No longer counterculture, DJs are now filling stadiums with fans of electronic music.
Dance club DJs have long led the way in introducing new sounds in electronic music with pulsating rhythms, white noise, and visual effects such as strobe lighting. Some DJs are so successful in their art that they develop followings as they move from club to club. But lately, DJs have helped to catapult manipulated dance music into the mainstream – filling stadiums instead of the hidden warehouses of "rave" parties of the 1990s. No longer a countercultural phenomenon, electronic dance music (EDM) has become big business. Very big business.
Consider for example Swedish House Mafia – a trio of DJs armed only with turntables and giant speakers. In 2012, as the third-highest-paid DJ act they raked in $14 million and became the first electronic music group to play New York's Madison Square Garden. During the opening ceremonies for London's 2012 Olympic Games, it was the music of Lincoln Barrett, a British DJ by the name High Contrast, that spurred the athletes' parade.
Spinning records and manipulating sounds to come up with original music has appeal among musicians, too. Filip Nikolic, who has toured in DJ duo Guns 'n' Bombs in addition to playing with the live band Poolside, attributes EDM's recent boon to economic factors, citing the relatively low overhead of a DJ performance. With one or two DJs and minimal equipment, the lion's share of the profit is passed on to the performers.