​Is the EDM Scene in China about to Pop Off?

The new frontier of dance music and more from Shanghai's first ever edition of the International Music Summit.

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Oct 12 2015, 7:34pm

The International Music Summit, a globe-trotting, dance-centric music industry symposium with events in Ibiza, Los Angeles, and Singapore, held its inaugural Shanghai edition early this October. Dubbed "Awakening the Dragon" and centered around the current state of EDM in China, the summit featured Paul Oakenfold and Beatport President Greg Consiglio amongst China-based dance luminaries in their speakers series.

"EDM as a music genre really gets people to have fun together," said Eric Zho, founder of the Budweiser-partnered STORM Festival, China's 35,000-capacity flagship fest that rocketed up in relevance thanks to sets by EDM-mainstays like Avicii and Yellow Claw at the brand's Shanghai-based festival, held last month. "EDM is a party," Zho goes on. "It's not just listening to your favorite artist's track by track, like many other shows are."

Commercial dance events have been fast proliferating in China. Over the past year, everyone from Steve Aoki to 2ManyDJs have stopped over into Hong Kong's gambling capital Macau, David Guetta has played atop the Great Wall of China, Tiësto released a track with Chinese starlet Jane Zhang, and Shanghai's STORM garnered international attention with its second Western-style, bombastic spectacle in October, with the brand's first-ever Shenzen edition will launch in November.

All this high falutin' aside, statistics from IMS Business Report 2015: China Edition show the current state of Chinese dance music to be banking on potential while enjoying a modest growth in actuality. The major indicators publicized in the report were an increase in event capacity, a 6% increase in dance music sales, and multiple re-assertions that China's population is so massive that things will just grow of their own accord.

Zho was bullish about the Chinese dance market: "EDM is the sound of the future...We believe that this scene is set to grow significantly over the years as the popularity of STORM brand grows."

Going further, Zho refuted the claim that the Chinese government's "hands-on" social and political practices inhibit dance music culture. "The current political climate, rather than inhibiting dance culture in China, encourages it," he told THUMP. "Cultural projects are being massively supported by the PRC government with the current Administration, and I expect to see many more EDM festivals popping up across China everywhere."

Although we're yet to see PRC President Xi Jingping breaking out the LED rave gloves, STORM's five year plan is ambitious as it addresses challenges from competing festival brands like YinYang and Modern Sky. "STORM will become the largest vertical electronic music platform in China," says Zho. "In five years, I see STORM will be in 20+ cities, as well as 1000s of underground and club events."

IMS' Shenzhen Edition is all set for November 21-22. Read IMS report on China here.