How people experience live music has changed over the years. The rise of DJ-oriented electronic music festivals highlights a significant break from the traditional concert experience. While still popular today, a concert typically features a single performer for a few hours in a concert hall, stadium or arena. This experience differs in many ways from the growing trend of DJ-oriented electronic music festivals.
Music Festival Trends: A Growing Industry With an Enthusiastic Base
This growing industry takes live music to a new level and typically appeals to a younger audience. A Nielsen poll from 2015 shows that an estimated 32 million people attend music festivals each year. By way of comparison, the population of Texas is just under 27 million. Of those 32 million, 14.7 million are millennials born between 1980 and 1996.
Electronic dance music festivals are not new to the music scene. They began almost 45 years ago and have undergone a number of changes over the years. In the late 1970s, disco was declared “dead.” However, the demand for dance music was still strong, so it went underground and was reborn in the hands of DJs, whose performances enabled partygoers to dance all day and all night.
The emergence and popularity of the DJ is a major difference between a typical concert and a dance music festival. Today, some festivals rely on the energetic following of popular DJs, whom they reward handsomely. Forbes reports that, in 2012, the 10 highest paid DJs garnered a total of $115 million. One particularly popular DJ made $22 million in 2014.
Music festival trends continue to focus on danceable rhythms and relentless beats from popular DJs in order to appeal to audiences who view music more as a lifestyle than entertainment — most festivals span several days. By using the Internet for marketing, coordination and promotion, music festivals continue to see explosive growth: a single festival can generate multiple millions for a local economy and can require as many as 500 workers. There is even a lobbying group called The Association for Electronic Music. The industry as a whole brought in approximately $4 billion worldwide in 2012. Unlike a traditional concert, an electronic music festival can last multiple days with numerous artists and DJs performing. The emphasis is on the experience for the audience. Video, live streaming, and accommodations to make the consumer comfortable are often available.
The Popularity of Electronic Music Festivals
Almost every state boasts a music festival, and many electronic music festival fans travel great distances to see their favorite performers — 903 miles on average, which is about the driving distance from Jacksonville, FL to New York. Many attendees see these events as a way to express themselves among people with whom they share an affinity, and they are willing to spend the time and money for the experience.
The numbers illustrate that music festivals are popular and sustainable, and they will continue to grow economically. The history of music festivals illustrates that the industry will adapt to changing times and interests, so where it goes in the future is anyone's guess.
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