Australian invasion: How to make it in America

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“It’s smart to relocate to the USA if you produce R&B, pop and rock,” the New York born Sean Tyas told inthemix in 2007. “But if you’re a dance artist, being in Europe is probably better, only because you are close to the market that accepts it more readily.” Five years later, it’s hard to imagine anyone shrugging off the opportunities available to producers in the dance music obsessed States. So it’s unsurprising, then, that packing up and moving to the America is exactly what a lot of our local talent is doing.

In fact, so many of Australia’s biggest dance music names have made the move – producers, DJs and bands like Tommy Trash, Bass Kleph, Miami Horror and Anna Lunoe, to name but a few – that the US press has affectionately dubbed the influx the “Australian invasion”. It's an intriguing trend, and one that begs the question: just why is so much of our local talent leaving for the States? And moreover, what are the dangers in boarding that bandwagon?

First up, it comes back to what Sean Tyas said that half decade ago. Why has Europe – even with the historically major dance music hotbeds of Berlin and Ibiza – been overtaken by the US as the destination of choice for our up-and-comers? Well, as anyone who saw Skrillex clean up at the Grammys or noticed the surge of dance-focussed festivals in the US and the goldrush to buy them up could tell you, the US is currently in the throes of one giant dance music boom. After years of hip-hop and R&B holding the taste-making cards in the States, dance music has finally started to take over: working its way onto radio play, the festival mainstage and the forefront of with-it musical tastes. Of course, it’s nothing new to us (or the multitude of US producers who’ve been slaving away in the relative ‘underground’ for the past 20 years), but for the first time, dance music is now big business in mainstream USA.

But the USA's embrace of all things “EDM" has already been discussed to death. What’s interesting here, rather, is the opportunity the boom is bringing artists who’ve long had a handle on the whole dance music thing to strike while the proverbial iron’s hot. “Five years ago, there weren’t billboards lining the streets of Hollywood with DJ’s mugs plastered all over them and there weren’t nearly as many open doors with promoters, writers, A&Rs and media,” Andrew Jackson, director of Milton Archer – the management company behind acts like The Aston Shuffle, Hook N Sling and Cosmonaut – told inthemix. “I’m under no illusion that couldn’t all change in a heartbeat, but as of this very moment, it’s a great time.”

Certainly, from a management point of view there’s plenty of reasons to give your acts the nudge towards the US. “Put simply, the biggest music market in the world is currently obsessed with electronic music, so to me that seems a once in a lifetime opportunity for competent and relevant artists to put time into exploring where they might fit here,” Jackson continued. “Age-old cultural barriers have fallen pretty hard and dance is having a significant influence in both the public and industry all the way up to top 40 radio. By no means is it a ‘better’ scene than Australia, and nor is it guaranteed to be more lucrative for those who flock here. Like any scene, it’s a spectrum ranging from the credible to the abhorrent. But as with most things in the US, it’s all just bigger ”.