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Global Electronic Music Industry, Worth $7.1 Billion Last Year, Sees Growth Slow

The global electronic music industry's growth may be slowing down, but it's not the disaster some might think.

The International Music Summit today released its global business report for 2016, which takes stock of the electronic music industry over the past year. And while growth in the sector is slowing — up just 3.5 percent year-over-year, the smallest chunk of a 59 percent increase over the past three — the electronic field is echoing the larger trends of the global recorded music industry as reported by the IFPI earlier this year.

There has been plenty of talk about the “EDM bubble” in recent months, as the craze that swept the U.S. in the past five years and spurred a massive boost in interest (and festivals and clubs and money) in the genre seemed to have run its course. The IMS business report pokes holes in that hysteria, instead portraying an industry reverting back to the mean — and one with a viable path towards steady, sustained growth.

But first, the “bad” news: the past 12 months have seen the smallest growth in the worth of the electronic music sector since 2012/2013, increasing just $200 million (3.5 percent) to $7.1 billion. Following that, the total earnings for Forbes’ Electronic Cash Kings list grew just 3 percent, from $252 million to $258 million, with top earner Calvin Harris remaining even atop the list at $66 million. (Nos. 2-3 on the list grew 20 percent apiece; Nos. 4-9 on the list saw a total decline of 7 percent.)

But growth is still growth, and compared to the larger global music industry report, dance music seems like it’s still in a good place. The IFPI highlighted the explosive growth of streaming as digital revenue soared past physical for the first time ever and the recorded music industry as a whole saw an uptick in overall revenue at a rate of 3.2 percent, spurred by big increases in Asia (+5.7 percent) and Latin America (+11.8 percent) that themselves are driven by massive streaming gains. In the electronic space, streaming has grown 33 percent year over year to 14.9 billion streams, as the industry overall almost doubled across all genres. But it’s growing in the right areas; nine of the 20 new additions to DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs of 2016 come from Asia, according to the IMS report, the most of any region, while new festivals have already opened in Cuba, Panama, Vietnam and the Philippines this year.

In the U.S., a study led by Nielsen Music and included in the IMS report shows that electronic music-related events are the only U.S. live music events showing year-over-year increases, rising as high as 3 percent for club events as music festivals across genres hold steady across the board. Electric Daisy Carnival in New Jersey brought in a $11.2 million gross with 91,000-plus in attendance in 2015, according to Billboard Boxscore, making it the fourth highest-grossing festival in the world last year behind Coahcella, Outside Lands and Stagecoach. And as streaming continues spreading nearly exponentially, streams account for 54 percent of all dance music sales in the U.S., the second-highest genre-specific percentage behind Latin’s 73 percent.

Other facts of note that are included in the report: techno overtook tech house as the No. 1-selling sub-genre in the Beatport store, with drum and bass making significant gains; average Soundcloud followers (+36 percent) and YouTube subscribers (+68 percent) of the highest ranked DJs have continued steady growth; “at least” one in 7 Europeans have attended a dance music festival in the past year, including 33 percent of Spaniards; and fair revenue mechanisms from streaming services like Soundcloud is the No. 1 most important driver of future success for the genre, according to a survey, topping “approach to drug harm,” “government legislation” and “percentage of women.”