How many times as a DJ or producer have you heard, “But you’re not making real music!” The Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), announced on January 28 at the Midem music convention, strives to combat such widespread assumptions.
According to Music Week’s initial report, the not-for-profit advocacy and lobbying organization looks to forward the cause of electronic music, give it recognition, and create a unified, global voice. Specifically, as AFEM’s website claims, the organization was founded “to represent the common interests of all individuals and companies whose business is electronic dance music and to advocate on behalf of electronic dance music as a musical genre.”
A genre with global worth of $4 billion, in theory, would already have such support, but the individuals behind the organization, including Ben Turner (partner of the International Music Summit and manager of Richie Hawtin) and lawyer Kurosh Nasseri, find this not to be the case. Turner, in an interview with Billboard, explained, “Everyone involved in this genre has been told DJing isn’t real music, a real genre. Now it’s one of the most important genres in a world. But still we’re treated as a genre that’s not quite as valid as guitar music. Whilst we’re in this huge growth period, we need to work together to protect our genre. We’ve seen implosions, and we don’t want it to happen again.”
To Mixmag, Turner cited recent instances that, even with the genre’s greater profile, hint electronic music isn’t part of the global musical spectrum. The BRIT Awards’ recently-dropped dance music category and Deadmau5’s Grammys performance on the sidewalk rather than on the stage are two instances that stuck out for Turner. As minor as these two perceived slights are in EDM’s path to global domination, we sort of agree.
Creating a voice and maintaining the genre’s relevance only partially compose AFEM’s mission. According to Turner, they plan to develop the “long-term infrastructure that [electronic music] needs to flourish,” build a “future alliance for future music,” and analyze the genre’s influence and value on a global scale. The first item on the organization’s to-do list, the study will form AFEM’s foundation for future moves and is expected to take four months to complete. Additionally, as Turner told Mixmag, AFEM, once it attracts more professionals, is expected to provide a network for advice and knowledge, to encompass underground and mainstream performers, and to eventually address concert safety.
Now that the organization – the first global body representing a single genre since the Country Music Association started in 1958 – is formed and plans to first officially convene at the 2013 Winter Music Conference, the question is, how do industry professionals beyond the big names at Ultra, Armada, Beatport, and Live Nation benefit, if at all? Although a comprehensive plan to officially unify and benefit professionals of all types, similar to the Screen Actors Guild, has not been announced, Turner hinted at greater inclusion in his Billboard and Mixmag interviews.
Membership is open to all companies and individuals specializing in electronic music. Fees are to be reasonable, with different membership options added soon. It’s predicted that as many as 10,000 businesses could eventually join.