How to break artists via the dance market
It doesn’t matter if you don't know much about the dance market or not, more of which, I shall explain later in this article, it also doesn’t matter what style or genre of music your track is, as dance music transients into many forms, the benefit is there is no hard and fast rules, dance music is fairly unique in that most songs based music, regardless of its original audience, can be remixed and transferred into a symphony of dance floor mayhem or chilled out beats and trippy sounds. They are so many variables to dance, it’s forever changing and ultimately, it’s a great way to market new & existing artists, plus it's cost effective too.
There are of course certain songs, which lend themselves naturally to remixing and dance music versions, however there have also been some massive crossover records and artists broken off the back of remixes, which hardly even resemble the original whatsoever. One of these tracks that springs to mind, is Tori Amos’s ‘Professional Widow’, if you compare the original version to the massive smash remix that was produced by US House head Armand Van Helden, you can see where I’m coming from.
A good producer will be able to take a song from most genres and rework the song structure, identifying the hook elements and in most cases loop them up and create new more infectious hooks & sounds. Back to Armand’s version of Professional Widow, this is exactly what he did, looping up a small part of the original bass line and only using chopped up sectors of the vocal to creative an additional chorus style hook.
The dance market has notably exploded over recent years with the rise of EDM (electronic dance music) and genre’s like dub step and drum & bass, in recent years, we now see for the first time mainstream pop and R&B artists collaborating with top producers in Europe & the USA. The USA give birth to house music in Chicago in the mid 80’s with a mixture of new fresh sounds, using cutting edge technology from Roland, EMU and Yamaha to name but a few. Floor to the floor US disco beats and soulful vocal diva’s became nightclub and warehouse anthems overnight, widely embraced in Ibiza towards the end of the 80’s, certain DJ’s from the UK picked up on the new sound and brought it back to the UK. In the early years of house music American producers lead the way, but dance music within the space of 4 years had rolled into the 90’s a spawned a multitude of genres, from Techno, Industrial, Gabba, UK Hardcore, Jungle, Drum & bass, progressive house, trance, there is so many dance genres.
I am going off track slightly, but wanted to clearly explain to anyone reading this that isn’t into dance music, that there have been some radical developments and off shoots under the dance umbrella, and whilst there is too much volume, there is some extremely talented producers in the dance industry.
Major record labels have for years used the dance market to break new acts, it’s actually been going on a lot earlier that house music was ever thought of, and well before disco, who can forget rock n roll, if you’re old enough to recall, it was devil music in some people’s eyes, mainly the strict Christian parents of would be teenagers who were overwhelmed by image, sex appeal and new up tempo songs & rhythm.
So how do you go about breaking yourself or an artist you are responsible for in the dance market? First of all you have to consider the following:
+ What elements and hooks does the song include, are there elements which can be reworked and remixed (you may not know this, don’t worry at this stage)?
+ Having a vocal element or song can be ideal, as this gives the producer more options to construct a brand new chorus or stick to the original song structure, depending on what your remit is or their style. If left to their own devices, the producer may take a more minimal approach and focus on certain hook elements
+ Live elements – If the track has good live musical elements, this can be a great source to utilize in any remix version, which is why samples are used so much in dance music.
+ You need to consider the tempo of your track, some tracks will naturally fit into a certain genres, for example if you have a down tempo R&B track at 85 BPM (beats per minute), this may well work as a drum and bass version, which can combine half time vocals and 170 BPM beats
+ It should go without saying, but most producers / remixers are chosen for their certain sounds and styles and many have an large established following for their genre, which is something which can be tapped into from a marketing perspective.
What are the benefits of having a dance version of your single?
There is a massive clubbing community around the world, the market is huge, in general it's young people who buy the most music and with dance version's you can LEAP FROG the politics of Radio Play, Label's and the Major's.
Most DJ's are looking to break new music, they in general don't give a toss if it's got a million YouTube hits or just 3 views, it's about the record, their ear and how it works on a dance floor which is all important.
Distributing and promoting club music is easier than you think and it's again not as expensive either, I would recommend Power Promotions, the leading club music promotion's company, been around and making hits worldwide for over 20 years, you can find them here www.power.co.uk
Get some advise and do some research online, on the type of dance music which may fit your genre or song, you can SAVE MONEY and market your artist by way of creating and promoting an alternative version of the track.
Reaching a new audience is sometimes the key to getting you signed to a big label.
Everything but the girl - Missing
dropped by Virgin Records 6 weeks prior to the release of Todd's classic remix, doh...
A great example of an artist using the dance market to sell an album was Everything But The Girl, who were dropped by Virgin records. The record label decided to pull out of their album deal 6 week's prior to the launch of their single 'Missing' which included several dance versions.
Todd Terry did an awesome remix of their single and as soon as it hit the ground, the record blew up overnight into a worldwide smash, we are talking over a million record sales worldwide.
Everything but the girl were an unsigned act with a album ready to launch and a number one hit single in the UK charts, what a nice position to be in, hail Mr Todd Terry for a simple but oh so effective dance remix, not forgetting what a great song Missing is, much respect to Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt. They were immediately snapped up and went on to sell over a million copies of their album, I believe none of which would have happened had that remix not been done, but who can say to be fair.
Finding the right Remixer / Producer
So the next step is to look at a budget and find yourself a Remixer or Producer, you have a few options here.
+ You can do your research online, check out people's profiles on Soundcloud or Reverb Nation, maybe post something up on a forum or via social media, maybe you know someone is your network. This can be very limited, time consuming and hit and miss at best of times!
+ Approach an agency or artist management or label who represent a stable of dance producers. The issue here, like anything with a route through management is you normally have to pay top whack, which is right, people should be paid well for a quality job, I don't have any issues with this, however if you are on a tight budget and most people are, I would recommend you check the next approach below
I have had these issues over the years, where to go, who to use, how much to pay, I decided to do something about it, in fact not only did I do something about it, I looked at what independent artists, producers, singers and songwriters were lacking to find work, collaborate and in this case find quality Remixers & Producers at a rate which matches their budget. The solution I created is called Music Gateway www.musicgateway.net
I'm not going to go into detail about the platform, as I've just given it a plug, I will let you decide if a free to register service which generates work opportunities and empowers you to find the right professionals is a good thing, then that's great.
I hope you find of use, dance music it's not everyone's cup of tea, but try to embrace the process of marketing your act / artist / band via CONTENT which caters for certain markets, it gets better results and is more engaging.
Jon Skinner - Managing Director