Dance

Global Dance Music Industry's Value Slides to 10-Year Low: 2021 IMS Business Report

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Each year, the IMS Business Report offers insights on the key financial, musical and cultural trends from the global dance music industry. After an unprecedented freefall year for dance music and the live music industry at large, professionals and fans throughout the dance music space are keenly watching to see exactly how the pandemic delivered blows to core sectors while creating growth in other areas.

Today (June 28) we receive this statistical analysis via the presentation of the IMS Business Report. Happening virtually for the second year in a row, this presentation begins online at  9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET and will be live streamed via both Beatport’s TwitchFacebook, and YouTube and the Billboard Dance Facebook page. For the first time, the report (which can be downloaded here) has been prepared by data analyst David Boyle, who joined the IMS team in 2021 and prepared the report based on more than more than 35 data sets and 22 interviews with industry leaders.

During the presentation Boyle will offer the primary takeaways from a year that saw massive revenue decreases in clubs, festivals and artists earnings, but encouraging areas of growth in other emerging sectors like NFTs and livestreams.

Here, ahead of the presentation, are 10 key takeaways from the 2021 Report.

1. The pandemic set back the dance music industry to a size -- and value -- last seen more than a decade ago.

The 2021 report gives the global dance music industry a valuation of $3.4 billion, a number culled largely from the sales of software and hardware (which were up 23% this year as a result of the pivot to livestreaming, giving a total of $1.1 billion), along with music sales and streaming (valued at $1 billion), artist earnings ($0.3 billion) and clubs and festivals (which accounted for $1 billion, a number based on Q1 being largely normal and China being open for more than a quarter.)

The IMS Report valuation has not been so low for more than a decade and is a sharp decline from the 2020 valuation of $7.3 billion and the all-time high valuation of $7.4 billion in 2016.

2. The growth of hip-hop, which supplanted dance music in popularity over the last few years, seems to be plateauing. 

Boyle predicts that this plateau could create an opportunity for dance music to once again take centerstage, as it did during its EDM boom moment in the sun during 2013-2017. After five years of rapid growth in every country surveyed, hip-hop’s growth in U.S. and U.K. appears to have flatlined and its share in Germany declined for the first time in recent years. 

"Preparing for our next moment in the spotlight, there are lessons we should learn from Hip-Hop’s rise," Boyle writes in the report. "In a world of abundance, audiences gravitate to artists who are celebrities -- and Hip-Hop’s artists have it all. From fashion and language to character and stories. Hip-Hop artists are intertwined with aspirational parts of culture, adding scale but also cachet. With Daft Punk recently announcing their retirement, we have to ask ourselves: how can we help more fully rounded artists to emerge from our scene…while helping artists that want to stay true to the underground find success without having to be pop stars?"

3. Dance music has a stable and sizable share of the U.S. market.

In 2020, dance music accounted for 3.2% share of total recorded music, which Boyle calls "a significant achievement without the festivals and clubs that would usually amplify hits and build audiences." This year's percentage dropped from 3.6% in 2019 and an all-time 2016 high of 4% during the mid-2010s. 

"Dance’s decline in relevance is confirmed by analysis of representation on the top Spotify charts," Boyle writes. "Fewer electronic artists make the chart in every country we studied."

4. Festivals and clubs lost 78% of their value due to the pandemic. 

This decrease represents$3.4 billion in lost value. That said, Boyle and other industry experts believe this loss is temporary, as data shows that demand for events is booming. The value of festival tickets sold is up 123% when comparing March through May of 2021 to March through May of 2019. The value of festival tickets sold in March, 2021 was more than was solid in all of 2020. The value of festival tickets sold was up 3,999% in March 2021 compared to the same period last year. 

5. The value of DJ and artist earnings was down $743 million, or 68%, compared to 2019.

This statistic is unsurprising given that the pandemic closed clubs and festivals and forced most artists off the road for more than a year. That said, many artists were able to turn a profit via earnings made via livestreaming platforms like Twitch.

6. Beatport, and vinyl, both experienced a boost. 

The digital electronic music store saw 33% growth this year, despite the broader downloads market declining by 16%. For the fifth year in a row, techno was the most popular genre on Beatport, with house rising to second, tech house coming it at third, drum & bass coming in at fourth and melodic house at fifth. The Dance/Electro Pop genre, which debuted on Beatport in September of 2020, entered the top ten at No. 8. 

Meanwhile, vinyl sales were up 24% in 2020. (Comparatively, this market saw only a 4% rise in 2019.)

7. Electronic artists pioneered NFTs for digital collectibles.

76% of all music NFT issues, worth $50.2 million, were issued by electronic artists. "After experiments with NFTs up to and including 2020, electronic artists finally catapulted them to the forefront of the music industry’s attention in early 2021," the report states. "For all the fuss that’s been made over NFTs, we are only in the earliest of early days of seeing their potential."

8. Electronic music achieved major audience engagement on social media in 2020 -- but not as much as artists of other genres. 

A survey of how the top 100 Spotify Electronic Music performed across social media found that Instagram followers increased by 10% during 2020, the number of "love" reactions on Facebook increased by 36%, Facebook reactions increased 43%, Impressions on Facebook increased by 26%. Facebook comments increased by 32%, Facebook likes increased by 50% and Overall actions on Facebook increased by 41%. Over on YouTube, dance music artists saw a 76% increase in views and a 319% increase in comments, even though the number of videos posted only increased about 3%.

All that said, electronic music generally did not do as well as other genres in terms of engagement. Across eight genres -- pop, hip-hop, K-pop, Latin & Caribbean, R&B, Rock and Country -- dance music ranked sixth in overall actions across YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

9. In terms of inclusion and representation, the dance scene is still lagging. 

While Black Lives Matter created hope that the famously white and male-oriented dance music scene would become more inclusive of artists of color -- with many promoters and companies issuing promises that they'd book and hire more people of color -- there is no evidence that this is yet happening. Using DJ Mag's Top 100 DJ's list as a basis of comparison, Boyle found that this list featured 12 people of color in 2020.  (This was up from 8 in 2019, and eight and six in 2018 and 2017, respectively.)

"However," Boyle writes, "that follows 10 in 2017 and nine in 2016 and 2015, so the recent growth follows a decline and is not a strong upward trajectory." DJs of color have highest share of search in the UK and the lowest in the Asian and Latin American countries.

In terms of gender, 13 female artists were on the DJ Mag list in this year. While this number represents growth, the demand for female artists remains low, with female DJs accounting for just 4% of demand (as measured by Google Search volume) generated by the top 100. 

10. Livestreams created a lifeline for many artists and dance brands, with these entities only needed a small, but engaged, group of followers in order to experience online success. 

The report cites the benchmarks of "enrolling, engaging and exciting" audiences in order to achieve success via livestreaming, which is expected to remain a revenue driver if artists can continually find ways to engage these core audiences. In the last year, dance entities Beatport, Anjuna, Steve Aoki, ASOT, Abracadabra, RayRay, Porter Robinson, Gabriel & Dresden, Soundcloud, Defected Records, David Morales and DJ Mag have together aggregated 1,195,484 new followers on Twitch.