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50 Most Important People in EDM

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

skrillex

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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

Gary Richards

Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

25

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.

deadmau5

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

24

Deadmau5

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's readying a double CD, his first for Astralwerks, is especially intriguing: Maybe he'll even give it an actual title this time? (He hasn't come up with one yet – cover art, either.) Until then, expect a creative rollout, not to mention bigger shows than ever.

Paul Tollett

Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

23

Paul Tollett, Goldenvoice, President

"It was good for [Los Angeles-based company] Goldenvoice when the Lollapalooza tour was around because we promoted it," Tollett said in 2007. "But when it went away, there was no big festival for us to promote." So, in 1997, after visiting Glastonbury, Tollett decided to create his own. Two years later, Coachella was born – not just becoming the premiere American destination festival and the most closely watched showcase of the year, but the most dance-friendly. The dance tent, of course, is where Daft Punk premiered their glowing pyramid in 2006, symbolically ushering in the EDM era; this year, the top-lined acts include Zedd, the Knife, Disclosure, Skrillex, and Chromeo.

Alexander Ljung

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

22

Alexander Ljung, SoundCloud, Founder/CEO

Sound designer Alexander Ljung and artist Eric Wahlforss, Swedes in Berlin, wanted to make something like a Flickr for the electronic-dance musicians they loved. Prior to launching SoundCloud in 2007, they handed out free accounts to several influential DJs and producers in hopes that they'd upload tracks and mixes – and that number has continued to balloon ever since. So has SoundCloud, under Ljung's direction – the company now employs more than 100 people and is the go-to for every record label and artist, in every conceivable style, to showcase their goods. More to the point, it's impossible to imagine EDM's rise without the instant streaming (and easy downloading) that the platform made possible. With one cleverly designed page, SoundCloud made collecting DJ sets, once a minority pursuit, into something anyone could do.

maria may

Courtesy of CAA

21

Maria May, Creative Artists Agency, Senior Agent

Maria May's roots in dance and electronic music run deep, with nearly 20 years under her belt representing DJs and producers including David Guetta, Paul Oakenfold, and 2manydjs, as well as less flashy, more quirky artists like Hercules & Love Affair and Róisín Murphy. It's little surprise, then, that May was tapped by CAA in 2012 to lead the high-powered Hollywood talent titan's expansion into dance music. The veteran agent currently sits on th