Today I am bringing you a prediction about the future of Anjunabeats. The hard part will be sorting out whether I am right or not, because being accurate will look a lot like business as usual.
My prediction is that Anjunabeats will have a noticeably more big room sound by the end of the year, and a large fan base to go with it. I’ll talk about how you can tell whether I am right or not later on in the post. At the moment I need to introduce you to some science.
As I wrote in the past, your musical taste is formed out of your brain’s associations with pleasant feelings. The specifics are different for everyone. Some people like death metal while others like synthpop. Subjectively, my belief is that anyone can learn to like any genre in the right environment.
Most people know from intuition that some music is more “entry level” than other music. Pop music thrives off of this. And the pentatonic scale appears to be hardwired into our biology. It appears frequently in distant cultures.
Marketing plays a role too. Fourteen years later, I can still flush my face with blood by thinking about the first album I ever bought. If you asked me why at the time, I would have told you her songs sounded good, but the real reason is probably closer to “she looks good.” (I was 13 in 2003. That’s all I’ll say.)
The work of Daniel Levitin shows that our brains literally wire neurons together when we listen to a genre of music. Repetition helps. Over time, that turns into taste. If a new genre is similar to a genre you liked in the past, the chances of you liking it are higher. You also grow tired of hearing similar sounds over and over again, and start to crave novelty. When you experience novelty, you get a hit of dopamine. This seems obvious because it is.
Now let me show you where Anjunabeats is about to pick up a large, large fan base. These fans were recently abandoned by the EDM Trend Machine and have no distinct place to turn to. Or they didn’t until recently.
Big room house was hugely popular for like three years. It was the music of the main stage, and the second stage too if the festival was big enough. (Please excuse me if my history is a bit off here.) You couldn’t go anywhere at a major festival without hearing it.
If you liked big room, that was great. You wanted to hear new big room and you got it. The vibrations were translated into signals in your brain, over and over, and you felt good. Note they must have been similar signals, or your brain’s architecture couldn’t have identified it as the same genre. That means they used the same pathways, and they got a good workout.
Then big room grew stale and was displaced by new genres. EDM evolved and now a bunch of other genres compete for the same space on the mainstage. Tastes have grown with it, and now those big room fans, tired of the old big room sound, are into different music. Even if a big room fan still likes that sound, the novelty is gone.
Here I pause to remind you what they say about riding a bike.
You’ve probably noticed Anjunabeats adding different sounds to their label over the past several years. If you asked them, they would probably tell you it’s just their own tastes changing from years of hearing big room at festivals. And I would believe them, too. But just for fun, let’s see if we can predict the future using the same filter that shows me how your musical taste works.
There are legions of big room fans out there who will get a huge hit of feel good chemicals by something that sounds like big room but isn’t. A route in brain’s wiring sparks with new connections for the first time in ages, and suddenly you like a new genre without really understanding why. So when those big room fans hear Anjunabeats artists playing music that sounds like big room but isn’t, their ears will perk up and their bodies will be drawn towards the vibrations.
Note that I purposely avoided mentioning intent. It doesn’t matter whether Anjunabeats is pivoting intentionally or not. You could reason that they are doing it because their tastes were changed through exposure to big room — the same reasoning I show here. This is just an exercise and the answer doesn’t matter (it could even be none or both). Doesn’t matter. Onward.
I wrote in the opening paragraph that the hard part will be measuring my prediction for accuracy. So it makes sense to write ahead of time how you can tell if I was right or not. That way you can come back to tell me if I divined correctly or not.
My prediction has a timer on it for the end of the year. But you can already start to measure the trend for yourself. All I’m doing is extrapolating (from measurements I didn’t make yet. This would be no fun if I already had the data). It isn’t science, but how could you gauge whether I predicted correctly?
When you run into a new Anjunabeats fan, ask them what genres they liked before coming over to Anjuna. Don’t ask if they liked big room, because then you are feeding them the answer. Just wait and see what genres they list off the top of their head — their favorites will come first. Three seems like a reasonable number. To confirm they are a recent fan, ask how long they’ve been into Anjunabeats. If they say anything involving “months”, that’s a confirmation. (Again, this is not science).
I bet the Anjuna sound is already close enough to big room for the fans to be trickling in. But it’s nothing close to what it’ll be like during this festival season, when we all want those hits of dopamine. With festival vibes in full swing, these big room fans will be starved for hits of feel-good novelty chemical. By the end of summer, you’ll be able to wander through the crowds during an Anjunabeats DJ’s set and repeat that question, over and over, getting “big room” each time.
As an experiment, I invite you to bring a big room fan to the next Anjunabeats show in your city. Don’t say anything to give away the experiment. Just bring your friend along and say, “I have a feeling you’ll like this.” You can tell them you don’t know why if they ask. But if they say explicitly, “this reminds me of big room,” you’ll know they just became a fan.