To honor the extraordinary work of the music community’s unsung people and brands, we’ve recognized 10 industry leaders whose contributions helped shape the future of dance music in 2021.
EDM.com proudly publishes four installments of annual year-end coverage: Industry Leaders, Performances, Music Producers, and Songs.
Oftentimes, end-of-year coverage offered by the music industry’s vast pool of publications is limited to its artists and performers.
In order to honor the extraordinary work of the music community’s unsung people and brands, we’ve recognized 10 industry leaders whose contributions helped shape the future of dance music in 2021.
Las Vegas, one of EDM’s most competitive markets, saw a newcomer in Resorts World, who landed on the iconic Strip to the tune of $4.3 billion. The ambitious project was easily the biggest development on the block in over a decade.
Handling the property’s critical nightlife operations is Zouk Group, an illustrious events powerhouse out of Singapore that had virtually no presence in the U.S. Though the prospect of testing the waters in the stateside market with a billion dollar project in Sin City would likely overwhelm even the most established companies, Zouk is already showing they’ve got the formula and the talent in their resident DJs to change the fabric of Vegas nightlife.
As the music industry raced to the metaverse in 2021, no one made more strides than Sensorium Galaxy, who adopted EDM on their quest to revolutionize live music experiences as we know it.
Sensorium’s jaw-dropping PRISM portal, which the company has called “the world’s most advanced metaverse,” offers a glimpse into the future of virtual concerts and music festivals. It’s here where a number of the most renowned electronic music artists in the world, such as Eric Prydz, David Guetta, and Black Coffee, will perform in VR as part of an Avengers-like DJ team dubbed “The Chosen Ones.”
Sensorium’s technology utilizes 3D scanning and motion capture to map photorealistic avatars of each artist. To boot, they’ve also developed AI-powered avatars who are able to not only communicate with real humans in PRISM, but also function as DJs.
Affectionately known as the “Piano House Queen,” LP Giobbi’s influence extends far beyond her music production abilities. A powerhouse DJ and dance music beatsmith, she also operates as a pathfinding entrepreneur and industry executive.
An ardent feminist, Giobbi founded the FEMME HOUSE brand in 2019 as a platform to address the glaring gender inequity and lack of representation in electronic music, aiming to empower women to learn the language of the studio. In just a few short years, the nonprofit has opened an online academy for music production, diversified stages with high-profile partners like Bandsintown, and hosted scores of free educational workshops.
In addition to her nonprofit work, Giobbi also holds the titles of North American Music Director for W Hotels and Co-Founder of Animal Talk, an influential record label and artist collective launched in collaboration with Grammy-nominated dance music duo SOFI TUKKER. An unstoppable force in the EDM arena, Giobbi is on a vigorous crusade to ameliorate its archaic standards and foster a more equitable ecosystem for all.
With NFTs selling like hotcakes throughout 2021, visual designers have been in particularly high demand. Among them is Greg Mike, whose penchant for colorfully wacky, cartoonish characters has made him a household name for artists looking to build communities in the red-hot audiovisual space.
Greg Mike kicked off the year by reconnecting with NGHTMRE, whom he first met nine years ago, and collaborating with the bass music superstar on a stunning series of NFTs called “A Day In The Life.” More recently, he and deadmau5 joined forces to mix and match a variety of textures, shapes, and objects and use them to 3D-generate a collection of 5,555 NFTs called “head5.” Working alongside the legendary electronic music producer, he also hand painted a number of physical mau5heads, which sold at packed pop-up shops in Denver and Miami for tens of thousands each.
Thanks to a dizzying stream of creative releases and partnerships, the star of Astralwerks grew even brighter in 2021.
Groundbreaking long-form musical projects became the norm for the Universal Music Group-owned label this year. In February, they joined forces with storied jazz imprint Blue Note Records to usher in a new wave of lo-fi music by launching their groundbreaking compilation series, Bluewerks. Astralwerks went on to release ZHU’s sumptuous DREAMLAND LP, Gorgon City’s expansive Olympia album, and Kito’s stunning Blossom EP, among many other remarkable works. The latter record was a particularly innovative endeavor that included a music video featuring dancers from Beyoncé’s acclaimed film and visual album, Black Is King.
Astralwerks, who recently signed Grammy-nominated duo Bob Moses, also dropped countless celebrated singles in 2021. Those include “A Drug From God,” a hotly anticipated club record by Chris Lake and Grimes; California Dreamin’,” an inventive house track from Chris Lorenzo that samples the 1965 hit of the same name; and “Renegade,” the first new music in eight years from synthwave pioneer Kavinsky.
As if the prestige of Boiler Room’s warehouse shows wasn’t enough, the pricey acquisition of the fabled electronic music brand by ticketing platform DICE only reinforced its importance in the scene this year.
2021 also saw Boiler Room’s events jump the pond from Europe to North America, with shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Miami helping expand its influence in the robust stateside dance music market. A quick scan of its YouTube channel will immerse you in “had to be there” DJ sets from a meticulously curated list of trendsetters, like Manuka Honey, Jordss and Ash Lauryn, as well as scores of established artists such as Boys Noize, DJ Boring, Shlømo and 박혜진 Park Hye Jin.
With decades-long relationships with some of R&B and hip-hop’s biggest artists, renowned mix engineer Kevin Davis already has two Grammys under his belt for his indelible contributions to albums by OutKast and Ne-Yo. But after 2021, it’s now clear that he is deeply embedded not only in these communities, but also those in the electronic music sphere.
Davis is credited on Virgil Abloh’s early-2021 single, “Delicate Limbs” (with serpentwithfeet), which proved to be the last original song released by the late DJ and fashion icon prior to his tragic death in November. Davis’ stellar work on Subconsciously, the latest album from legendary South African dance music producer Black Coffee, was vital to its Grammy Award nomination in the category of Best Dance/Electronic Album. He also had a hand in mixing Sofia Carson’s Leave Your Heart on the Dance Floor, an EP comprising remixes produced by EDM luminaries Tiësto, R3hab, and Tracy Young.
Stewarding one of the most influential rosters in both electronic and contemporary music, Blood Company’s dedication to activating their clients’ art in innovative ways is unmatched.
For example, their commitment to intricate, mind-bending marketing strategies for the enigmatic Deathpact left fans chasing the white rabbit like Neo and co. Blood Company has also been vital in cultivating the breakneck career of Kenny Beats, a former electronic music artist and DJ who has solidified himself as one of the most sought-after producers in hip-hop. Kenny is joined on the company’s roster by Skrillex, Mr. Carmack, Mija, 100 gecs, Boys Noize, Zedd, and many more.
With some of the most creative behind-the-scenes work and a superstar cast, Blood Company made a statement this year. And as the electronic dance music scene becomes more and more of a technological tinderbox, they hold the match in 2022.
MUSIC PUBLICITY FIRM
From late night television to the covers of Rolling Stone, High Rise’s A-list clients—from Billie Eilish to Tove Lo to Icona Pop—are practically everywhere. But in 2021, a slew of the firm’s campaigns saw the careers of their dance music artists reach new heights.
Aluna announced her first-ever curated music festival and was interviewed for the pages of Vogue. SG Lewis, whose breakthrough year included a viral Bee Gees remix on TikTok and a pie-in-the-sky collab with Elton John, released his debut album and received plaudits from Pitchfork, Billboard, Forbes, and NME, among other esteemed media outlets. High Rise are ushering some of dance-pop’s most prolific artists into the public eye, and the awareness for and popularity of their artists—including Elohim, K.Flay and Years & Years—is only growing stronger.
This year the “big four” agencies became the “big three” after CAA, in a bold statement, moved to acquire their competition, ICM Partners. Touted by many as the biggest shakeup in the entertainment business in the last decade, the acquisition will merge CAA-repped artists like David Guetta and Oliver Heldens with the likes of Skrillex, Alison Wonderland and many more, all under one roof.
The landmark deal’s financial disclosures have not yet been released and the impact of the merger may not fully be realized for some time. However, it’s difficult to underestimate how its scale, in terms of both market reach and negotiation power, is likely to benefit both CAA and its formidable roster of artists well into the future.