“The Pinnacle in America”: 3 Electronic Artists Share Their Approach to DJing in the Coachella Mecca

As we write this article, the last remaining whispers of Coachella 2024 are fading away, crashing into the high peaks of the imposing mountains that surround the desert valley from which they originate. Like every year, those murmurs span the entirety of the multi-genre festival, from Kid Cudi’s fall (which resulted in a broken calcaneus) to the electrifying reunion of Orange County’s very own No Doubt.

However, as we scroll through ‘chella’s trendiest online moments, one thing stands out: dance music dominance.

Whether at the festival itself or one of the many afterparties scattered across the desert, this year’s festival weekend was rife with extraordinary rave moments. One of the most notable was the marvelous yet inconspicuous Framework in the Desert, a highlight of Coachella’s first weekend.

Led by renowned LA promoter Framework and situated inside an airport hangar miles from the festival’s grounds, the innovative hotspot hosted Dom Dolla, Charlotte de Witte, Patrick Mason and a surprise b2b set from John Summit and Cloonee.

The “Titan’s End Art Car” at Framework in the Desert.

Daniela Becerra

Back inside the Coachella grounds, dance music’s presence on social media was undeniable.

Setting aside Grimes-gate, one has to look no further than the impressive overhaul of the Empire Polo Club this year. The fan-favorite Do LaB was redesigned, the fabled Sahara was moved and expanded and, not to be outdone, the brand-new Quasar stage emerged from the ground like a desert mirage.

Coachella’s Quasar stage.

Julian Bajsel

In addition to the Yuma tent, this means Coachella’s vast Indio real estate comprises four spaces dedicated solely to electronic dance music. In other words, one-half of the entirety of the festival’s footprint.

The landscape of this legendary locale is extending its arms, embracing the diverse soundscapes of dance music more than ever. For DJs and producers, the adoption of this once-niche genre is increasing their chances to perform at the storied Coachella.

Out of the wide-ranging roster of talented electronic artists that graced each of those four stages, we caught up with three who embodied the spirit of the festival’s evolving scenery. From newcomers to seasoned pros, this trio of tastemakers are here to share their Coachella stories.

REBŪKE

Right off the heels of his impressive remix of deadmau5’s iconic “Not Exactly”, Rebūke launched himself headfirst into the Yuma tent for his first-ever Coachella performance.

Calling it a “celebration of five years of Rebūke,” the Irish DJ and producer has spent years preparing for this moment. Speaking about the monumental occasion, he said “this particular show is a milestone of every artist, be it American or international.”

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After gaining notoriety with hits like “Along Came Polly” and his massive collaboration with Anyma, “Syren,” the melodic techno star has more than earned his slot inside the Yuma.

Having never attended the event, Rebūke has relied on videos and photos of past festival moments to guide him on what to expect from this California staple.

“For me, Coachella is the American version of Glastonbury; that’s what every European artist wants to do. This is such an important festival, not just for the fans but for the music industry and music culture,” Rebūke told us. “From Daft Punk doing the pyramid back in the day and Justice doing their thing now, this is all massive stuff and I’m excited to be involved in it.”

Azzecca

Another surging DJ making her first appearance inside the Empire Polo Club was Chicago’s very own Azzecca. Having attended the illustrious festival multiple times as a fan, she compares her Do LaB debut to being on cloud nine.

“Sometimes when you DJ it feels like a little bit of a push and pull,” Azzecca said. “But sometimes you’re locked in with the crowd, it’s fun for everyone involved and you can just feel it. Today, both of my sets genuinely felt like we were locked in and we partied together and it was really fun.”

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As much fun as Azzecca’s inaugural performance was, the gravity of the moment is not lost on her.

“I never would have imagined I would be playing at Coachella right now, or playing to the crowds I’m playing to right now,” she adds. “Everything for me these days feels like a peak.”

Azzecca’s consistency in her projects has landed her multiple slots on upcoming high-profile events including EDC Las Vegas, Elements, and ARC Music Festivals. However, she still speaks highly about the Indio venue.

“If you love music, not just dance music, but all different types of music, this is the pinnacle in America. Coachella is the best festival and if you could go you should go.”

Will Clarke

For Will Clarke, who’s taken to the decks at Coachella in previous years, his 2024 Yuma takeover was approached with less nerves and a bit more preparation. Adding to that ease and prep work was his familiarity with the performance space.

“The Yuma is territory that we’re used to,” Clarke said. “It’s a dark room with a lot of people in it and I’m fortunate enough to play a lot of those rooms. I think if I was playing Sahara or one of the other big stages it would be a different situation.”

The task at hand would be overwhelming to some, but the U.K. house music vet carried on with gravitas.

“What’s the worst that could happen? You could push the wrong button, the music could turn off and then you literally push another button and then it goes on again,” he adds. “I’m not out here doing a Grimes, like I know how to DJ.”

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Although the grandeur of Coachella is not lost on Clarke, the Bristol native’s disassociation with the event comes primarily from his British upbringing.

“Growing up in the U.K., you don’t hear much about Coachella. And so, I came here with everyone hyping it up. “It’s an unbelievable festival but it has not been part of my childhood. It’s not something I’ve always looked up to.”

So what’s Clarke’s Coachella equivalent? Glastonbury.

“If I was playing Glastonbury, I’d be shitting my pants right now.”

Aside from controlling the dancefloor with his latest single, Clarke has also been leading the way in long-form conversations with his peers. His podcast, which began in April 2020, has allowed him to candidly speak with venerated artists the likes of Kaskade, Moby and A-Trak.

“The podcast comes from a place of speaking to creatives, obviously mostly electronic artists and some in-betweens,” he explains. “I think it’s important to be able to have normal conversations in life, not just artist on artist, but in general.”

Emphasizing the need for more human connection, Clarke elaborates on his yearning to have dialogue in spaces outside of his normal work environment.

“This may sound weird, but I’m not a huge fan of going to a nightclub. I’d rather go for dinner and have a good conversation with people. For me, the conversation stops at the nightclub or the bar.”

While a nightclub may not be an ideal place for a heart-to-heart, it’s a great place to be introduced to new music. For Clarke, his latest track is due out next week and will feature House Gospel Choir.

Time to take us to church.

FOLLOW REBŪKE:

Instagram: instagram.com/rebukemusic
X: x.com/rebukemusic
Spotify: tinyurl.com/2p976k79

FOLLOW AZZECCA:

Instagram: instagram.com/azzecca
X: x.com/azzecca
Spotify: sptfy.com/Q1pg

FOLLOW WILL CLARKE:

Instagram: instagram.com/djwillclarke
X: x.com/djwillclarke
Spotify: tinyurl.com/56fcbh5x

IMS Business Report Values Dance Music Industry at Remarkable $11.8 Billion: Key Insights

The electronic dance music industry has achieved a remarkable $11.8 billion valuation, according to the 2024 IMS Business Report.

Reinforcing its prestige as a cultural and economic force, the global dance music business “is now firmly in its post-pandemic growth phase” after achieving 17% revenue growth in 2023, per the report.

The upsurge can be attributed to EDM’s universal appeal, technological integration and unparalleled ability to captivate audiences. As the genre’s popularity snowballs at major events like Coachella, festivals and clubs continue to dominate revenues, amassing nearly half of the industry total. The next biggest segment was music hardware and software, which comprised roughly 25% of total revenues.

The rise in the number of EDM fans far surpassed those of hip-hop, rock and Latin music in 2023, reflecting a substantial boon for its “share of global culture.” Electronic music has the smallest fanbase of those four major genres but grew fastest across all key DSPs by a wide margin, passing rock on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. It was dwarfed by hip-hop, which still reigned supreme in streaming totals.

The 2024 Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

Kelly Knisel/EDM.com

Elsewhere are key data points revealing the swelling influence of independent labels, which increased their market share for the fourth consecutive quarter at a clip of 31%. The majors still dominate, according to the report, but lost share to “the newer generation of future-focused labels.”

When it comes to streaming, the four markets with the most monthly electronic music listeners on Spotify are Germany, the US, Australia and the UK, respectively. But the report indicated strong market penetration from South Africa, which has nearly twice as many listeners as its total population. That figure reflects the degree to which the country “has built its own electronic scenes and culture.”

South African dance music icon Black Coffee won the Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album in 2022 and Defected Records launched One People, an offshoot aiming to “orchestrate a sonic celebration of Afrocentric music from a diverse and international roster of artists,” according to the renowned label. Meanwhile, Zimbabwean producer Nitefreak was recently named to the EDM.com Class of 2024.

That global appeal is the upshot of a resolute post-pandemic rebound the likes of which David Guetta predicted in late-2021, when he said “the next few years will be the best years for dance music in history.” Today’s $11.8 billion valuation towers over the dance music industry’s $6.9 billion reckoning a decade ago in 2014, when the genre experienced a cultural stateside explosion.

“2022 was an unusual year, in that it reflected the post-pandemic bounce back effect for live,” MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan said. “There was a risk that 2023 would struggle to live up to those inflated expectations, but instead the electronic music industry grew strongly once again, with impressive growth across virtually all of its constituent parts. What is more, electronic music culture grew its fan bases faster than other leading genres, in part due to the rapid rise of African music and fans, illustrating the growing cultural footprint of electronic music culture and its vibrant global scenes.”

You can download the full 2024 IMS Business report here.

Future-Proofing Festivals: CAA Vet Alex Becket on Why EDM is the Sound of Success for Coachella and More

Imagine it’s 2013. Skrillex’s brostep is decimating crowds, Avicii is triggering spiritual dancefloor awakenings, a 17-year-old Martin Garrix drops “Animals” and the retina-searing lasers of Ultra are changing eyeballs forever.

While that EDM serotonin rush still remains, the industry looks different over a decade later, when its consumers often prioritize the intimate, walk-on-air euphoria of a dark warehouse rave over the regurgitated frills of a major festival. From a cultural standpoint, the chasm between those two formats keeps growing—but for its artists, the road between the two is paved with uncertainty and hardship.

So where exactly do DJs fit into this industry in flux? And what challenges do they face?

Without the peace of mind that comes with blitzkrieg marketing offensives and veteran negotiators like CAA’s Alex Becket, most must navigate choppy waters solo as inflationary pressures hike the rising costs of touring to unsustainable levels. For those artists, it’s a lonely masterclass in DIY hustle.

Becket is the powerhouse agent behind—among many others—RÜFÜS DU SOL, Bedouin, Monolink and G Jones, the lattermost of whom was recently named by EDM.com as one of the world’s best electronic music producers. He has been with CAA for nearly two decades and became the firm’s first electronic music agent in 2012 before nabbing a spot in Billboard’s venerable “Dance Power Players” list in 2019.

It’s no secret that leading agencies like CAA wield industry tentacles to curate prime festival real estate as a means to nurture the eggs of their mainstream golden geese. In other words, the stages of major festivals are the ultimate slingshots for new albums. Meanwhile, their electronic artists—as well as those repped by independent bookers across the nation—are left tasting the dust of their hip-hop and pop contemporaries.

But if there’s any silver lining, blue-chip agencies and festivals today are acutely focused on unearthing and booking EDM talent, according to Becket, who tells us he expects to see more dance acts on big stages in the near future.

Alex Becket, a music agent at CAA, one of the world’s most influential entertainment and sports talent agencies. 

c/o Creative Artists Agency

Once relegated to the fringes of the festival circuit, dance music producers are now commanding top billing and drawing massive audiences to marquee mainstream events like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, all of whom tapped ODESZA to headline last year.

Meanwhile, Coachella’s organizers in 2023 approached the trio of Skrillex, Fred again.. and Four Tet to close out the world’s quintessential music festival in lieu of a spurned Frank Ocean. Prior to their last-minute headlining set, Coachella counted only Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia—themselves replacements after stepping in for Kanye West in 2022—as their only other DJ headliners in the last decade.

Now, after a year teeming with unforgettable EDM moments, Coachella is introducing a brand-new stage to serve as the festival’s de facto epicenter of rave music. The ambitious stage, Quasar, will feature three-hour DJ sets by RÜFÜS DU SOL and a cancer-free Michael Bibi, among other deeply influential dance music artists.

Ahead of Coachella’s return this weekend, we caught up with Becket to discuss Quasar as well as the evolving relationship between major festivals and the electronic dance music community.

EDM.com: After Coachella made the decision to blend Sahara’s lineups with more mainstream artists, it seems Quasar is the festival’s new epicenter of electronic dance music. Why now?

Alex Becket: The way “underground” house and techno music has become so popular in recent years, and arguably is now the mainstream dance music of the day, the traditional home at the festival for that sound, the Yuma Tent, has become too small to service all the demand. It’s a great sign for the health of our industry that the festival needs a stage like Quasar for this growing audience.

EDM.com: Take us behind the scenes of your discussions with your artists about Quasar. What about the new stage was so appealing to them?

Alex Becket: Coachella has been such a pioneer for dance music over the years and they’ve done it again with Quasar. The opportunity to play an extended three-hour set is unheard of amongst multi-genre contemporary festivals and represents the core culture around DJs and raves. It’s exciting for these artists to have the freedom to take fans on a journey without the constraints of 60–75-minute sets that are typical at the festival.

EDM.com: We’ve seen a surge in EDM bookings at festivals like Coachella. Can you elaborate on the strategic advantages—beyond pure popularity—that booking EDM artists brings to major festivals?

Alex Becket: Coachella has been booking electronic artists for decades but it’s true this year feels particularly dance-heavy. For whatever reason, I think other genres are down right now and electronic is filling up a lot of that void on festival lineups. Dance music appeals to a broader audience than a lot of other genres, and that drives mass appeal.

EDM.com: What role, if any, has technological advancements in live production and stage setups played in making EDM acts more appealing for festival organizers? And to what extent does this focus on live spectacle factor into a festival’s decision-making when executing lineups?

Alex Becket: Festivals want big shows and big moments so it factors in a lot for them. Big production was an essential part of the “EDM” boom in the early 2010s and has always been a big part of the EDM experience. “Underground” shows with no production emerged in response to that, and now you’re seeing the pendulum swing back the other way in many cases with underground artists building big shows. In this way we’re seeing big productions with better music and it’s a winning combo.

EDM.com: Are there any particular up-and-coming artists or sub-genres that you anticipate will gain even more traction in the festival circuit in the near future?

Alex Becket: Hard techno is definitely having a moment with younger generations, and we’re having a ton of success at CAA in the minimal tech and minimal deep tech space. Our new colleague Julian Teixeira has a lot of the best up-and-coming artists in this world like Chris Stussy, Dennis Cruz and Ben Sterling.

Part of Alex Becket’s roster at CAA, RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Jon George and James Hunt will DJ at the debut of Coachella’s new Quasar stage in 2024.

Michael Drummond

EDM.com: What challenges or obstacles do EDM artists face when it comes to securing prominent slots at major festivals dominated by more traditional rock, hip-hop and pop acts?

Alex Becket: DJs and electronic artists have been sharing the top lines at festivals with rock, hip-hop and pop acts for years. In the past, relatively few dance artists headlined hard tickets and their value was closely tied to VIP sales (still does) which is harder to quantify and not public information. That’s a different metric that made direct comparisons difficult and worked against dance artists for prominent slots or billing, but many dance artists live in the hard ticket world now and it’s not much of a thing.

EDM.com: How do you see the festival landscape evolving in the next five to 10 years when it comes to the representation of EDM and other electronic music genres on major lineups?

Alex Becket: The sky’s the limit! One of dance music’s greatest strengths is diversity, both of the audience and the music. I expect to see more dance acts on big and small stages alike, and different music thrives in different settings.

I love the variety of experiences Coachella offers in this way. You can go see an insane visual spectacular like Anyma at the Sahara Tent, then pop over to the Do LaB for the best dance party at the festival, then head to an immersive experience with RÜFÜS DU SOL (DJ SET) at Quasar, then end your night with Adriatique at the Yuma for a true nightclub experience in the middle of a festival. The options are incredible!

Over 200 Leading Artists Rally Against AI Tech In Call for Responsible Music Innovation

Amid the era of AI, when technology’s rapid evolution often blurs the lines between enhancement and infringement, over 200 artists have banded together in an unprecedented plea for respect and responsibility.

The Artist Rights Alliance has published a scathing open letter, titled “Stop Devaluing Music,” to issue a timely rebuke of AI developers in the music industry. In a clarion call for action, the petition urges tech companies to pledge against releasing generative music tools and technologies that could diminish the human artistry of songwriters and producers.

“Make no mistake, we believe that, when used responsibly, AI has enormous potential to advance human creativity,” the letter asserts.

This acknowledgment of artificial intelligence’s potential underscores the artists’ stance not as anti-innovation, but pro-accountability. Their grievance lies not with the technology itself but with the manner in which it’s currently being deployed by big tech platforms and developers.

The heart of the issue, per the petition, is the irresponsible use of AI that compromises artists’ ability to protect their privacy and intellectual property. It’s a predicament that stems from some of the world’s largest companies taking liberties with AI model “training” based on existing music—without regard for the original creators. This practice not only undermines the intrinsic value of music, but also poses a threat to the livelihood of those who create it.

“Unfortunately, some platforms and developers are employing AI to sabotage creativity and undermine artists, songwriters, musicians and rightsholders,” the letter continues. “When used irresponsibly, AI poses enormous threats to our ability to protect our privacy, our identities, our music and our livelihoods.”

Among the high-profile producers throwing their weight behind the initiative are industry luminaries like Billie Eilish, Metro Boomin, FINNEAS, Hit-Boy and Chase & Status. Their participation, along with superstars the likes of Sam Smith, Kim Petras, J Balvin, Pearl Jam and more, amplifies the petition’s message and highlights the widespread concern among artists of all walks about the future of music creation in the face of advancing AI.

Read the full open letter here.