As brands struggle to reach millennials, they're turning to a once-underground genre of music that is managing to capture a large, social media-savvy audience: electronic dance music, or EDM.
A study recently published by Google shows that EDM channel subscribers on YouTube increased 60 percent on smartphones, 77 percent on TVs and 175 percent on gaming devices in 2014. While the majority of the audience is under 25, the fastest growing segment of listeners on the video platform are between the ages of 25 and 34. Interest among 35- to 49-year-olds also grew 80 percent from January to July 2014.
And according to data from Eventbrite and Nielsen, EDM is a $6 billion industry, with festivals making up $4.2 billion of the pie. The fans are incredibly active on social media: An EDM fan tweets 11 times a day compared to an average user, who sends out 1.85 tweets daily. One-third of posts on Facebook from EDM fans are about music.
"EDM is the fastest-growing music genre and the most social musical genre," said Geoff Schiller, CRO of Evolve Media.
Evolve Media's lifestyle publisher for men, CraveOnline, recently partnered with EDM.com, where fans of the genre can stream club-inspired music. Now, CraveOnline can access the music portal's assets, including its editorial content, SoundCloud exclusives and offline marketing. CraveOnline can cross-post the materials on its sites, and it will also co-sponsor events, creating opportunities for advertisers who may be interested in its network.
The deal made sense considering that even without EDM.com, electronic dance music content already makes up 15 percent of CraveOnline's total page views. EDM.com on its own has grown 300 percent year over year to reach 2.5 million unique monthly visitors.
Schiller admits it wasn't always easy to get brands to advertise on EDM content. The music, often made with DJs and other music acts, lends itself to dance parties and clubs. Negative headlines tied to deaths at festivals and the link between members of the scene and illicit drug use previously made it taboo for advertisers. However, marketers like Jeep, Ford, Red Bull and Trident have in the recent past bought advertising with EDM.com, and Schiller said brands are extremely interested in connecting with the music's fans going forward.
CraveOnline hopes to leverage the first-to-market music on SoundCloud to help connect brands and up-and-coming talent for custom integrations. For example, its first collaboration with EDM.com on SoundCloud—an exclusive track from KDrew—has been played more than 496,000 times and reposted more than 5,250 times.
"There was some hesitancy with advertisers in the past, but with education they are much more excited in general now," Schiller explained.
Here's a helpful primer on the trend: