In recent ethnographic work with millennials nationally, I’ve heard more and more about electronic/dance music (EDM) – across all demos I’ve met with recently, every millennial was adding a little EDM into their playlists or daily routine. Time to take a closer look!
In a poll we ran a few weeks ago, 89% of millennial respondents agreed EDM is becoming more popular among millennials – and 62% of our respondents already listen to EDM.
So what is it about EDM that’s so millennial?
EDM artists are all about access and transparency
Through social media, popular DJs like Skrillex, Steve Aoki and David Guetta offer fans personal access to them, their interactions with other artists, and their creative processes. Here, Kaskade powerfully mashes up fan-submitted media with news coverage and his own footage to honor a recent event for his community.
Participation is EDM’s lingua franca
In all of our research, we hear millennials tell us resoundingly how important it is for their voice and ideas to be heard. EDM’s vibrant, fast-paced world of remixing, commenting, events and video-making is an open invitation for millennial creativity.
…And remixing pushes the genre to be self-sustaining, innovative, fresh
Subdrive Records’ millennial founder, who describes his EDM-focused label as “completely open-source” summed up the innovation dynamic inherent to EDM: “If you buy [EDM artists’] music, you’re invited to be a creator too. EDM is an environment that’s open, constantly fresh, constantly regenerating.” The fast-paced culture’s openness and focus on cocreation jibes well with millennial predispositions.
Good times in a tough period for millennials
For a generation that faces close to 20% unemployment in many areas of the US, music can be an important release: of the 62% of millennial respondents who told us they listen to EDM, 76% listen at a party, and 57% at a bar/club.
An active, inclusive community with values already common among millennials
A millennial fan recently told me that above all, EDM culture values the music (of course!), tolerance, acceptance, and individual expression. The community is active at both EDM IRL events such as Electric Daisy Carnival, as well as online: 90% of EDM fans in our poll interact with other fans regularly on Facebook, and 31% on Twitter.
EDM is definitely the genre to watch as millennials bring it to the mainstream in their own way. At MTV we’ve been really excited about EDM for a while: back in 2008 A-Trak DJ’d the Woodie Awards, followed by Diplo in 2009. This year, there’s a whole new category devoted to the genre. We love engaging with the thriving fanbase, too: @MTVClubland is part of an active community, and we’ll also be at the Winter Music Conference The rise seems to be reflecting back in other parts of culture as well. Skrillex was recently snarked by Gawker and mainstream events like Coachella and the Grammys are including a significant number of EDM acts.
All quantitative data points (excluding unemployment figure) are from February 2012 MTV Proprietary survey of 213 US respondents aged 15-24.
©2015, The Tomorrow Project, LLC