There's Still A Lot of Money to Be Made in Dance Music, Report Says

Today began the tenth International Music Summit (IMS), where electronic music industry folk gather on its home base of Ibiza to talk the state of the business. To kick off the weekend conference, strategy and insight specialist Kevin Watson of Danceonomics shared his annual IMS Business Report, which reveals that despite any talks of slowing down, the industry is still growing. Here are some chief findings and interesting observations we gleaned from the report:

Electronic artists, put your music on streaming services pronto

According to the report, the number of paid subscribers to music streaming services grew a staggering 65 percent in 2016, from 68 million to 112 million. The report also found that electronic music generates 12 billion streams per month on Spotify. In the US, dance music’s share of total audio consumption grew from 3.4 percent in 2015 to 4 percent in 2016, with 57 percent of total “sales” from streaming—the highest of any genre in the country.

Latin American market is growing

Though the US and Europe lead in global electronic music streams, Mexico and Brazil are in the top ten at No. 4 and 7, respectively. Overall, Latin America has shown the highest regional music sales growth with total revenue up by 24 percent. On the live events side, the region has become an emerging hot spot with brands such as Ultra, EDC, and Tomorrowland holding festivals in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

Social media is still a major key

EDM fans have been shown to be the most social group out of all music fans, so an Internet presence is crucial for artists. Of all the platforms to be posting on, Instagram is the most important. Looking back on the past three months, the report indicates that the most popular artists have seen the most growth of their online fanbases on Instagram; its growth rate is shown to be 11 times that of Facebook’s. Another interesting observation: The Chainsmokers are adding 28 thousand social media followers daily… guess people really do want to get “closer” to the duo. Better start working on those #selfies.

Gender diversity is still a #festivalproblem

The business report gave THUMP a shout-out by referring to its study last year on gender diversity at music festivals. Of 24 festivals in 2016, only 17 percent of performers were women. The highest booking percentage went to Berlin’s CTM Festival (45 percent), and the lowest to California’s Beyond Wonderland (3.2 percent). Recently, THUMP teamed up with Smirnoff in an effort to double the number of female headliners at festivals over the next three years.

Festivals are bigger than ever

That a lot of people go to music festivals these days isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but a comparison of the number of attendees at the three biggest dance-music events (Tomorrowland, EDC LA/Las Vegas, and Ultra) in 2008 and now reveals just how much the festival industry has grown. In 2008, attendees of the big three totaled 185 thousand people. This year, it’s 925 thousand—an increase of 500 percent.

Overall, the industry is still growing, but highest-paid DJs are making less money

According to the report, Forbes reports show that earnings for the top 12 highest-paid DJs (including No. 1–3 Calvin Harris, Tiësto, and David Guetta) fell by 1 percent in 2016 from $304 million to $300 million. Despite this, the global electronic music industry’s value is up 3 percent, increasing to $7.4 billion from last year’s $7.1 billion. This value takes into account aforementioned factors such as streaming, social media, and live events, all of which showed an uptick.

Manchester’s Parklife Festival to Go On as Planned in Wake of Terror Attack

UK music festival Parklife will go on as planned following yesterday’s terror attack at Manchester Arena.

Event organizers shared the announcement today, stating, “We are continually liaising with the security and local police to ensure the safety of our customers. We are certain we will not be defeated by such cowardice.”

The weekender will take place June 10-11 at Manchester’s Heaton Park, just four miles from where a suicide bombing in the foyer of the arena left at least 22 dead and 59 injured. The attack occurred just after 10:30 PM last night as patrons were leaving an Ariana Grande concert.

“Our thoughts are with those affected as well as the emergency services working tireless to keep us safe in all that we do,” said Parklife staff in their note. They added that their social media pages are going silent for 48 hours in respect of the victims.

Parklife will be headlined by The 1975 and Frank Ocean. Other acts playing over the weekend include A Tribe Called Quest, London Grammar, Eric Prydz, Anderson .Paak, Dixon, and many others.

At Least Six UK Festivals Plan to Allow Drug Testing This Summer

This summer, at least six music festivals in the UK are aiming to make their events safer for attendees. As the BBC reports, events including Reading and Leeds Festivals are proposing a plan to allow drug testing this summer pending the support of local authorities.

Melvin Benn, the director of UK music promoter Festival Republic, estimates that the number of festivals involved in the scheme ranges anywhere from “six to ten.” At these festivals, attendees can have their drugs tested to see what exactly is in them. Testing will be conducted by The Loop, a harm reduction organization that conducts forensic testing of drugs at UK festivals and nightclubs and provides follow-up support.

“We talked about it during the summer of last year and the reality is that I took a decision that unless and until the National Police Chiefs’ Council supported the principle of it, it was difficult for us to move forward on it,” Benn told the BBC.

West Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable Andy Battle told the BBC that his team are considering supporting the measure. “We can never condone the use of illegal drugs, but we recognize that some people will continue to take them and we need to adapt our approach in the interests of public safety.”

Last year, Cambridgeshire’s Secret Garden Party became the first UK festival to offer drug testing. Approximately 200 people used the service. During the first days and a half of the festival, more than 80 substances were tested, the Guardian reported; identified substances included “very high-strength” ecstasy pills as well as an anti-malaria tablet sold as ketamine, and ammonium sulfate sold as MDMA.

Live Nation to Offer $799 All-Access Pass to Over 90 Festivals Worldwide

If you love of music festivals and just happen to have a spare $799 lying around, Live Nation has a proposition for you.

The live events titan earlier this week introduced a “festival passport,” which for $799 grants its owner general admission to over 90 music festivals around the world, including Bonnaroo, EDC Las Vegas, Creamfields, Lollapalooza Berlin, The Warehouse Project, and Falls Festival—even if the event has previously sold out. However, as it’s noted in small print on the official website, if the festival offers on-site camping, the pass holder must email Live Nation two weeks in advance to reserve campground space. The pass doesn’t include any airfare, lodging, food, parking, or transportation.

If you can afford all of that, Live Nation’s festival passport goes on sale Monday, May 22 at 10 AM PST.

Last summer, Live Nation partnered with IdentoGO, the company that conducts TSA pre-checks at airports, to issue festival entry fast-passes to pre-registered attendees with TSA pre-check.

We Spoke to the Inventor of the Weed Flower Crown About Getting High at Music Festivals

For two glorious weekends out of the year, Southern California’s Indio desert becomes the Promised Land at Coachella Music Festival. Gone are the concrete high-rises, worries of the 9-to-5 work week, and never-ending bills, replaced instead by three balmy days of live music, beautiful people, and mountain-lined horizons. At Coachella, you are the ruler of your utopian kingdom—or queendom—where anything is possible (unless you’re trying to see both Dixon and Richie Hawtin play at the same time).

But what’s a king or queen without a crown? The royal headgear has throughout history symbolized the power of its wearer, and was typically made using expensive metals and jewels. It’s since become a wildly popular accessory at music festivals like Coachella, though its materials (flowers) are far friendlier on hard-partying desert dwellers and their wallets.

Even a ubiquitous fashion statement such as the flower crown is prime for an upgrade, however, and California-based marijuana growers Lowell Herb Co. are happy to oblige. Last month, they announced they were selling a cannabis flower crown, which consists of white roses and leaves intertwined with a quarter-ounce worth of marijuana buds. The crown, which is part of a Coachella-themed promotion, comes as a bonus item with the purchase of pre-rolled joints containing their new “Coachella” marijuana blend, a combination of four strains which Lowell Herb Co. partner Sean (who requested we not use his last name) tells THUMP was created specifically to optimize the music festival experience by reducing anxiety and heightening the visual and aural senses.

Though the cannabis crowns are a first for the company, the team have numerous times in the past realized similar ideas and themed blends for special occasions, including a cannabis bouquet for Valentine’s Day. “We’re a flower-only company, which means we don’t really do edibles or concentrates or anything like that,” Sean says.

Edibles may not be Lowell Herb Co.’s thing, but their concept of wearables is certainly looking (and smelling) strong. THUMP chatted with Sean about the conception of the cannabis crown, festival-friendly weed, and ideas for their next novelty item.

THUMP: Who came up with the idea for this cannabis crown?
Sean: It was our publicist who came up with the idea. She’s a big fan of Coachella, and we’d previously done a Valentine’s Day bouquet that we came up with internally within the company, which was a big hit. We do blends all the time, like we’ll do a special blend for Election Night, or we’ll do a First Day of Spring blend, or a New Year’s Day blend, a Superbowl blend, or whatever, so people can buy pre-rolls of these blends for special occasions.

Photo courtesy of Lowell Herb Co.

So she was like, “Let’s do a Coachella blend and a crown to go with it.” So we all got together on the farm and we figured out how to make them, and we had our growers and smokers—let’s be honest, they do both—come up with a blend that they thought would be fun for listening to music at a big festival.

So this cannabis crown is basically an evolution of a now-ubiquitous Coachella accessory, the flower crown.
Yes, [our publicist] goes all the time and she’s going this year, and she was like, “This is what I want to bring for me and my friends.” And we were like, “Let’s do it.” We’re a pretty small company and we don’t plan things that far in advance, so we were just like, “Let’s get together this weekend and try to make this.” We thought maybe it would just be for her and her friends, but it caught on and other people were interested, so we made enough so other people could buy it.

What exactly is this “Coachella blend”?
We selected a group of strains that the farmers and the other creative people who work on the farm thought would work well for listening to music, but wouldn’t induce any kind of anxiety when you’re around big crowds of people.

[The farmers] talked about, and I would agree, that sometimes when you smoke and you’re in a crowd of people, you get anxiety and you want to go hide in your room. That’s not going to be a possibility at Coachella, and so they tried to take some hybrid strains that can make you a little more outgoing, or that calm your anxiety, and they blended them with strains that are a sensory-enhancer and are good for listening to a record or watching a visual performance of some kind.

They also picked strains, that they grew, that had an association with what you think of when you think of Coachella. The strains they picked were Dog-Walker, Single White Girl, Chocolate Hashberry, and Lenny OG. So those four strains make up the Coachella blend.

Photo courtesy of Lowell Herb Co.

What kind of music is best when you’re smoking this Coachella blend?
I would say something that has some depth to it, that has texture and levels. In my experience, sometimes you get something out of a record when you’re sober; and then when you’re really high you’ll hear more depth or get deeper into it and appreciate some of the other levels that are going on.

What’s the perfect high for a festival like Coachella?
I’d say euphoric, calming, and sensory-enhancing.

Who are your all-time favorite stoner musicians?
Me, personally, I’m kind of old [laughs]. I would say that I probably would go with Postal Service, who I really liked to listen to, and I guess I still do, when I get high. The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is another good one.

Do you think music sounds better when you’re high?
I think you get a different appreciation for it. Because music can just be the background noise in your life, but if you really want to get into a record, like delve into it, I think sometimes if you get high it allows you to tune out the world and really appreciate something.

How do you smoke during a festival so you can stay perfectly high all day without getting faded by the time the headliner plays?
Oh man, I don’t know if I have the answer to that. I would probably blow it [laughs]. I’d probably fall asleep before the headliner came on. I always smoke too much and then have to go home and go to sleep. Everyone has their own tolerance, right? There are some girls who work at my farm who can smoke all day and they’re just motivated, they’re working hard on the farm all day and they never slow down. Then there are people like me, like in the mid-afternoon, if I smoke a joint, I’m useless for the rest of the day. So it’s hard to say.

You have to know your own tolerance, you’ve got to know how cannabis affects you, and maybe just stick with more uplifting things. Indicas [a type of cannabis strain which is typically more physically sedating compared to more stimulating sativas] can be a real outing-killer; they’re better for when you just want to stay in for the night and chill and watch a movie, go to sleep early and get some rest.

Do you foresee a future when weed is legal at music festivals?
Absolutely, I 100-percent do. It’s ridiculous to me that alcohol is available for sale at basically every public event that we do, even events that are mainly for children, and sporting events—there’s alcohol served everywhere. But that cannabis is unavailable in all these places, and that people are forced to hit their vape pens in the bathrooms or go outside and sneak one real quick, it seems ridiculous to me. But we’re getting there.

Colorado is the first state to allow you to use cannabis in establishments, and I can’t imagine California’s going to be far behind. I’m really hoping that the day that cannabis is treated more like alcohol in all parts of American society and life comes soon.

So far, you’ve got weed bouquets and weed crowns… what’s next?
I guess we could try to do a cannabis dragon for the premiere of Game of Thrones… None of what we’ve done has really been well-planned or researched promotions. We were just like, ‘Hey, this is a cool thing we could do,’ and then a bunch of people had interest in it. 

We’re a flower-only company, which means we don’t really do edibles or concentrates or anything like that; we just sell fresh cannabis. So that kind of limits us. Maybe a Christmas wreath could be our next one.

A cannabis Christmas wreath!
We’re for sure going to do a Christmas blend. It’s Christmas Eve, it’s cold outside and you’ve got a fire going; you want to have a special Christmas blend to go with your eggnog. So maybe a Christmas wreath to go along with that.

Secret Garden Party Announces This Year's Festival Will Be Its Last

Photo courtesy of the festival

UK boutique festival Secret Garden Party will host its last edition this summer, according to an announcement posted by the promoters on the official website. The final hurrah will take place July 20-23 at Abbots Ripton in Cambridgeshire, England with performances from Crystal Fighters, Metronomy, Tom Misch, Bonzai, Peaches, and more.

“Whilst I have always known I was going to have to write this, it still feels strange,” wrote “Head Gardener” Freddie Fellowes. “We have been on a long journey but I concede to the infamous phrase that ‘All good things must come to an end.'”

Launched 15 years ago as an independent alternative to mainstream festivals juggernauts, Secret Garden Party has grown into one of the UK’s largest outdoor events with no branding or sponsors. Over the years, it has had performances from artists such as Faithless, Clean Bandit, Lily Allen, Florence & the Machine, The xx, Gorillaz, and more. Last year, it became the first UK festival to offer a drug-testing service.

“The Garden Party has defined and redefined outdoor events in the UK; we have all done this together as a collective of truly independent outsiders,” stated Fellowes. “I have never compromised our principles and I never will. SGP has always been a beacon of what you can do within those terms… What better way to honor the love that has been given to this project and wholly demonstrate this principle, than going out with a bang.”

However, as the website states, though this may be the end of Secret Garden Party, a new event replace it in the future.

To accompany the announcement, they have shared a special mix. Listen to it below.

Users' Personal Details At Risk In Coachella Website Hack

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Coachella organizer Goldenvoice yesterday confirmed that the festival’s website had been hacked, putting festival-goers personal information at risk. The hack has since been reported to authorities and is currently under investigation, reports Billboard.

Customers’ full names, email addresses, birth dates, and phone numbers are among the data compromised by the hack. Not everyone who bought a ticket to the annual festival in Indio, California should be worried, though, because accounts on Coachella’s website are totally separate from ticket purchasing accounts. accounts are used to customize lineups, activate wristbands, and post on the website’s forum.

Goldenvoice sent a message to account holders about the hack yesterday. “Be aware that you may be targeted by phishing emails sent from people impersonating Coachella personnel,” they said. “Please remember that Coachella will never solicit personal information or account information from you via email. Please exercise caution if you receive any emails or phone calls that ask for such information, or direct you to web sites where you are asked for personal or financial information.” They also said that “no financial information was accessed.”

This news follows a recent report on Motherboard that someone claims to be selling over 950,000 Coachella user accounts on the dark web.

The head of Coachella’s parent company, conservative Christian billionaire Philip Anschutz, was recently linked to right-wing groups that support anti-LGBT measures and deny climate change. The xx, Radiohead, and Justice are on the lineup for this year’s edition of the festival.

If you’re worried that your details are at risk because of this data breach, learn more about the invaluable resource in the hacking age, ‘Have I Been Pwned?’

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Skrillex, James Blake, And Solange Lead FORM Arcosanti’s 2017 Lineup

Skrillex at FORM Arcosanti 2016. Photo by Michael James Murray

FORM Arcosanti, the music and arts festival curated by experimental pop band Hundred Waters (this year alongside Moses Sumney), has announced its 2017 lineup.

Skrillex, James Blake, Solange, Father John Misty, and Future Islands lead the bill, with Blake scheduled to perform a “solo piano” set. Rounding out the diverse lineup are artists including Deafheaven, Kelela, Tycho, Omar Souleyman, Shamir, Huerco S, Thundercat, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and more. View the full lineup below.

FORM Arcosanti returns for its fourth year from May 12-14 to the experimental city of Arcosanti, located in the Arizona desert. The three-night event, capped to a cozy 1,500 people, takes place in an “urban laboratory” built in the 1970s by Frank Lloyd Wright protg Paolo Soleri and over 7,000 students and volunteers. In addition to the music programming, FORM offers workshops, art installations, and outdoor activities.

Read our review from last year’s festival, and also check out highlights from a back-to-back set between Skrillex and Four Tet.

BPM Festival Shares New Statement About Fatal Shooting

Photo by Aleks Ol

Playa Del Carmen music festival BPM yesterday shared a new statement about the shooting that occurred at its closing party on Monday, January 16.

The statement said that the festival’s management’s “continued thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those victimized by the shooting,” and that 14 of the 15 festival attendees who were hospitalized because of the shooting have now been released.

BPM also responded to media coverage of the shooting, which has reported on authorities’ statements regarding the possible involvement of drug trafficking, cartels, extortion, and a possible execution. The festival said that “much of what is being reported is based on speculation and misinformation from unidentified sources.”

Local law enforcement has not yet determined the cause of the shooting, but were pursuing three different lines of investigation pertaining to extortion, drug dealing, or a targeted execution.

BPM also drew attention to a GoFundMe page created for Kirk Knight’s family, who was head of security at the festival one of the victims of the shooting.

BPM shared its first official statement the same day as the shooting.

The shooting left five people dead, including three guests and two staff members from five different countries including the US. Substantial progress in the investigation has not been reported in recent days.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Another City In Argentina Bans Electronic Music Events

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The beachside city of Mar Del Plata in Argentina yesterday instated an official ban on electronic music events. They are the second city in the country to pursue a total ban on such events, following Buenos Aires, which stopped offering permits for festivals in April of last year.

Mar Del Plata mayor Carlos Arroyo announced the prohibition in response to concerns regarding drug use at these kinds of events, reports Resident Advisor. His decision follows the recent deaths of two people who attended a New Year’s party at a nightclub in the Argentinian city of Arroyo Seco. In the aftermath of that event, officials have determined that it is “practically confirmed” that the death of one of the two people was drug-related, reports The Bubble.

Arroyo’s decision has generated pushback from local politicians, reports news source El Marplatense. Councilman Santiago Bonifatti said that the definition of an electronic music party or event had to be defined more clearly, and that lawmakers were capable of choosing more “intelligent” tools than the proposed ban.

Buenos Aires’ ban on electronic music events followed the deaths of five patrons of the city’s Time Warp festival, which took place from April 1517.

Kraftwerk was able to perform in Buenos Aires in November despite the ban there, because of an appeal in local courts.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Toronto Electronic Music Events Could Be Subjected To Stricter Safety Measures

Photo of Toronto courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

A Toronto city council member is pushing to require electronic music festivals to have paramedics on-site, to be paid for by promoters. Councillor Paula Fletcher of Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth is behind the initiative, and next week will ask the city’s Community Development and Recreation Committee to impose the measure, reports Metro Toronto.

Fletcher told the publication that she hopes the requirement will prevent drug-related deaths, citing as an example the recent suspected drug-related death of a 19-year old woman at Toronto’s Rebel nightclub. “It’s such a tragic event,” she said. “One death is too many.”

Although she said that it was not “reasonable” to completely shut down electronic music festivals, she said “there should be very strong protocols in dealing with any emergency situations.” Metro Toronto did not mention any initiatives besides Fletcher’s motion for required emergency paramedics on-site at events, and THUMP has reached out to Fletcher with a request for comment.

In a statement provided to THUMP at the time of the incident in December, Rebel said they subject every patron of the venue to the full search, and employ an EMS company on-site for every concert and club night they do.

At that time, Fletcher called for a review of the incident at Rebel, and argued that there needed to be stricter oversight in the future.

“When you have a big star playing and you know it’s a younger crowd that likes a certain type of drug, there needs to be a very strong medical plan for what can and mostly likely will be, overdoses,” she said.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Most VR Is Silly, But It Could Transform How Our Bodies Interact With Music

Sam Rolfes is a Chicago and New York-based digital artist who uses VR tools in his work, including videos he’s made for Amnesia Scanner, Danny L Harle/Caroline Polachek, and Rihanna’s VMA performance (yes, really). Here, he wades through the Silicon Valley bullshit to asses the truly “disruptive” ways VR could change how we experience musicif the technology can overcome the obstacles currently clogging its clumsy ascent.Michelle Lhooq

Illustrations by the author

2016 wasn’t quite TheYearofVirtualReality despite what the starry-eyed press mused. It was, perhaps, more the year of taking photos of bewildered people wearing headsets and making asses out of themselves. VR promos nearly vibrate off the screen with the sheer force of their earnest aspiration, leveraging your desperation for a more meaningful digital experience with enough buzzwords to get any tech blog editor rock hard in seconds. Ads tend to show excited newcomers donning headsets and generally losing their shit while their friends stare at them bemusedly. This actually demonstrates one of the inherent weaknesses of the VR format right now: we haven’t quite figured out how to make it a social experience. Beyond providing fodder for Snapchat, what form is VR really going to take as it wriggles further into our daily lives?

VR has the potential to be a game-changing tool for expression and communication. But it is also part of a self-inflating hype cycle of emergent tech tools that require enough people to buy into the developers’ (and investors’) vision of the future. It is therefore the solemn duty of digital artists like myself to wade through the bullshit, and determine VR’s actual capacity to be a revolutionary creative mediumalong with the hurdles in the way of implementing those lofty ideas.

In its search for a better future, dance music likes to flirt with the idea of technology as a transcendent force for leaving the fetters of the corporeal world behind, if only briefly. It only makes sense that a format like VR, based around many of the same escapist ideals, would be embraced by this industry. That said, there aren’t very many examples out there of VR being used in electronic music contexts.

The club space is a venue of intense identity performance, and VR could allow more agency for embodying different liquid personas.

Several excellent, forward-thinking electronic music fests with heavy emphasis on new media, like VIA Fest in Pittsburgh, Day for Night in Houston, and Sub Chroma in Chicago have recently started offering VR experiences, but often relegate the headsets to different rooms from the main music acts, treating the technology like the sideshow freak it currently is. (Funnily enough, this isn’t without precedent, as VR games were a common side attraction at early 90s raves, particularly in San Francisco.) But at least these festivals involve actual VRrather than mislabeling a 360 video app under a pile of marketing copy like some others do.

Out of the handful of VR-equipped electronic music games that do exist, many of the most compelling examples place you inside abstracted instrument spaces, such as my favorite, Playthings. There’s also Soundstage VR, and rhythm games like Rez Infinite (despite the glaring absence of its most important controller, the Trance Vibrator).

TheWaveVR is an admirable, EDM-soaked attempt that’s like an (even more) awkward Silent Disco. According to the company’s co-founder, it is like “a virtual venue… where someone can DJ interact with each other.” The game has attracted plenty of attention, but it has limitations: If more than one person tried to play in the same room, this could end up yielding more of a mosh pit than the developers intended, since interaction between dancerssuch as knowing everyone’s location so you aren’t blindly knocking headsis technically challenging to pull off on a large scale with current tracking schemes. Similarly, this VR experience by the Embassy of Dutch Creativityuses the same Gear VR headset as TheWaveVR, but lacks the processing power for complex imagery.

But that’s all fine! Everything’s fine! While VR is still largely in its “cool tech demo fodder” stage, there are signs that the technology is on the way to becoming more integrated in the real world. HTC just debuted a wireless headset for their Vive system at CES this year, which would solve the problem of multiple players in the same space colliding, assuming it works in as fluctuating a situation as the dancefloor.

Often the visual language in dance music, for both promotional media and concert visuals, falls into two categories: utilitarian minimalism (white labels, bold record sleeves with stylized lettering), or kaleidoscopic “psychedelia” (maximalist shapes, objects, visualizing scenes that exist for titillation or eye candy valueAKA “Winampwave”). VR as it stands now is a continuation of this latter camp of body-driven psychedelia, via its (often technologically mandated) overreliance on making cool shit spin around and change colors for their own sake. (There’s a history of VR being explored as a more literal form of psychedelia and visually-borne transcendence, even if the efficacy of that link is rather tenuous in practice.)

Regardless of the aesthetic choices involved, VR in dance music often has the same goal: providing a sensory substructure by allowing viewers to catch onto some semi-coherent object in their minds as the swirl of musical abstraction flows around them. But it has one key hang up: a tacit denial of the audience-as-performer’s body, or at least ignoring everything save for their head and hands. VR ejects the club space as the arena for the narrative to play out and injects its own interpretation. It may one day allow for even more meaningful dialogue and experience in this setting, but it’s got a lot of infrastructural and tech barriers before it gets there.

There’s a connection between VR and gloving, hooping, all that shitin the way that myriad permutations of expression have developed from a few simple pieces of technology.

That said, VR is perhaps more within the jurisdiction of real-time experience than album art; it has more in common with club uplighting, strobes, and projections due to its IRL relationship to the participant and the music. There are increasingly more complex elaborations of AV within clubs, such as 3D projection mapping and video, with increasing creative input from DJs and producers. All of this means there’s rich ground for progressing the visual conversation in dance music; the trick is getting VR formatted into a state where it can be used with similar ease.

To borrow some buzzwords from venture capitalists, the truly disruptive paradigm shift that VR offers to dance music is an expressive interaction language based on the body’s orientation and performance. This self-elevation of audience members to be performers and contributors to the overall experience, along with the direct correlation between the movements of the viewer/listener and the resulting visual experience, is a vital upending of roles that speaks to the potential for transformational user-guided experience in VR.

In a way, there’s a connection between VR and the burner and other rave communitiesgloving, hooping, all that shitin the way that myriad permutations of expression have developed from a few simple pieces of technology, as well as refigured and developed over the years because of its ease of use and immediate visual payoff. This link serves as the backbone for the true potential of the medium: recasting the audience member or viewer as the director of their reality (and potentially the reality of others)and the diverse stories that can result.

The truly disruptive paradigm shift that VR offers to dance music is an expressive interaction language based on the body’s orientation and performance.

Notice how I keep saying “potentially”? The music venue or club space is also a venue of intense identity performance, and VR could allow more agency for embodying different liquid personas and roles. However, this would require a multiplayer infrastructure that, in its current stage, is still in its awkward infantile stages. Before you upend the concept of concrete identity, you have to be able to depict or articulate identity with more nuance, and do so without people choking to death on their own headset cables before reaching their life-altering epiphany.

Virtual reality hasn’t been able to make that leap into the rarefied space of the club in a very meaningful way yet, but that won’t stop me in continuing in a long tradition of masturbatory futurist fever dreams guessing about what future could be. I now present for your consideration, Several Exciting Futures for VR in Dance Music. Invest now!

Several Exciting Futures For VR in Dance Music

1. BYOVR to the venue. Outbreaks of face scabies erupt in the underground dance community as VR headsets are shared around from person to person.

2. The concept of a concrete identity is further eroded as shifting perceptions of self awareness develop, but you’re still stuck wandering around servers trying to find where the party at, and infinite 360-bioresponsive-3d-printed- drone-controlled-mind-sync’d-swarm-mind experiences are available at your fingertips but paying for your virtual avatar to look good in ’em costs an arm and a leg.

3. Club kids quickly develop a stereotype for the thick necks required to hold up the heavy visual screens strapped to their heads for several hours at a time. Venue floors are slicked with vomit from motion sickness, and rhythmic gymnastics gains new relevance in this bright future, as dance moves adapt to accommodate the miles of cabling snaking their way throughout the dancefloor.

4. Clubs and gathering spots are vacated in favor of staying at home and logging into multiplayer experiences, enjoyed while lying in piles of furniture-debris created from constantly crashing into them while getting hype in VR.

5. Mosh pits become the norm because there’s only 4 headsets available for the whole party, and entrepreneurs weave through dancefloors extolling the power of changing your identity through VR like religious missionaries proclaiming the rapturous future ahead.

6. The comedown is way rougher when your identity’s been shred and put back together polygon by polygon:

Follow Sam Rolfes on Twitter