Is it just me, or can being a fan of electronic music feel less like a casual hobby and more like a lifestyle choice—a dramatic lifestyle choice akin to looking a parasite capable of completely sapping your wallet and physical energy in the eye and embracing it with abandon. Maybe I just have a penchant for the dramatic, but particularly during festival season, the struggle, as the youths say, can feel very, very real, especially on the financial level.
You could argue that die-hards within any genre can make this claim, and you would be right. Committing yourself to attending live events be they country, rap, rock, or alternative music driven can often mean forking over a significant chunk of change and making the courageous decision to subsist on ramen for a few weeks…or months while your bank account recovers. But unfortunately for fans of electronic music, there are a few factors that seem to impact our ability to enjoy the genre live and in person more than you might expect.
From my own perspective, while living in a virtual swamp (e.g. the entire state of Florida) does have its advantages—quite what those might be I can’t think at the moment, I mean a cicada did fly in my mouth the other week and I’ve pretty much gotten used to flirting with heat stroke on a daily basis but I’ll get back to you on that later—it also means that big name electronic artists rarely visit your neck of the alligator-infested woods. As for independent artists within the genre? Sure Florida has raised a few gems here and there like Hundred Waters that remember their roots and deign to visit cities other than Miami (shakes fist at the sky). But ultimately for myself and all the other EDM lovers scattered throughout the backwoods of the United States going to a concert can feel like a veritable pilgrimage—as in this had better be a near-religious experience given what I’m shelling out to attend.
Another problem for electronic fans is the festival factor. Electronic artists more than musicians in any other genre seem to crowd and clump together in festivals, appearing in massive multi-artist events much more often than they do solo. This, of course, also means that you’re liable to pay twice to three times as much, even if you’re only going to see one out of the twenty billed acts.
In fact, EDM festivals have created an entire constantly migrating community of fans dependent not only on inflated ticket prices for events that often span multiple days, but also on flight, hotel, and meal accommodations that only add to the already overwhelming expense of entrance.
With two huge electronic music festivals coming up in lowly Florida, I took the opportunity to conduct a small (or microscopic really) poll of friends to see roughly how much each had budgeted to attend either Ultra 2017 in Miami or Electric Daisy Carnival in Orlando. Two of my Tampa friends who are making the Lord of the Rings-esque trek down to Miami for the three day event set to take place March 24th to the 27th of 2017 have already spent a whopping $2000 each on hotel, travel, and tickets, which doesn’t take into account other wallet-draining yet oh-so-necessary festival expenses such as food, merch tables, after parties, and, of course, alcohol. Electric Daisy Carnival attendees (at least the poor ones I’m friends with) are a bit more judicious in their spending, likely due to the fact that those I polled live in the Orlando area and consequently don’t need to take accommodations into account. However, one friend sheepishly admitted she will likely drop about $400 to $500 on the event including tickets, Uber rides, merch, food and drink, as well as outfits purchased specifically for the event. In short, EDM is a cruel and demanding mistress, but we love her anyway, even as we weep over the decimated corpses of our checking accounts.