When it comes to making money out of computery stuff, electro music has to be one of the more exotic and unusual ways of earning a crust. While more conventional and accessible methods are out there, such as getting your side hustle on with a spot of online freelancing, it’s always inspiring to see entrepreneurism at its best in a more artistic domain.
As exhibit A, let’s take a look at three electro artists who achieved huge and lasting success, in the process earning rightful places in the ranks of noted entrepreneurs.
Joel Thomas Zimmerman AKA Deadmau5
Joel Thomas Zimmerman is a Canadian web developer, producer and DJ. As the immediately recognizable Deadmau5, Zimmerman became instrumental in redefining the electronica genre, rendering it in more playful tones, and ultimately bringing together a wide range of electronic music forms.
Deadmau5 is best known for building a popular following around Progressive House (a melodic cocktail of fast, fluid and trancy sounds) and Electrohouse (a deep, bass-heavy variant with lots of trippy distortion).
Setting his unarguable creativity and genre defining originality aside for a moment, what sets him aside as a successful entrepreneur? An important starting point is his recognition. This guy has six Grammy Award nominations under his belt, an unprecedented level of critical recognition for an electronic artist.
Then there’s his prolific album release schedule. Since his first forays into studio album releases, Deadmau5 has released 15 albums, most of which have experienced significant commercial and critical success.
Which brings us to the heart of why this guy isn’t just a regular musician. Deadmau5 is a brand. He has established household recognition; so much so that his trademark mouse helmet is the stuff of pop culture legend.
Describing his own marketing approach, he breaks it down beautifully. The first step, he says, is to make a world. Let your content be an ecosystem of products which reflect who you are. Then he talks about not overdoing the promotion and being as authentic as you can be. As a model for success, Deadmau5 has to earn kudos for having developed an approach to entrepreneurship that’s remarkably laid back and down to earth.
Sonny Moore AKA Skrillex
Sonny Moore has achieved the same enviable vertical integration as Deadmau5, working as both electro DJ and successful producer. Like Deadmau5, this has given him a unique perspective on his content, both as an art form and a marketable commodity.
Skrillex has been nominated for five Grammy awards and has an impressive array of nominations under his belt, including best new artist, best short form music video and best dance recording. He has the same knack as Deadmau5 for producing music which is a genre defining.
The sub genre of Dubstep pretty much owes its existence to Skrillex, alongside the improbably named tropical house. Like Deadmau5, he excels at creating his own unique flavor of musical brand names.
Through an aggressive schedule of tours and album releases, Skrillex elevated his name to a symbol of electro music. He’s estimated to be worth $45 million today — with no slowing down in sight for both his earnings or his cultural relevance.
Jean Michel Jarre
Let’s take it right back to the very early days of electronic music with Jean Michel Jarre. Jarre deserves most of the credit for elevating electro music beyond mere curiosity or movie backdrop to a musical art form in itself.
The French composer and musician found his first taste of commercial success way back in 1976, with his now immediately recognizable album, Oxygene. Since that first breakout success, Jarre has sold over 80 million albums. He still holds the record for the largest outdoor audience of over one million people.
The aspect of Jarre’s background which entitles him to recognition as a great entrepreneur is that before he began his rise to success, electronic music wasn’t really recognized as a musical art form.
Jarre started out earning money as a painter, selling the occasional work through local galleries. From this beginning, Jarre slowly clawed his way into the music scene. Oxygene was initially a very hard sell for music labels. It was too different. He was turned down by a succession of production companies, until managing to wrangle a meager first pressing of 50,000 copies.
Starting from zero recognition, Jarre built an entire branch of music around him, becoming a household name in the process. He paved the way for commercial music success which many musicians (Deadmau5 and Skrillex) emulated with great success.
Seeing anyone at the top of their entrepreneurial game is interesting and inspiring for those of us with a money-minded perspective on things. But there’s something particularly awe-inspiring about lasting wealth achieved in the dynamic and ever-changing world of electro music. Deadmau5, Skrillex and Jean Michel Jarre have that rare distinction of achieving a double whammy of commercial and critical success in electro music.