IMS Biz Report: Global EDM Market Falls 2 Percent to $7.3 Billion

Electric Zoo
Brian Killian/Getty Images

Atmosphere during the Electric Zoo Wild Island Festival at Randall's Island on Sept. 4, 2016 in New York City.

Dance music record sales in North America are also down, although DJ earnings up.

After years of successive growth, largely powered by a thriving North American market, the global electronic music business slipped by 2 percent in 2017 to $7.3 billion, down from $7.4 billion the previous year.

A key factor behind the fall was a decline in EDM record sales in several major markets, reports the IMS Business Report 2018, an annual economic study of the electronic music industry -- spanning sales, DJ earnings, clubs, festivals and branding -- presented today (May 23) at The International Music Summit in Ibiza.

In the U.S., dance and electronic music’s share of the recorded music market fell to 3.5 percent in 2017, down from 4 percent the year before. In Canada, it dropped to 4.8 percent from 6.3 percent and there were also declines in Germany and the United Kingdom, two of Europe’s biggest EDM territories.

Given the global upturn across the music industry over the several years, such results could be read as a sign of EDM’s faltering popularity, but IMS says the opposite is true and that the fall is down to many crossover EDM tracks now being classified as pop or R&B in sales data as the once underground genre becomes deeper embedded in mainstream culture.

To back up its claims, the report cites a 2017 Nielsen study into listening habits in Asia Pacific, which found that a large proportion of those surveyed listed to dance music. It also points to the popularity of the ‘mint’ electronic playlist on Spotify - its sixth most popular, with 5 million followers – while download sales at EDM retailer Beatport grew by over 7 percent in 2017, says report author Kevin Watson of London-based Danceonomics.

Meanwhile, estimated DJ earnings rebounded in 2017, with the top 10 DJs in the world earning $279 million thanks to the continued popularity of Calvin Harris ($49 million last year, according to Forbes data), Tiesto ($39 million) and The Chainsmokers ($38 million).

The overall live market for EDM events similarly continues to grow globally, while last year’s acquisition of Netherlands-based Spinnin' Records by Warner Music Group (a deal estimated to be worth over $100 million) is the third largest electronic music deal in recent years, claims Watson. Funding in electronic music companies also remains strong, he says, identifying recent multi-million-dollar investments in Mixcloud, Splice and Native Instruments. 

The report does not include financial breakdowns for how much the recorded, live or branding EDM business is worth.

Looking forward, the survey estimates that the global EDM industry could be worth nearly $9 billion by 2021 - if the overall music industry continues to grow at its projected rate and EDM maintains its current market share.