DJ Shadow Paves the Way for Live EDM

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DJ Shadow behind the decks, in silhouette
DJ Shadow Shows EDM How to Get Paid

DJ Shadow’s “Live from the Shadowsphere” tour is about to wrap up its month-long stint, and for anyone noticing, the show has offered solutions to problems long thought intrinsic to EDM—namely, how can electronic artists and DJs offer a compelling stage show to motivate fans to plunk down money? And, furthermore, once the fans are at the show, how can the artist generate additional revenue to monetize the tour?

At a recent Shadow show in New York, we saw a great show, but an even better executed example of the future of EDM.

A common complaint among casual fans has centered on EDM’s lack of visual immediacy, a problem stemming from the music’s roots as a means for audience participation and dancing, not as spectacle. Shadow’s solution seems to be monumental progress—if not costly—and next step-ism beyond already visually arresting groups like Underworld or the Chemical Brothers.

The stage set-up itself was a visual feast, using a projection screen and a huge orb-like sphere, which for one segment looked like a pinball, then morphed into a skull, then a basketball or baseball, and then into a product shooting sparks along an assembly line, from which Shadow glitched and manipulated his beats and spit out his compositions.

Then there was the merchandise table, from which a lot of artists, EDM and otherwise, can absorb lessons. Accepting credit cards via Square on iPad, the merch table featured a tiered price approach— from a $10 CD, to a $15 tee, to the $50 hoodie, and finally to $100 bundle, a strategy that catered to the casual and regular fans as well as the devotee. That’s not so unusual, of course, but they also had shopping bags, something you don’t see too often on tours, giving fans a way to carry the merch but also encouraging larger buys.

The tour tee was also available on Shadow’s iPhone app, but not on the DJ Shadow website—nominated for a 2009 Webby Award—which gave it the aura of scarcity and heightened its perceived value.  Posters, sticker/accessory packs (hand-stamped with the Tour name), limited vinyl and CDs were also available.

Online, web traffic to the DJ Shadow site has been increasing, a byproduct of touring, and Shadow’s Tweets have also created a lot of viral @ messaging.

For an in-depth accounting of Shadow’s strategy, check here.