EDM Under Siege?
Is EDM under siege? The increased success of Electronic Dance Music and popularity of large scale festivals has led to several health and public safety concerns. Event sponsors and governmental organizations should work cooperatively to ensure the health and safety of festival attendees. Ticket holding attendees that attend events to witness the culmination of lights, pyrotechnics, music, and overall fun atmosphere of the pinnacle of entertainment should be unobstructed if they follow the venue rules and laws. However, EDM should not be the target of invasive activities that go beyond preserving health and public safety. Basic civil liberties should be maintained and local, state, and federal government public officials should account for the community benefits i.e. charitable contributions of EDM and positive economic benefits of large scale festivals.
The continued success of EDM will require cooperation between authorities, elected officials, and production companies. However, on occasion enthusiasts may need to speak out to defend the industry against government intrusion. A successful example of of EDM supporters reaching out to defend the right to rave goes back to when in 2014 nearly 50,000 people signed a change.org petition opposing an outright ban of the festival that was proposed by City Commissioners and the Mayor. In 2015, organizers of the Miami Ultra Music Festival would put further restrictions on event attendees in response to growing government concerns over health and public safety. The reasonable restriction promote health and public safety are concessions that could be made outside of the threat of banning the event. Cooperative action, as opposed to coercive action, will ultimately lead to a bette and safer event that is a community benefit rather than a nuisance.
Several troubling incidents and indicators can leave EDM enthusiasts to believe that politicians and agencies will target Electronic Dance Music in the future. If you have attended the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas for several years, you will notice that the ticket prices this year are higher than normal. The Nevada legislature passed a bill that would extend the Nevada entertainment tax on events such as EDC and Burning Man. The Las Vegas Review Journal explained the tax issue in-depth article.
Aside from altering the tax status of select EDM events, some local authorities in Los Angeles County recently set up an Electronic Music Task Force that will consider governmental action to make events safer, but will also consider banning events altogether. The task force was prompted by the death of two individuals during the August Hard Summer Festival. The promoter of Hard Summer has already canceled an event and reduced attendee cap at their Halloween event from 65,000 to 40,000.
Other examples of governmental action against EDM include the ongoing discussion of noise restrictions at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside of Denver, Colorado. The noise restrictions would several hurt the ability for EDM performers to hold shows at the venue and subsequently another change.org petition was created to address the issue before the City and County authorities that has already reach nearly 20,000 signatures.
September has already been a busy month of clashes between EDM and authorities over several events at their safety. According to the San Bernadino County Sun, early in September 32 people were hospitalized and nearly 300 arrested at the Nocturnal Wonderland Festival at San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, California. The Burning Man Festival in Nevada also held in late August and early September even had the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the audience to collect intelligence on drug activity and anti-terrorism security. Unfortunately, many politicians and agencies do not understand the value of EDM in terms of community benefits and economic output.
In addition to signing the change.org petitions, EDM enthusiasts should call upon the industry leaders to educate lawmakers on the benefits of the unique form of entertainment and even launch public affairs campaigns directed at improving the image of EDM. We can expect more and more restrictions if the industry does not work with government officials and successful position EDM away from drug culture. A few elected officials like Presidential candidate and US Senator Marco Rubio already understand the value, but we have a long way to go. Hopefully one day, the National Park Service will issue a permit for an EDM event on the National Mall so Congress can hear and support the right to rave.
Could you imagine a world without EDM festivals?