January 5, 2022
Each passing year represents a shift in the music industry. The evolution of sound, how listeners consume music, rehashing old tropes. In 2021 we learned that there could be new ways to consume music even in a crowded streaming market. Twitch and Audius blossomed as two new platforms for dance music fans to get that house music fix. We also witnessed 90s nostalgia in full swing, whether we liked it or not.
2021 had a bit of everything. As we enter 2022, we can reflect on one thing 2021 has taught us: nothing is promised. The pandemic put a halt to live music and concert tours, and artists had to get creative in how they continued to reach their fans and put out new music.
The slowdown of the music business in 2021 has forever changed the shape of the industry. Yet it produced some groundbreaking trends that we hope are here to stay.
Livestreams became popular, with venues in flux in 2020 and 2021. Social media platforms with video streaming and sharing capabilities such as Twitch and Facebook Live have provided musicians and their fans the opportunity to connect through streams. They gave us a forum to enjoy our favorite artists and explore new tunes in real-time while interacting with fellow house heads.
Whether the streaming media included short, raw performances hinting at future music or full-fledged online music festival. These performances allowed giants like Paxhau, Dirtybird, and Desert Hearts to move forward with doing what they do best, entertaining the masses.
And for emerging artists, they provided limitless opportunities to advance their careers. By the time live shows returned, artists like Mary Droppinz and Nala had established new and growing fan bases that helped make them enticing to festival promoters. While artists like LP Giobbi and Sofi Tukker, while already fan favorites, streamed their way into superstar status because of their daily presence on Twitch.
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Festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, Awakenings, Ultra, and Tomorrowland continue to maintain live streams, making festivals more attainable to the masses—further propelling house music artists to household names.
The days of MTV being an actual music network that played actual music video are long gone. Music videos used to be a must for any hit song. However, social media sites and YouTube have reintroduced them as a necessary promotional tool. And yet another way for artists to creatively express their vision.
Music videos add a sheen to a song. They eliminate the uncertainty of understanding what an artist is trying to covey. They elevate the artist's vision and often add an additional layer of nuance to the message. There is power in creating curated and compelling visual narratives for the music. Artists like Will Clarke have mastered the medium, creating solid, visually stunning music videos.
Collaborations allow artists to tiptoe the line between genres and maybe do something that lies slightly outside of their comfort zone. While they aren't new to dance music, cross-genre collaborations exploded in 2021 due to the pandemic. Artists were in discovery mode. They had time to experiment with music and the ability to collaborate across vast distances via Zoom, Dropbox, Splice, and any number of collaborative platforms.
The door was wide open in 2021 for performers to pair up with their favorite artists of any genre. And the collaborations were nothing short of magical. With critically acclaimed partnerships in-house music with pop, rock, and hip-hop artists alike, we've seen dance music explode into the mainstream in unprecedented ways. The underground is becoming truly massive.
When a DJ drops the decks and plays live, it's a thrilling way to experience their work in a new way. Watching them actively create or remix their music is a kind of magic generally reserved for production studios.
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Over the past couple of years, we have started seeing a spike in Live Sets. Groups like Bob Moses, Wajatta, Rufus Du Sol, and WhoMadeWho are no strangers to the festival circuit. But seeing artists like this on more lineups only proves the value of "playing live."
The immense creativity and emotional weight that artists like Georgia Anjuli, Hannes Bieger, KiNK, and Motez, have created in performing their music live are indisputable—and seeing someone working multiple machines to create soundscapes before our eyes create an immensely meaningful dance floor experience that is difficult to match.
Here are some other producers taking the house music to new heights as live acts: Jacques Green, Rodriguez Jr, Rybo, and Jamie Jones with Kate Simko as Opus 1.
The internet and its many devices have allowed independent artists to find inventive ways to get in front of broader audiences in 2021. With touring out of the question for almost half the year, younger artists stepped out front as they took control of platforms like Tik Tok, Twitch, and Instagram and created new opportunities for growth outside of live shows.
They've allowed people the advantage of keeping their music constantly at their fingertips with personally curated playlists, creative content, unique livestreams, and insider videos. They were masters at manipulating the algorithms. As a result, the ever-growing ability to find underground artists across a changing digital landscape is more powerful than ever.
2021 was a treasure chest of indie artists starting to shine. Niles Shepard, Sammy Legs, Arnold & Lane, Nick Siarom, and Lubelski harnessed their powers and are fast becoming names to watch. The future continues to be bright for the underground.