The New Stars in Vegas: D.J.’s and Dance Music

The D.J. Calvin Harris performing at the Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas

From The New York Times:

LAS VEGAS — Steve Wynn, the 70-year-old casino magnate, stood before an invitation-only crowd at the opening of a Japanese restaurant here last week, promising good food and even better music.

“Tonight we’re very lucky,” Mr. Wynn said, flashing his trademark grin. “Afrojack is here.”

He started to explain — “for those of you who are not exactly with it, like me, Afrojack is the coolest D.J.”— but it was unnecessary, as a phalanx of models in little black dresses rushed to a corner booth to watch the music man at work. Only the arrival of Paris Hilton drew them away.

After years on the margins, the blaring, pulsating sound of electronic dance music is ascendant, and Las Vegas has embraced the trend the only way it knows how: by going all in. Casino nightclubs that a few years ago were devoted to hip-hop now compete to sign dance acts to million-dollar contracts, and they market these once invisible musicians as superstars. Along the Las Vegas Strip, billboards advertise top D.J.’s like Tiësto and Steve Aoki, alongside David Copperfield and Cirque du Soleil.

“Las Vegas is the new Ibiza,” said Patrick Moxey, the founder of Ultra Records, a leading independent dance label, referring to the hedonistic dance mecca in Spain. Ultra recently started a joint record label with Wynn’s clubs that will make compilation albums and push the music to hotel guests.

Over the weekend the city was also host to the Electric Daisy Carnival, the largest festival of electronic dance music, or E.D.M., in North America. From Friday to Sunday, more than 300,000 fans — recognizable by their butterfly wings and Day-Glo tutus — descended on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see Avicii, Calvin Harris, David Guetta and dozens of other acts.

At the same time, artists and music executives gathered for the related EDMbiz conference here last week, debating whether the city can be a test case for the wider appeal of a genre that in the past has stumbled on its way from subculture to mainstream. They also questioned the long-term commitment of a city known for chasing the winds of pop culture.

“Vegas is a reflection of what’s hot, not the driver of what’s to come,” said Marc Geiger, the head of music at the agency WME.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The New York Times