In a year where SXSW's musical main attractions are Bruce Springsteen and Jack White, it's ironic that a panel is ready to (literally) dance on rock's grave. Still, it's undeniable that with the rise of DJs/producers Skrillex and deadmau5, dance music may get its biggest wave of popularity since disco's heyday.
Legendary Sire Records head Seymour Stein challenged the provocative title of the panel, insisting "dance music IS rock and roll." Simon White (from management company Chris and Simon) saw the evolution of dance music as cyclical- "it's changed the culture (in the U.K.) and it's gonna happen here. And eventually it's gonna be passé."
Pasquale Rotella, founder of concert producer Insomniac Inc., didn't see extreme disconnects among music types. "People are more open to listening to lots of genres of music nowadays." Lee Anderson, an agent at AM Only who represents Skillrex, saw the excitement happening with dance's sense of newness: "there's a sense of discovery with dance music with young people, and that's causing the explosion."
White also believed that DJ's nowadays stand out with ability and personality, not to mention that they have the advantage of not having to worry about the old inter-group squabbles. Rotella thought that there's been a recent focus on concerts so he encourages acts to be more visual, rather than just standing still, so that they can help make shows into real events - especially since, as Anderson and White insisted, touring is where the acts make their money nowadays. Anderson thought that technology is the key, specifically blogs, social media, videos and content captured and making the rounds virtually.
Stein explained that foreign markets would also be prime in spreading dance music. Moderator Michael Cohen (founder, Complete Control Management) said that an important factor was also the big shift at a college level where DJ culture has started to click in the last few years. Maybe not a rock-killer as such, but the panel made a convincing case for dance music's impact today.