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How EDM Will Be Celebrated At This Year’s VMAs

556540_10151052168731169_409879220_nMTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) debuted in
1984 from New York City's Radio City Music Hall and has since grown to
become one of television's most watched live events. This year continues the tradition
of a star-studded lineup of presenters and performers from all over the music
world, but playing a more prominent role than ever before will be electronic
dance music (EDM)
, coming off an explosive year and huge surge in popularity throughout North America.

Recognizing EDM’s big year, MTV has created new
category for the 2012 VMAs: Best Electronic Dance Music Video. This category recognizes some of EDM’s biggest names including Skrillex, Avicii,
Calvin Harris, Martin Solveig, and Duck Sauce
. The category itself has risen
from quite the evolutionary metamorphosis. Back in 1989, MTV began awarding VMAs
for Best Dance Video, only to cut the category in
2007 and bring it back in 2008 under a new name: Best Dancing in a
. The category was absent in 2009, but again brought back and
renamed in 2010 as Best Dance Music Video. After another absent year in 2011, the award has again been revived and
renamed for 2012 as Best Electronic Dance Music Video.

The Best EDM Music Video award
is a respectful nod of recognition to the EDM community and signifies that this
is an important genre of music that deserves to stand side-by-side with the
genres like pop and hip-hop on music’s biggest night,” says MTV’s Executive
Vice President of Music and Talent, Amy Doyle. “For us, the award represents
the latest mile marker in what’s been an incredible EDM journey that started in

MTV’s mtvU network, a 24-hour
television channel available exclusively on more than 750 college and
university campuses across the United States, serves an incubator for MTV to experiment
with emerging artists and genres with an audience that is usually ready to
embrace something different and fresh.

the case of EDM, we started adding EDM artists into video rotation back in 2008
and instantly received strong feedback from the fans,” Doyle told Hypebot. “Based on
that reaction, we added more artists and videos and broke new ground later
that year by having A-Track serve as the house DJ at our annual mtvU Woodie
Awards, which celebrates emerging artists.”

Over the course of the next few years, MTV steadily
kept increasing the amount of EDM artists on the channel, as well as expanding
to other channels and brands like MTV, MTV2, MTV News and MTV Hive.

“In 2009, we had Diplo serve as house DJ at the
Woodies and working with MTV News, we started to really profile and interview
these DJs, and aggressively cover the various EDM festivals,” Doyle continued.
“In August of 2011, MTV launched Clubland, the first EDM music video block
series that airs weekly Monday through Thursdays. The show has quickly
established a loyal following of fans and has become the place for EDM artists,
including Avicii, Wolfgang Gartner, Kaskade, Steve Aoki, Amtrac, Nervo and
Felix Cartal to premiere new music videos.”

This year’s VMAs is set to be broadcasted from the
Staples Center in Los Angeles, the show’s biggest venue to date. Doyle says
that this decision was made to be reflective of the EDM explosion.

“We were really inspired by how EDM festivals were
so large, yet still allowed the artists to have an intimate relationship with
the fan,” she said. “Going into the Staples Center, we wanted to capture that
feeling. While I don’t want to give a lot away, I can reveal that the set
design and many of the performances have been crafted with the idea of bringing
the audience directly into the moment. Calvin Harris [nominee for Best EDM Video] is serving as the house DJ and going to do a full-on hour long set for
audience before the show starts to get them amped and ready, and will then drive
the various acts of the show.”

Doyle and MTV have been around long enough to witness key turning points in EDM that were clear
indicators that the scene was more than an underground thing, and perhaps destined
for the U.S. mainstream.

A few years ago, a couple
members of my team who were passionate about DeadMau5 showed me a DVD of a
performance he did in the UK,” Doyle said. “It was indescribable. Shortly
after, I went to see him at EDC and couldn’t believe how many thousands of
people were there. There is nothing underground about a jam-packed LA Coliseum.
A few weeks after that, we made Deadmaus5 an offer to be the house DJ at the
VMAs. We got such great feedback from the audience that it was a no brainer for
us to find ways to embrace and showcase EDM across all of our screens. We then
watched as attendance at EDM festivals began to grow into the hundreds of
thousands and EDM artists became rock stars in their own right. Artists like
Rihanna and Ne-Yo began to court and recruit EDM artists like Calvin Harris,
who infused the electronic sound into their songs, which are now all over
mainstream radio.”

As EDM continues its rise in popularity, some feel
it is destined to fade away as part of a short-lived explosion in the U.S.,
while others – including Doyle – believe that it is here to stay.

think it’s just starting to hit critical mass now where artists like Avicii, Skrillex,
Calvin Harris, and Deadmau5 are truly becoming rock stars and household names,”
she said. “Now and in the coming year, I think we’ll hear more and more EDM on
pop radio. I also believe that the fans want to keep the movement fresh and it will
continue to evolve as fans rally around emerging EDM artists and sub-genres.”

The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards airs this Thursday from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Hypebot’s Hisham
will be in attendance during the VMAs, so be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter for photos and tweets from the event.

Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud

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