Today, The Guardian published a piece called "And the brands played on: how EDM can sell almost anything." In it, writer James Hall takes a look at the realities of corporate sponsorship for the genre, arguing that "not since the hip-hop boom of the early 90s have corporations leapt on a scene so vigorously." The article asks what kinds of deals are being made, how popular DJs feel about the current arrangements, and how brands are affecting the balance of power in the music industry.
Exploring the link between DJs and big business, Hall points to the importance of social media to the current dance music economy: "The more followers DJs have, the more brands want to work with them and higher they climb up the various rankings of success," he argues. "Brands and DJs are therefore entwined in a mutually beneficial ecosystem based on social media followers, patronage and, ultimately, money."
The piece contains an interview with Steve Aoki, where the superstar DJ says that he is comfortable with corporate involvement, but only if it stays true to the culture of EDM. "'If some cigarette or alcohol sponsor comes in and says, "Here's a bunch of my stuff, let me just take what you guys have and put our name next to it," people can see how fake that is,'" he says. "'People aren't stupid.'"
Las Vegas DJ 3LAU is also quoted in the piece, pointing out some of the potential perils of brand-DJ synergy relationship on the long run: "'I don't think brands will have a lot of control in the short term,'" he says, "'but I definitely think in the long term as they get more involved they will feel more need to exercise their control.'"
The piece ends with something of a note of warning, echoing 3LAU's concerns about the likely increase of corporate involvement down the line and the "encroachment" it can entail; read the whole thing here.
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