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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | Last updated: 7:25pm

Crowdsourcing in EDM: cop out or the next big thing?



Musicians are to be admired for the way they approach their craft. Whether they inject brutal honesty (Fiona Apple), brash exuberance (Ke$ha), pop icon promises (Katy Perry) or true-to-form talent (Frank Ocean) into their work, we’re hooked on what it is in their music that allows us to relate to it.

But how often do we look at the methods by which they arrived at that pinnacle? Do we care about their gear, their vocal technique or the legendary soundboard their single was mixed on?

Unless you’re a bona fide music nerd, you couldn’t care less about the intricacies that take a hit song from the studio to your earbuds. But what if you had the chance to contribute to that track?

With house icon Avicii’s new incentive-based production program, “Avicii x You,” fans have a shot at being part of the Swedish DJ’s newest track. In return for fan-created submissions, such as basslines, samples, loops and drops, the DJ is offering production credits and licensed merchandise.

It’s a far cry from the controversy surrounding punk cabaret darling Amanda Palmer, who attempted to initiate a similar fan-generated backup band to accompany her live show as she traveled from city to city.

Instead of offering anything of substance as payment, on her blog, Palmer promised volunteer musicians, “we will feed you beer, hug/high-five you up and down (pick your poison) give you merch, and thank you mightily for adding to the big noise we are planning to make.”

Are crowdsourcing stage musicians any worse than those who ask for free samples in electronic dance music (EDM)? It raises the question of the legitimacy of what the public views as “real” musicianship, such as music played with traditional instruments versus EDM.

Brian Mistler, a business management senior and DJ, feels that there is no difference in volunteering between the two genres; if anything, Avicii’s program could help further the EDM genre while genuinely rewarding its contributors.

“A lot of dance music does follow the same progression to an extent, so hopefully this will allow for a new sound or genre, like trap,” Mistler said.

As Avicii is known for his “silky-smooth production,” as Mistler put it, his signature will still be evident on the tracks that come out of the Avicii x You project.

Any evolution of a genre is a welcome change, even in EDM, which has seen the rise of multiple subgenres, like dubstep in a relatively short amount of time. It’s refreshing to see an artist acting as producer while helping newcomers get a foot in the door.

Crowdsourcing music may be the next step in fan connectivity, but we’ve yet to see if the quality of the work matches the quality of the reward.


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