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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

Nile Rodgers

Rob Ball/WireImage

29

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

Steve Granitz/WireImage

28

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

27

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

Dario Cantatore/Getty Images

26

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

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

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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

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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 qui