Recent deaths threaten rising business of EDM shows

BY ANDREA RICKETTI
BUSINESS WRITER

The popular new music genre of electric dance music (EDM) has attracted much more than music lovers. The EDM business encompasses a vast variety of festivals that feature famous DJs and intricate light shows. According to a Sept. 9 New York Times article, the EDM industry has attracted an astonishing $4.5 billion in revenue, which has gotten the attention of Wall Street investors and other major sponsors. Despite this industry’s huge revenue, the drug-related deaths have alarmed both investors and fans. While it is no surprise that drugs are prevalent at concerts, the recent string of deaths has scared away potential investors and fans.

Since March 2013, seven teenagers attending EDM events have passed away from overdosing on MDMA drugs, often referred to as molly and ecstasy. The Electric Zoo festival was cancelled in September after two concert attendees passed away from overdosing on MDMA. Drug-related deaths are currently scaring away investors and sponsors that were willing to pour copious amounts of money into the industry. These deaths have occurred at an unfortunate time, just weeks before the initial public offering by SFX entertainment. This new company, whose fortunes derive from sponsorship and media deals for EDM, anticipates raising $300 million dollars through its public offering. SFX wanted to spend its fortunes on promoters like Made Event, the company responsible for Electric Zoo. However, with the recent deaths, many investors feel hesitant to invest in a business that receives negative connotation.

The sponsors this year alone for Electric Zoo included Coors Light, Blue Moon, Vita Coco, Hi-Chew and Absolut Vodka. Many of these corporations have delivered public statements speaking against the drug scene. Pacifico Beer stated that its sponsorships “are focused on providing a peaceful, safe and responsible environment for fans 21-and-older to enjoy our product, and are made on a case-by-case basis.” Performers such as Armin van Buuren, A-Trak, Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia have spoken against the use of drugs. Harris, who is sponsored by Pepsi Corporation, has made multiple statements to separate him from the drug world associated with EDM concerts.

Many companies have retracted their sponsorships and want to separate their names from the EDM culture. It is a shame that these concerts are viewed in a negative light, since a plethora of money lies with the concerts. While it is impossible to stop people from consuming drugs before the concerts, many event organizers have made a promise to heighten security. Hopefully this will stop the drug-related deaths so more companies can invest in this booming, promising industry.

Contact the writer: andrea.ricketti@scranton.edu

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