Ultra Music Festival, Winter Music Conference, and Miami Music Week 2013
George Martinez
Ultra cofounder Russell Faibisch

Electronic dance music has conquered Miami. And America. And the world.

For more than three decades, it had remained a mostly underground phenomenon, epitomized by illegal raves held beneath highway overpasses in the UK or after-hours parties thrown in downtown Detroit's abandoned warehouses. But over the past few years, EDM has exploded, morphing into a massive, worldwide pop-culture movement that's seeped into every nook of Internet-connected civilization, from Bayfront Park to Boise, Idaho, to South Korea.

In some ways, the genre's mainstream exposure, especially in the States, has been steadily increasing since the mid- to late '90s, when crossover electronic acts such as Prodigy (1996's "Firestarter"), the Chemical Brothers (1997's "Block Rockin' Beats"), Daft Punk (1999's "Around the World"), and Moby (1999's "Natural Blues") began scoring prominent movie-soundtrack spots and seizing serious video play on MTV.

However, the genre's sudden 2010s surge in popular influence can probably be more directly attributed to big-budget, chart-topping collaborations between DJs like David "F*** Me I'm Famous" Guetta and Top 40 outfits like the Black Eyed Peas, whose 2009 megahit "I Gotta Feeling" slayed the Billboard charts, turned millions of tweens onto dance pop, and even snagged a Grammy.

The immediate aftereffect: a thousand other celebrity-jock-meets-pop-star tracks, from Rihanna hooking up with Calvin Harris to Pitbull and Afrojack demanding "Give Me Everything." And soon DJs were the new rock stars.

In just the past 12 months, Deadmau5 has gotten his masked mug splashed across the covers of Rolling Stone and Vibe, while also finding the time to meet, woo, and propose marriage (via Twitter) to reality-TV star Kat Von D. Also, Tiësto landed a job with Guess designing "NytLyf" gear for the mall set, Avicii inked an endorsement deal with Ralph Lauren, and DJ Pauly D launched Remix Cocktails, his very own ready-to-drink "pre-gaming" beverage.

In fact, the whole so-called EDM industry has become so heavily hyped and surprisingly profitable that even Forbes (a publication whose motto is "The Capitalist Tool") has begun tracking its billion-dollar profits.

"Every so often, the tectonic plates of mainstream musical taste shift," America's foremost biweekly chronicle of the wealthy explained in the introduction to "Electronic Cash Kings," its 2012 list of the world's ten richest DJs, topped by Tiësto and his $22-million-per-year paychecks.

"In the 1960s, there was the British Invasion, followed by disco in the 1970s and the rise of glam metal in the 1980s. The 1990s saw the advent of grunge and the resurgence of boy bands, followed by hip-hop's hegemony in the 2000s. Now, the tables are turning again."

Of course, the electronic dance music trickle-down is more like a tsunami in Miami, the longtime home of both Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival. And with nine local clubs ranking among the 100 most profitable nightlife venues in the nation (including LIV, earning $46 million to $60 million per year at number four), the financial boon isn't just a one-time-a-year thing either.

Predictably, though, the most intense and concentrated yearly EDM cash infusion is Ultra, which (according to a study conducted by the Washington Economics Group and commissioned by UMF organizers) has an annual economic impact on Miami-Dade County totaling $79 million, including $32 million in labor income and $50 million in GDP contributions. No doubt, that's big beat-freaking business.

"We always knew from the huge crowds we draw that we had a major impact on our local economy, but we did not realize it was this huge," Ultra founder Russell Faibisch said in a statement accompanying the report. "Last year, people in all 50 states and more than 75 countries bought tickets to attend."

Yet even with monster pop success and fast-rising profits, the surging electronic dance music movement has still inspired backlash. In our own city, the counter-reaction cropped up most noticeably when Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff introduced a resolution "disapproving" of Ultra Music Festival's inaugural two-weekend plan for 2013.

Fear-mongering and grandstanding, the politician insisted the fest would "be disruptive to the local business community and area residents due to noise, nuisance behavior of festival-goers, and grid-lock traffic." Not to mention "about 70 to 80 percent of these kids are on some sort of mind-altering drug."

Sarnoff's brief campaign against UMF was silly, misguided, and ultimately futile. But it was also the kind of moment that forced current EDM culture to transcend the chart beats, dollar counts, and oversold hype. Longtime proponents of the scene, such as DJ-producer Tommie Sunshine and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, came to Ultra's defense. Fans pestered the commissioner via phone, email, and petition. And the resolution was defeated.

It was a real reminder of what EDM means and why the music matters. As Mr. Sunshine, in an interview with New Times for this guide, explains: "It changes your life. The more people we can get to the party, the better."


Twenty Best Club Parties During WMC and Miami Music Week 2013

Ten Most Exciting Acts at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Avicii Hotel Pops Up at Marlin Hotel March 15 to 25

Deadmau5 at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Tiesto at Ultra Music Festival 2013

EyeParty EDM Glasses at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Snoop Lion at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Top Five Trap Stars at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Hard Miami and Hard Miami Pool Party During WMC March 20-22

Ten Best Pool Parties During WMC and Miami Music Week 2013

Ten Best EDM Cruises During WMC and Miami Music Week 2013

Danny Daze at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Jesse Perez at WMC and Miami Music Week 2013

Red Blue Classic DJ Basketball Charity Game During Winter Music Conference March 19

Carl Cox at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Flying Circus 2013 With M.A.N.F.L.Y., Tiefschwarz, Azari & III at Villa 221 March 20

The Weeknd at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Maceo Plex at WMC, Miami Music Week, and Ultra Music Festival 2013 Last Resort 2013, With Maceo Plex, Michael Mayer, Tiger & Woods, at Villa 221 March 24

Tommie Sunshine at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Gato y Disco With Azari & III, PillowTalk, Tensnake at Bardot March 20

Boys Noize and Skrillex's Dog Blood at Ultra Music Festival 2013

Hotflush Miami, With Scuba, Eric Prydz, George Fitzgerald, Dusky at Electric Pickle March 23

Maceo Plex at WMC, Miami Music Week, and Ultra Music Festival 2013

Dirtybird Players BBQ With Claude VonStroke, De La Soul, Justin Martin at Villa 221 March 21

Eric Prydz at WMC, Miami Music Week, and Ultra Music Festival 2013

Juicy Beach 2013, With Robbie Rivera, Bob Sinclar, Cosmic Gate at Nikki Beach March 21

Knife Party at Ultra Music Festival 2013

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