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How electronic music industry takes festivals global

By Antonia Mortensen, CNN
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Fri August 9, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • French DJ Guetta says electro music has a long way to go before it's as successful as Hip Hop, an urban genre
  • In July, 180,000 music fans massed on the small Belgian town of 'Boom' for the Tomorrowland festival
  • Tomorrowland already has 4 million social media followers and over 80 million people watched the after-movie

(CNN) -- From Brazil to Malaysia, Thailand to Canada, electronic music festivals are springing up worldwide as record labels and promoters push for a dance revolution with a new beat.

Major players in electronic music -- an industry worth an estimated $4.5 billion -- are shipping festival brands to emerging markets in Asia and South America in an effort to increase the music genre's following.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with CNN, superstar DJ David Guetta said: "We are keeping that scene alive and always exciting."

The french music producer -- who has 45 million Facebook fans -- added: "I think it's going to grow even bigger because if I look at the history of Hip Hop ... they are 2 musical genres that you can compare because they both came from the underground then became trendy."

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But he admitted that electronic music has a long way to go before it's as successful as Hip Hop, an urban street genre.

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Festivals such as Tomorrowland and Sensation White -- a leading dance event which will visit 22 cities worldwide in 2013 -- are rolling out to new markets to give audiences the chance to listen to electronic music.

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Carl Cox: Tomorrowland is beyond belief

In July, 180,000 music fans massed on the small Belgian town of 'Boom' for Tomorrowland -- one of world's largest music festivals -- as gig enthusiasts from 214 countries flew in for a 3-day bonanza of electronic dance music.

Festival organizers ID&T even teamed up with Brussels Airlines to arrange 140 flights from every continent to Belgium.

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At 30,000 feet, fans were treated to an in-flight DJ, allowing them to party to their favourite electro beats in transit.

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This unique approach is all part of ID&T's strategy to take electronic music global. After eight successful years, the entertainment company is planning to host its first Tomorrowland festival outside Belgium in Chattahoochee Hills in Atlanta.

Steve Aoki: Dance music unites people

Speaking at the International Music Summit (IMS) in Ibiza in May, ID&T boss Duncan Stutterheim said electronic music has "no language barriers," adding that the company is going to "enjoy a nice ride" in the next 10 years.

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"We are talking finally to India, to Japan, to China, to Malaysia. We did a tour in Thailand... They all want to do the festivals so we are in a luxury position," Stutterheim said in his speech.

Hardwell: 'Everything happens online'

Tomorrowland already has 4 million social media followers and over 80 million people watched the after-movie of the concert online.

According to a report by industry consultant Kevin Watson, who produced the IMS Business Report, over half the electronic dance industry's value, approximately $2.5 billion, comes from live clubs and festivals.

Speaking in Ibiza, he said: "We've got recorded music, we think that's worth $1.25 billion and we've got a couple of other things, sales of hardware and software, brand sponsorship and everything else linked to Dance is getting ridiculously popular. So we think that's worth at least another three quarters of a billion."

Marc Geiger, head of music at William Morris Endeavor, one of the first agencies to start a dedicated electronic division about six years ago, believes industry growth is providing firms with new resources.

But he warns: ''It's big money now and with big money comes a bigger responsibility of growing up."

CNN's Oliver Joy contributed to this report.

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