though these guys might be less skilled than others who get paid/credited for less, we need them as "evangelists" of our community. Basically, I'm telling you not to tell the emperor that he's not wearing clothes.

musical reaganomics

Reagan proposed the "trickle-down theory" of economics, to the instantaneous praise of many white-haired, over-privileged WASP-like creatures in Congress, and the idea came into America's lexicon just as quickly. While the jury's still out on whether it worked for America, the trickle-down theory of economics has definitely made itself known in the music community, as well as most other forms of mass media. Here's a quick example..

Before Deadmau5 and Skrillex toured the US and spread the "gospel" of electronic music to middle-america kids, it was really difficult to get anyone to respond to The Wonder Bars' music. Nobody really knew what to make of it, and it didn't really help that the only places you could hear it were dirty warehouses or small clubs at the time. I understand that even before my college years (where I was introduced to House music and began composing it), it was much more difficult to find quality house music. But that changed after Deadmau5 played the Electric Factory in Philly. It took a couple years, but now we're seeing an absolute explosion in just about everything that has to do with EDM...

  • There have been 3, count 'em!, THREE new venues in the last 2 years alone that have produced a purely electronic bill every night they're open. This is proof that even in the hardest city to musically make it in America, you can still turn a profit by booking electronic acts.
  • Attendance at PEX parties has increased exponentially every year. HeartBurn was cancelled this year for the first time in its history because a suitable venue could not be found in time.
  • If you have a crew of DJs in Philly and a warehouse you have instant success. Period. There's such a small scene here that those of us who just love that warehouse vibe are forced to go out and hear music like Trap and ratchet-y Dubstep that we may not go out to hear on our own. This is actually a really good thing, because it forces people out of their comfort zone(s) and into new musical territory, which effectively increases our overall comprehension levels for different sounds and types of music.

conclusions

So I like Skrillex. I appreciate Deadmau5, even though I think his music is boring. I like them because they benefit me, by Skrillex existing and turning on new audiences to EDM, the "trickle-down" of House-heads that will inevitably discover the music and be drawn into the love of House increases. It's a numbers game, and while the probability is most likely fractions of a percent, multiplying that by 10,000 or even 100,000 people is still a significant fanbase by default. As a concrete example, take a look at my friends Cousin Brian, who are playing shows all the time in other cities like Richmond, Washington DC and Baltimore, but had trouble finding shows larger than a house basement in Philly. I think they have a big enough name now that they don't have this problem as much as when they started, but compare them with Jack Deezl who has literally played the biggest all-ages electronic venue in Philly, and if I'm not mistaken has been producing and performing music for a much shorter time frame than Cousin Brian has. I think this is significant, because even though there was much less "prep" work that Jack had/has to do to get on stage and play his tunes, the fan base that Jack was tapping into is by default larger than the punk community in Philly, and while Cousin Brian is certainly doing wilder, weirder things with the genre (who the hell plays punk with 9th chords?? amazing!), Jack is going to have an easier time promoting himself because a lot of the groundwork has been done for him by the scene that came before.