The role of YouTube channels in breaking electronic artists is often sidelined by talk of radio placements and Spotify playlists. Millions of dance fans discover new music through an ever-expanding network of YouTube curators who’ve helped elevate artists like marshmello, Krewella, ODESZA, and Galantis.
The leading dance channels scaled up from hobby projects between friends. “In the beginning, things were small, fun, and really disorganized,” says Josh Carr-Hilton, whose Vancouver-based media company The District manages most channels in the space. “Now we collectively generate over 1.2 billion streams a month.” The best-known curators have also diversified beyond YouTube, establishing record labels, branded tours, and festival stages. Here are five at the top of their game.
Founder: Andre Benz
Artists Promoted: Illenium, marshmello, San Holo, Yellow Claw, R3HAB
Growth: In addition to Trap Nation, Benz’s The Nations network has expanded to include the likes of House Nation, Bass Nation and Chill Nation — a savvily curated and designed collective that is one of YouTube’s biggest players.
Founder: “MrSuicideSheep” (who chooses to remain anonymous)
Artists Promoted: Jaymes Young, Adventure Club, ODESZA, Seven Lions, XYLØ
Growth: Led by its mysterious founder, the channel is primarily an incubator for emerging talent across the electronic spectrum. It also has moved beyond curation with a spinoff label, Seeking Blue, and an online merch store.
Founder: Mike Darlington and Ari Paunonen
Artists Promoted: Krewella, marshmello, Pegboard Nerds, Snails, Getter
Growth: Beginning in 2011, CEO Darlington and his team built this channel into an influential digital label and event producer. The label will host its first stage and feature Monstercat success stories at Belgium’s Tomorrowland festival in July.
Founder: Blake Coppelson
Artists Promoted: The Chainsmokers, Galantis, Audien, Morgan Page, Vicetone
Growth: Thanks to a very loyal following, Proximity, which began as Pandoric in 2011, launched its own label in 2017. The lyric video for its first release, Morgan Page and Steve James’ “Candles,” has amassed over 6.4 million YouTube views.
Founder: Nick HP
Artists Promoted: Tourist, Bondax, Snakehips, Cyril Hahn, Hayden James
Growth: Majestic’s often-imitated aesthetic pairs soft-focus stills of models with dreamy music. It has introduced pop-leaning deep house, indie and chillout acts to a global audience and has launched a label and event series.