The Netherlands has long been considered the epicenter for electronic dance music. For some, especially Tomorrowland lovers, Belgium might also be at the heart of EDM. However, in recent years, there is a new country witnessing a surge in dance music lovers: China. The boom of electronic dance music in Asia has brought in millions of Eastern listeners. Many in countries all over Asia have coined the genre “Eurobeat”––a homage to the significant European influence in the music.
NetEase, a top Chinese digital platform, reported that electronic dance music has become the second most popular music category in China. As evidence of this new boom, in 2017 DJ Carta became the first Chinese DJ to enter the popular DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs list, ranking at #92. He has steadily climbed up the chart every year since then, ranking at #61 this November.
DJ Carta signed onto Spinnin’ Records in 2016, becoming one of the first major Chinese artists to sign onto an international record label. In a similar fashion, fellow Chinese DJ Penta.Q signed onto Ultra Music last year.
The surge in EDM lovers in Asia may come as a surprise to many Western viewers: given that China blocks access to many online media platforms, including Facebook and SoundCloud, their citizens face more obstacles when sharing music digitally––a method very popular in America and Europe. But China has its own counterparts to major platforms, including Xiami, an online library with over 3 million tracks.
Not to mention, Asian listeners buy and share music primarily in the physical medium. CDs and DVDs are still very popular in Asian countries, and what’s more, they’re priced at a cheaper cost than in America, making them more accessible. This accessibility is one reason that explains the EDM boom in Asia.
Another factor contributing to the boom is STORM, the largest and most successful music festival in China. Beginning in 2013 in Shanghai, the festival was held annually and garnered an audience of 200,000. This is only one example: in 2018, the country hosted over 150 electronic dance music festivals.
Despite travel bans as a result of COVID-19, enjoyment of EDM has not slowed down in Asia. Thanks to strict measures to curb the virus growth, China has been able to safely enjoy a dozen or so music festivals. Swedish DJ Eric Prydz was even able to find a creative way around the travel ban to headline the CEA festival: he appeared in front of the crowd as a hologram livestream. Western artists might want to start taking notes, as this inventive method might be one way they can reach their fans in the middle of a pandemic.
The rising club scene in Asia means exciting possibilities for the future of EDM. DJs can now attract a larger audience, rock the deck in countless more international festivals, and dance music will experience Eastern influence, potentially creating a new sound altogether. Who knows, maybe one day Dutch listeners will rave about “Asiabeat.”