By Alexis Rodich, Director of Artist Services, Bandsintown.
Want to know the three most valuable letters in the music industry right now? EDM - the acronym for electronic dance music, which has managed to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in the U.S. alone. In a relatively short amount of time, the genre has single-handedly transformed the landscape of popular music and created a massive sub-culture of "house heads."
Throughout this boom, Bandsintown has worked with a variety of top EDM artists including TiÃ«sto, David Guetta, Skrillex and Armin van Buuren. As these artists and the genre in general began to take hold, we noticed three things that stood out as major drivers of EDM's success: the introduction of Facebook's Open Graph, the artists' willingness to interact with their fans, and the genre's strong embrace of social media.
1. Facebook's Open Graph Gets the Ball Rolling
Unbeknownst to many of the college-age fans who dominate its concerts and festivals today, electronic music has been around for decades. But in all of its years, it has never dominated the U.S. music industry like it does today. In July, a popular blogger who writes under the pseudonym EDMSnob conducted an independent study on "The Explosive Growth of EDM" In it, he noted that between January 2004 and June 2012, "engaged and interested listens and plays" increased approximately 260 percent, with more people listening to EDM in the past three years than in the previous six years combined.
What's significant is that his research indicates rapid growth beginning around mid-2010. This was the time period that marked the emergence of Open Graph, an incredibly powerful platform that customized a Facebook user's experience based on what they and their friends liked. This change took social sharing to the next level. Suddenly, those who had never heard electronica were being exposed to it because a Facebook friend "liked" Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP's "We No Speak Americano," Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction (Afrojack Remix)," or Swedish House Mafia's "One."
2. Artists Build a Base Through Fan Interaction
Facebook's Open Graph was just the framework for exponential social growth. With the industry in transition and record labels no longer the career-makers they once were, a younger and more socially savvy generation of artists began to engage with their newly christened fan bases directly through social channels like Twitter and SoundCloud. They did this consistently and in a way that was genuine, which resonated with fans who endlessly blogged about them and traveled across the country to see them perform live.
David Guetta, with nearly 7 million Twitter followers, often takes the time to respond to fans or re-tweet their messages to or about him. Steve Aoki routinely posts photos from his shows and asks fans to tag themselves to share with their friends. While Aoki and Guetta are two of the bigger stars in the genre, this reciprocation to fans for their constant support is something that every sub-genre under the EDM umbrella has been doing for years. EDM's boom can be attributed to a collective effort of social media marketing by thousands of artists within the same musical genre to connect, share, interact and promote their music and shows digitally.
3. Social Media Strategies Keep the Buzz Going
The fact that the entire genre embraced social media as a marketing channel more so than any other may be the biggest key to EDM's success. Artists across all genres should focus on launching their own concentrated, cohesive fan engagement strategies to level the playing field using every resource in their social media toolbox from Instagram, Beatport and Tumblr to Twitter and BandPage.
EDM's success in this area is illustrated by a great infographic released by Ticketfly detailing the breakdown of online ticket sales for EDM artists versus other genres. At the bottom, they shared four simple guidelines to create socially successful events: sell where your fans are, don't stress about the search, let fans be the promoters, and embrace social media. Artists such as Afrojack and Avicii have been able to craft well-rounded strategies that fulfill all four guidelines, and that is a big reason why EDM events have sold six times more tickets via social media and three times more tickets via Facebook on a mobile device than other events.
With 2012 quickly coming to a close, no one knows which genre will reign supreme in 2013. But you can be sure of one thing: it will need to dominate the digital market by finding a new, meaningful way to connect and promote to fans, just like EDM did.