Pete Tong: "Don’t sell out dance music to big business"

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Enduring DJ and BBC Radio 1 host Pete Tong has weighed in on America’s ‘EDM’ boom in a column for Music Week, warning that big money could corrupt the scene. The fervour around the dance culture (and the ever-mounting pay-packets) is reminiscent of the ‘90s superstar DJ boom in the UK, a time Tong clearly remembers well. His column, which you can read in full online, was written in the wake of a “hugely successful ten days in Miami”, where the DJ witnessed the spectacular scale of Ultra Music Festival and the Winter Music Conference.

“How times have changed,” he writes. “This summer Avicii, Afrojack and Kaskade are all doing 30-plus date arena tours, as Las Vegas hotels boast 50 exclusive DJ residencies and 300,000 people are predicted to attend the Electric Daisy Carnival in June. Whilst David Guetta’s success story follows reasonably conventional industry rules it’s incredible to think that Swedish House Mafia – who haven’t yet made an artist album – look set to fill the Milton Keynes Bowl in July.”

The risk of all this excitement, Tong writes, is the interest from corporates looking to cash in (by now you might’ve got a sly chuckle out of our article photo). “Success inevitably attracts attention – and now numerous extremely wealthy individuals, big business and VC funds are eager to buy into the EDM action. If allowed to run riot with their corporate machinery, these same people will destroy the scene. Wikipedia the word ‘stampede’ and I think you’ll get the picture. Now is the time for those involved to sharpen up and play their very best game; to develop the scene steadily, keeping it true to its roots.”

Later, he adds: “The money at stake now dwarfs what was on the table back then, but the history should come as a warning shot to all about selling the genre short and being seduced by cheque book-waving billionaires with no care or vision for the long-term game.”

Tong is set to revisit the topic at the Ibiza International Music Summit in late May, where he’s appearing as a presenter.