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50 Most Important People in EDM

The movers, shakers and speaker-quakers shaping dance in 2014


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Electronic dance music is already the defining youth culture of the 2010s, but it's slowly taking over all aspects of modern music: Skrillex is on the cover of Rolling Stone, Daft Punk are at the Grammys, Baauer is atop Billboard and Avicii is on Country Music Television. From the people behind the decks to the people behind the scenes, here are the 50 people poised to chart its path going forward.

By Arielle Castillo, Andrea Domanick and Michaelangelo Matos

boiler room

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Thristian Richards and Blaise Bellville, Boiler Room

The Boiler Room, dates back just four years, when Blaise Bellville edited a magazine called Platform and Thristian Richards spun at the hippest warehouse parties in über-hip East London. Bellville invited Richards, who spins under the name bPm, to create a live-streamed mix for the magazine. That project's popularity led to more streams, with Bellville ultimately spinning off the concept into the Boiler Room, a series of mix sessions broadcast from too-cool-for-school, invite-only club nights now spanning the globe. The hallmark of a Boiler Room session is creativity in music selection and technical skill. Both its listeners and guest DJs demand surprises and proper set creation, bringing back DJ sets to the notion of a proper dance floor journey rather than a hit parade.

resident advisor

Courtesy of Resident Advisor


Paul Clement and Nick Sabine, Resident Advisor, Founders

What started as a news site about Australia's dance-music scene has grown to become an exhaustive authority on the global dance industry. Part webzine, part database, and part online community, the site offers up information ranging from news and reviews to event listings to artist profiles to club directories, in addition to accoutrements like ticket sales, films, and podcasts. RA has doubled its traffic in the past three years, averaging more than two million users, and shows no signs of slowing, with Clement and Sabine unveiling a major redesign in January, expanding the site's reach and interactivity. Beyond the web, the RA name has been attached to club nights, festival collaborations, and other events around the world. The site ultimately remains more influential overseas than in the U.S., but as dance music scenes and subgenres like deep house continue to take off with American audiences, RA is poised to become the top media brand for electronic music.

annie mac

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Annie Mac, BBC Radio 1, DJ

Dublin-born DJ Annie MacManus – better known as Annie Mac – helms the power hours of Radio 1's dance-music programming, delivering cutting-edge tracks to a legion of devoted followers around the world on her eponymous Friday-night show (in addition to hosting a number of other specialty programs). Since hitting the air a decade ago, she's extended her influence as both a musical curator and DJ in her own right, dropping sought-after compilations, headlining top clubs and festivals, and building her "Annie Mac Presents" showcases into a global-events brand noted for fresh, diverse lineups (at SXSW 2014, she spotlighted Kelis, electronic producer Tourist, and rapper Le1f). Mac's AMP DJ tour expanded to the U.S. in March, bringing her current slate of faves to clubs across the country.

James Murphy

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James Murphy

In the shadow of EDM's untz-untz domination, former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy still carries the torch for dance-music's disco roots, representing the best of the cerebral, intelligent realm of the genre's styles and production in an era saturated by lowest-common-denominator beats. Murphy, who has consistently spoken out against the commercial side of dance music, is responsible for inspiring a generation of stiff-shouldered indie kids to bust a move, thanks to his rock-inflected beats and droll, incisive songwriting. His work as one half of now-defunct production duo DFA, meanwhile, has produced some of the most distinct yet versatile sounds in the industry. In the wake of LCD and DFA, Murphy remains an influencer behind the scenes, leaving his BPM fingerprints on last year's outputs from Arcade Fire and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and remixing the likes of David Bowie. DFA Records continues to be recognized as a top name in electronic music and dance-punk, helping launch the careers of left-of-the-dial genre heroes like the Rapture and Hot Chip, as well as newcomers like Factory Floor, Sinkane, and Larry Gus.

funktion one

CC Image Courtesy Martin Krolikowski on Flickr


Tony Andrews, Funktion-One, Founder

Funktion-One is the speaker system prized by every dance-music promoter in the world. Founded in 1992, after Tony Andrews, a veteran sound engineer, left his job as developer for Turbosound, It's become the go-to set-up for any venue that wants to advertise how serious it is about quality sound, from Seattle's Q to Brooklyn's Output, not to mention a few F1-outfitted stadiums. Andrews constantly fiddles with his product, aiming to bring it that elusive one step closer to perfection.

steve aoki

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Steve Aoki

Cake throwing or no cake throwing, Aoki has made himself a dance-biz force by sheer virtue of his methodical, workin'-every-angle partying. The Benihana scion's move from spinning hip-hop to fusing it with house music in mid-2000s L.A. clubs propelled a surge of ground-up interest in what eventually became known as EDM. His label, Dim Mak, formed in 1996, was an art-punk label until he started earnestly focusing on dance music in 2008. With a nonstop stream of singles in recent years from a wide range of festival hitters (Datsik, Zedd, Infected Mushroom, Borgore), the imprint's compilations have become consistent bangers at parties and events. With his restaurant and nightclub ambitions plus endorsement deals with Olmec Tequila, Trident Gum, and Scion, he's a tastemaker, for real – even if the flavor often resembles frosting.


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Jason Huvaere and Sam Fotias, Movement

Getting their start throwing raves in mid-Nineties Detroit and then becoming early digital dance-music archivists (their SoundCloud page is a jaw-dropping trove of sets from 2000 forward), Paxahau's Huvaere and Fotias are now gearing up for their eighth year of the Movement Festival. Located in Hart Plaza on Memorial Day weekend, the annual showcase for Detroit techno and its global offshoots is now a serious festival player. (Carol Marvin, who originally founded the event as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, will be reviving DEMF this year to compete with Movement.) What's perhaps most impressive is Movement's global fan base, which has helped push the festival's numbers way up – from 45,000 in 2006 to 100,000-plus each of the last two years. All this with only one stage dedicated to EDM.

decibel festival

Courtesy of Decibel Festival


Sean Horton, Decibel Festival, Founder

A Detroit native who wound up in Seattle the old-fashioned way (his van broke down), Sean Horton's first Decibel Festival in 2004 attracted 2,500 attendees. The tenth edition, held this past September, drew ten times that. This steady climb reflects the city's rapid growth, but it's nowhere near as unnerving: Decibel is still heavy on underground DJs, but Horton has expanded its scope without abandoning his core philosophy. Anyone interested in dance music's next big thing looks closely at his lineups – Horton booked Deadmau5 in 2007 and multiple dubstep showcases in 2009, shortly before both blew up, while still bringing in big headliners (last year included Moby, Zedd, and Lorde)

Dave Rene

Courtesy of Dave Rene


Dave Rene, Interscope, A&R

Interscope's A&R man for dance music has a stacked roster: Nero, Zedd and Eva Simons, not to mention Will.i.am, who's done as much to popularize EDM as anybody. Rene's management style is hands-on; an impressed Nero told an interviewer: "We're one team. We all do everything together, everyone is part of the marketing, everyone is part of the video decisions." Interscope is also behind the Divergent soundtrack, which functions as an EDM primer thanks to tracks by Skrillex, Zedd, and Pretty Lights.


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Who said the kids only loved brostep and confetti house? Starting as bedroom-producing teens, Disclosure's Guy and Howard Lawrence bucked their peers' favored trends and instead dug a decade-and-a-half back into dance-music history for inspiration. Refurbishing U.K. garage – a funky, skipping dance-pop hybrid flavored with R&B – Disclosure concocted a gold debut album and a string of international chart hits. Their version is a craftily melodic blend that is especially adept with live vocal performance, satisfying both festival ragers and dance-pop doubters, bringing soul back to the main stage.


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Afrojack has been behind a passel of hits, from "Pon De Floor," which he co-produced with Major Lazer in 2009, to a fruitful partnership with Pitbull peaking with a featured appearance on "Give Me Everything," No. 1 in 2011. But he's also a fan favorite at the festivals, and his forthcoming Forget the World – his first real album (like many EDM artists, it's been mostly singles, EPs, and remixes) – is a step beyond "I didn't want to make it a festival banger," as he recently told Rolling Stone. Guests include Wiz Khalifa and Sting.

astralwerks Glenn Mendlinger

Courtesy of Astralwerks


Glenn Mendlinger, Astralwerks, General Manager

Mendlinger arrived at Astralwerks just as things were smoking the first time around – in 1998, when he became a project manager for Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers. He rose to general manager in 2007 and began shifting the label's sales emphasis to fit the changing digital market, marketing singles as much as albums and helping drive David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia outside of the live realm. Astralwerks' spate of recent signings (via A&R men Ryan Murphy and Jeremy Vuernick) has been both scene-driven and commercially savvy: Tensnake, Mat Zo, Deadmau5, Porter Robinson, and Duke Dumont join the Chems, Eric Prydz, and Empire of the Sun, not to mention the most formidable dance-music back catalog of any major-label affiliate.

carl cox

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Carl Cox

At 51, Carl Cox has one of dance music's longest CVs. He provided the sound system for Shoom, the London club where acid house took off in 1987; he headlined the early giant outdoor raves, such as Sunrise in 1989, where he rocked crowds with three turntables; and he's been a key figure for more than a decade at Ibiza's famed Space nightclub as resident DJ, promoter, programmer, and host. The ebullient Coxy has long parlayed his live popularity into other realms, from issuing some of the first and most popular DJ mixes (like 1995's F.A.C.T.) to hosting Global Radio, a syndicated two-hour radio show on 40 stations worldwide. Most visibly, he's the proprietor of his own stage – Carl Cox and Friends, with three hours given over to the man himself – at Ultra Music Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Belgium's Tomorrowland.

Kathryn Frazier

Courtesy of Kathryn Frazier


Kathryn Frazier, Biz3 Publicity and OWSLA

The owner of Chicago-based Biz3 Publicity, Frazier has been championing dance music for decades, and has watched it turn into big business from a front-row seat. In a field where flacks wield more power than ever before, Frazier hovers over all, thanks to a high-powered client list topped by Daft Punk (she handled press on Random Access Memories), Bassnectar, Disclosure, and Skrillex – she also co-runs the latter's label OWSLA, a subdivision of Atlantic/Big Beat.


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Critics like to skewer big-name DJs for just pressing play on their "live" shows, but A-Trak is untouchable. A former turntable battle-circuit wunderkind, he parlayed his cutting and scratching skills into a 2004 slot as Kanye West's tour DJ. But in the ensuing decade since, his genre-hopping, crate-digger's sensibility continues to inform both his gigs and the curation of the tastemaking record label he co-founded with Nick Catchdubs, Fool's Gold. Closing the gap between the dance-music and hip-hop worlds, A-Trak's picks maintain a tiny bit retro while still sounding futuristic.

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Vello Virkhaus (V Squared Labs) and Martin Phillips (Bionic League)

It takes more than a mirror ball and some lasers to make a lasting impression on today's EDM crowds, and that's why production pioneers Martin Phillips and Vello Virkhaus play such a vital role. The former, along with collaborator John McGuire, transformed EDM's audiovisual future with Daft Punk's 2006 pyramid show, incorporating narrative, reactive visuals that elevated dance music from a genre into an immersive sensory experience. Phillips' and McGuire's production studio Bionic League continues to create live spectacles today for the likes of Deadmau5, Kaskade and Kanye West. Virkhaus, meanwhile, is the VJ behind every great DJ; his innovations in multimedia content production – from animation to projection mapping to live video mixing – have made his V Squared Labs the studio of choice for Insomniac Events, Ultra Music Festival, Skrillex, Amon Tobin, Krewella, and more.

Richie Hawtin

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Richie Hawtin

Dance music is full of multi-taskers, but few have worn as many hats as well as Richie Hawtin. One of Detroit techno's crucial second wave of talent (albeit from across the Canadian border in Windsor, Ontario), Hawtin has been one of its most artful producers and creative party-throwers for decades – his mid-Nineties events like Heaven & Hell, Spastik, and Jak's Bak are legendary. But he's also one of the dance scene's shrewdest entrepreneurs – investing in online retailer Beatport and early digital-DJ software Final Scratch, bridging the older techno world with the younger EDM generation, throwing a party series called ENTER. in Ibiza this winter. Bro-ing down with Deadmau5 one minute and playing the Guggenheim's rotunda the next, Hawtin is also making time for the first Plastikman album in 11 years, due any day now.

Spinnin Records

Courtesy of Spinnin' Records


Eelko van Kooten and Roger de Graaf, Spinnin’ Records

Whatever its crossover appeal, EDM is driven by what the DJs play. And much of what they play is released by Spinnin' Records. In 1999, Spinnin' pushed its Dutch-house sound (hard and clipped, its beats and riffs a series of clean, cartoonish punches) onto the radio in Holland and then set its sights globally – see Martin Garrix's worldwide No. 1 "Animals." Spinnin' is also a hub for the imprints of artists including Tiësto, Afrojack, Sander van Doorn, Sidney Samson, and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. Now, Spinnin' is the go-to label for Universal's big-name remixes, such as Cedric Gervais' touch-ups of Lana Del Ray and Miley Cyrus.

Red Bull Music Academy

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Many Ameri and Torsten Schmidt, Red Bull Music Academy, Founders

What started as a smart bit of marketing for the ubiquitous nightclub drink has grown to become an education platform and a new means of bankrolling an evolving music business. Launched in 1998, the globetrotting main event features public concerts and lectures with invite-only workshops and recording sessions for a select group of up-and-coming producers, DJs, and musicians in what Ameri and Schmidt tout as a strictly no-strings-attached environment (Flying Lotus, Aloe Blacc, and Tokimonsta are among the notable alumni). Though its scope has widened beyond DJ culture in recent years, the program continues to honor electronic music's roots, with recent lecturers including Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, and Brian Eno. Beyond the annual five-week "term," the RBMA brand has expanded to partnerships with international festivals, an Internet radio station, artist compilations, and a documentary, with RBMA's first ever music festival – focused on New York dance music and culture – kicking off in May. Strings or none, Red Bull's sponsorship model highlights an increasingly unavoidable role of corporate involvement in supporting the music business, proving to be an early leader among youth-centric brands in the now common practice of subsidizing subcultures.


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Need a frisson of alternative edge for your pop star's next single? Head straight to the cool kids' No. 1 tastemaker, Diplo, the rare producer/artist who manages to maintain street cred while regularly visiting the Billboard Hot 100. Chalk it up to his globetrotting, networking, and constant search for undiscovered sounds, dating back to his days of DJing as part of duo Hollertronix. Now, when megawatt stars like Beyoncé or No Doubt are feeling stale, he's where they turn for an intro to U.K. funky, kuduro, dancehall, moombahton, or whatever else the world at large is behind on. And now, with his electronic dancehall-pop act Major Lazer a serious proposition, his label Mad Decent having worldwide success with Baauer's "Harlem Shake," and his high-profile stint as a spokesperson for Blackberry, Diplo is more influential than ever.

Big Beat

Courtesy of Big Beat Records


Liz Miller, Big Beat Records, General Manager

It speaks volumes when one of dance music's great talent scouts – Big Beat Records founder Craig Kallman – brings you in to guide the A&R for a dance-label relaunch. Kallman tapped Miller as general manager when he relaunched Big Beat under Atlantic's auspices. It wasn't the first time that she was on the ground floor of a booming dance-music business: She was part of the start-up team for Beatport, managing its British label interests. These days, Miller oversees day-to-day operations for acts ranging from Chromeo to Martin Solveig and – oh, yes – Skrillex. Figuratively and literally, nothing gets by her.

Nile Rodgers

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Nile Rodgers

The full scope of Nile Rodgers' career is still hard to fathom, and it's not just ongoing, it's in overdrive. He hasn't been this visible since Chic's "Good Times" left the charts in 1979, and he's leveraged that notice smartly, learning a thing or two from Pharrell (not to mention those robots) about branding and marketing himself. That means when he plays guitar on a track, he now gets a featured credit, where he once just got listed in the liner notes. At a time when disco throwbacks are legion, it's good to see the music's greatest practitioner get his.

Ash Pournouri

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Ash Pournouri, At Night Management, founder

"We don't discover artists. We create them." That's mighty tall talk to put on the homepage of a music-management website, but it's fully justified by At Night leader Ash Pournouri's track record. Pournouri is the man behind Swedish dance-pop idol Avicii and dubstep duo Cazzette, and he's implemented a strategy based on networking, marketing, and musical savvy – he works closely with Avicii in the studio, as well as in the boardroom. Pournouri got his prize client an opening slot with Madonna (the two are now collaborating on her next album), launched his single "Wake Me Up" to Number 1 in 22 countries, and transformed Avicii from track-maker to pop star inside seven years.

three six zero group

Courtesy of Three Six Zero Group


Mark Gillespie and Dean Wilson, Three Six Zero Group, Founders

As the gap between EDM and pop narrows, management and production company Three Six Zero is facilitating that cross-pollination. Launched in 2007 by talent booker Mark Gillespie and manager Dean Wilson, the company built on the success of its first artist – a Scottish electro-house dabbler by the name of Calvin Harris – to ink a partnership deal with Roc Nation in 2010. Not long after, Harris teamed with Roc Nation artist Rihanna, and "We Found Love" took over the charts, giving rise to further collaborations, including Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder on "Calling (Losing My Mind)." Today, Three Six Zero counts close to 30 artists on its international roster, including Deadmau5, Nero, R3hab, and Gareth Emery.

Disco Biscuits

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Disco Biscuits

Who says a jam band can't play dance music? Not the revelers who flood upstate New York every year for the annual festival thrown by Philly's Disco Biscuits and the Denver-based events company MCP Presents. A post-hippie gathering is one thing, but Bisco's lineups showcase EDM's heavy hitters – last year included Bassnectar (his fourth straight festival appearance), Zeds Dead, and Flux Pavilion, as well as a tent co-hosted by Boys Noize and OWSLA (Skrillex co-headlined in 2012). Bisco's ticket sales have been capped due to safety concerns – fluctuating in recent years between 13,000 and 20,000 – and difficulties with the upstate New York site of Mariaville caused the festival to take off this year. But expect Bisco to start afresh and go large in 2015.

Gary Richards

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Gary Richards, HARD, Founder

One of Los Angeles' early-Nineties promoter kingpins, Richards went into the record business mid-decade, but came back into the live game for real with HARD Events in 2007, bought by Live Nation in 2012. Richards still runs HARD, and has found a cash cow in Holy Ship!, the – yes – EDM cruise, which is so popular it's going out twice next year.


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Mr. Get the L.E.D. out would have to do something catastrophic to slip too far from headliner status, just on the steam of his catalog. He's typically put his money where his fans are – back into the live shows, which have always been a priority. So the fact that he&apo