Benjamin Button DJ’s: What Does it Really Take to Become Established in the EDM Industry?
I’ll never forget when I first heard of Porter Robinson – it was during my Freshman year of college, and my friend had recently shown me the track “Say My Name.”
“God damn, this track is dope!” I thought to myself as I listened to the raunchy electro-house sounds seep through my earbuds. What was even more shocking to me was this young DJ’s age – he was only 18, younger than me! At the time this was pretty unheard of; Porter Robinson was a young genius in my eyes.
Soon after, it seemed like Porter had begun a young DJ revolution – other young prodigies such as Madeon (only 19 years old) and XXYYXX popped up, creating equally amazing tracks. I mean, just listen to “Technicolor” and “DMT” – I wish I had such a skill set when I was younger than 20!
Technicolor – Madeon
DMT – XXYYXX
This “young DJ revolution,” as I’ll start calling it now, was pretty great. These teens produced extremely high-quality tracks, and had some serious skills behind the decks as well. However, recently it seems like this revolution has taken an almost comical turn for the worse. We’ll start with 17-year-old Martin Garrix: over the summer of 2013, this young Dutch teen released a song called “Animals” that soon became a massive hit and continues to be overplayed in festivals around the world. Effectively, “Animals” kicked off a new trend in “progressive house music” where almost every major producer decided to ditch their usual styles in favor of a faux-hardstyle kick, a dramatic buildup, a drop that makes bros rage and fist pump, and overly loud synths.
It seems that Garrix not only started this new trend in music, but also a new gimmick: being an absurdly young DJ. People were shocked that this mere 17-year-old was landing headlining sets and raking in about $100,000 per gig. Following his success, new headlines began to take over EDM websites, often about young talent. For example, a few months ago America was taken by storm by Elle Morgan, a 12-year-old DJ who was planning on opening a kid dance club in Texas, and Madeon even gained a bit more fame for his age as well, despite having been around for a while already.
Fast-forward to this morning and we have a new, even younger DJ making headlines. Aiden Jude, the 10 year-old DJ pictured above, seems to be taking the world by storm – most likely because he is only a child. Little Aiden combines both of today’s music trends: big-room house and extremely young age. His track, to be released on Beatport this evening, combines all the elements of modern “progressive house” (according to Beatport categorization) to create a piece that sounds exactly like all of the other Top 10 tracks on the website. Is it really progressive? Not really. However, the fact that he is 10 and that he has stayed within the current EDM norm has skyrocketed him to success.
With DJ’s like Aiden Jude shrinking in age, creating tracks with the same mold, and rising to fame, this begs several questions. For one, what does it really take to make it in the EDM world these days? At first, it was innovative and creative music. Now, I’m not so sure that’s the case. The most lucrative tracks are all the “festival bangers,” and lately I’ve only heard of producers of these types of tracks getting signed. I find this to be a little sad; not only is this new way to success making things more difficult for producers who do not want to stray from their own style, but it is also giving a monotonous reputation to the current EDM industry, with new fans rarely ever getting exposed to any other genre.
What about age? Is that really becoming another factor? Apparently, yes. A colleague of mine here at Only The Beat made a very valid point:
“His gimmick is that he’s 10, he’s just ‘doing’ things that no one has seen before.”
Based off the fact that young age is quickly becoming headline material, it makes sense that more and more children are making songs and trying to gain fame at an early age.
This brings me to my final question: is all of this even healthy? Yes, there are child actors and singers out there. However, being a DJ is relatively different. In a sense, being a famous DJ today is what being a rock star was like in the 1980’s: money flows (again, if you make the right kind of track), you get groupies, and you live your life by touring and bouncing around from club-to-club. Isn’t this lifestyle a bit much for a 10 year-old? I can’t imagine spinning at a popular dance club at that age. Plus, the material rock-star life could have a negative impact on such a young mind and could cause problems in the future, seen in many child stars such as Lindsey Lohan, etc. Let’s be real, Paris Hilton can’t possibly be a good influence on that kid, right?
Unfortunately to some, myself included, it would appear that these pathways to stardom are here to stay, for the moment. A large amount of fans are sure to eat this track up, and find it even cooler that a 10 year-old made it into the scene. However, this could also be a catalyst for a change; perhaps this could be a breaking point for fans who do not like this direction to make a change of their own! I sure hope it will happen. Until then, I suppose I’ll keep my eye out for the next child star…
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