Honorable mentions Fisher and Loud Luxury became two of dance music's hottest tickets this year on the strength of breakthrough releases.
Emerging artists are shaking up dance music's starting rotation of headliners, who are pushing the envelope with their sounds, branding, fan connections and more.
While dance titans like Calvin Harris and Zedd continued to reign supreme in 2018, this year's spotlight found many fresh faces with big hits -- both in the club and on the radio -- in addition to familiar faces taking major leaps with their artistry.
Billboard Dance took into account several factors in deciding this year's breakout artist and honorable mentions, including hard ticket sales, standout releases, fan engagement and more.
See below for our picks.
Breakout Artist of the Year: Alison Wonderland
Fortune favors the bold, and this year, Australia's Alison Wonderland took a great risk to earn greater rewards. Her second studio album Awake was released in April. The body of work is notably experimental in sound and vulnerable in its subject. Wonderland defeats her inner demons in a beautiful, melodic, bass-heavy battle that landed the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart and reached No. 88 on the Billboard 200. She credits co-producer Joel Little, who famously worked with Lorde and others, with helping her step outside of her comfort zone. Her year's highlights include being given the highest-billing for a female DJ in Coachella's history, alongside last year's Breakout Artist REZZ. Wonderland stormed the Sahara stage, playing cello, singing and bringing out "High" collaborator Trippie Redd. She also gave a spirited set on Tomorrowland's main stage, for which she produced tons of new edits and remixes. She embarked on a proper Awake tour with support from Baauer, Party Favor, Elohim, Chet Porter and Bleep Bloop. Billboard Dance named Awake the eighth best electronic dance album of the year, and Wonderlan's wasting no time in 2019 with a co-headline tour with Dillon Francis in late January in support of the pair's forthcoming single "Lost My Mind." -- KAT BEIN
Runner Up: Fisher
This Australian producer did nothing but win in 2018. Fisher broke out in 2017 with the successful single, "Ya Kidding," and a two-track EP titled Oi Oi. In 2018, he stepped out strong with "Crowd Control," a song that bounced its way into festival sets and clubs with a fat, rumbling bassline and a cool, authoritative vocal. However, it was "Losing It" in July that shot the energetic producer straight into the spotlight. The boat-siren bellow boomed in sets by artists as varied as David Guetta, Paul van Dyk and Afrojack, plus Fisher's own sets at HARD Summer, Movement, Electric Forest, EDC Las Vegas and more. It's racked up nearly 27 million streams on Spotify and more than 6.5 million views on YouTube, and Elon Musk even tweeted it out in celebration of his Boring Company's initial tunnel completion. The song is up for Best Dance Recording at the 2019 Grammys. Fisher just sold out two nights at L.A.'s Shrine Expo Hall, with support from his buddy Chris Lake, and we happen to know he's got a lot of cool things planned for the first quarter of 2019. -- KAT BEIN
On The Bubble: Loud Luxury
The year 2018 has been a whirlwind one for Canadian duo Loud Luxury, whose global hit on Armada Music, "Body" featuring brando, catapulted them into the limelight. With more than half a billion streams now under their belts, and a deep, club-quaking sound taking aim at both the dance and pop world, Loud Luxury has become one of the most exciting acts to add to big stage lineups. From fiery performances at ÎleSoniq and HARD Summer to forthcoming gigs at Lollapalooza and Hangout, the group's momentum is at an all-time high. However, their success did not materialize overnight. Just a few years ago, the duo's Andrew Fedyk and Joe Depace were living in a one-bedroom apartment together and surfing SoundCloud in hopes of finding artists to write music with. This past March, Loud Luxury were featured as one of Billboard Dance's artists to watch and this upcoming March, they will be performing at the 2019 Juno Awards. Look out for these young guns next year. -- DAVE RISHTY