You might have wondered before why there are so many Dutch DJs. Just to name some: Tiesto, Don Diablo, Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Afrojack and Nicky Romero. They are all Dutch. Yes, dance music has been popular for a long time in Europe compared to the North-American, South-American and Asian markets, but still there are way more popular (not necessarily better) Dutch House DJs than neighbouring countries like Germany, England, Belgium and Denmark. Only Sweden has a similar amount of mostly EDM DJs. If you look at the DJ Mag Top 100, if you like this list or not, 29 of the 100 DJs are Dutch.
To find an answer to this question we asked multiple people in the industry during our visit at the Amsterdam Dance Event and got the following answers:
Popularity from early days
It started in the 90´s. Pioneers like Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, DJ Jean got into the scene and inspired young DJs to play. Also the radio stations like Radio 538 had a big influence to play every week the “dance smash of the week”. Because of this, dance music became very popular around the year 2000. Nowadays when you go to the supermarket you will hear dance music while you get your grocery together. Even the Dutch King is listening to it. His favorite style is tropical house and sometimes he was present at many shows, like Armin van Buuren’s show in 2013 for example.
Electronic Music is embraced in the Netherlands. It has had a vibrant club, rave and festival scene for over 20 years. People start to party at a very young age. There are plenty of places where people can practice their DJ skills and of course all these activities are concentrated in a very small piece of land so everyone connects and learns from each other at a much higher pace than when people are divided from each other by a lot of distance.
The festival season starts in April and ends in September with every weekend dozens of festivals. Following a research in 2016 the Netherlands had 836 free and paid festivals (all kind of festivals). Also it is easy to get around in this small country by public transport. Because of this people are more willing to travel for a festival or party. Below for example a map with all the railways in the Netherlands.
According to head A&R of Spinnin Records Jorn Heringa is the mindset of the DJ´s a reason why they are so good. When they have success, they like to party, but not as much as other nationalities. In the Interviews with Lucas & Steve, Sick Individuals and Firebeatz I asked the same question and they gave all the answer that in the Dutch music industry there is a friendly atmosphere where everybody is helping each other, which I also noticed during the Amsterdam Dance Event myself. Even though Dutch people can be normally generalised as sometimes a bit rude, in this industry it is totally the opposite.
The Netherlands is the country with the biggest producing and shipping of the party drug Amphetamine (speed) and MDMA (xtc/molly) in the world and does not have very strict drug laws. For example when you go to festivals there is a policy that the security will pat you down at the entrance for drugs, but when you are inside there are stands where you can test if your drugs are safe or not. They accept the fact that people will use it anyway so it’s better to help them to test the drug’s’ safety than have people suffer bad side effects from drugs that have dangerous adulterants. The drug industry is not a reason why dance music became popular in the Netherlands, but is a reason why it continues to be popular.
Something that Dutch people have in common with Swedish people is that they are good at marketing a product. Gouda Cheese, Heineken, Unilever in the Netherlands. H&M, Ikea, Volvo, Spotify in Sweden. The same with dance music. The Netherlands sees the dance music industry from early days already as a serious business and has some big companies like the festival organisation ID&T or dance label Spinnin’ Records making money out of it. The establishment of these companies in the industry opened doors for the Dutch DJ´s. Mostly in the past these companies favor artists from their own country and therefore they get way better international opportunities than artists from other parts of the world.
According to former Spinnin’ Sessions owner Eelko van Kooten being a good at mixing or producing is not enough to become a big DJ. It is a combination of good music and well organized marketing. Unfortunately because of this, ghost producing is becoming bigger and bigger. Fans like to listen to the music from big artists. To have your track become popular as a young producer, you need to work together with these big artists and sometimes it is not even like that. There are popular DJ’s who bring out tracks made by a ghost producer under their own name and just pay the ghost producer a percentage of the profit. The ghost producer would have never made that money if he would have brought it out under his own name. You can find an interesting article about ghost producing here.
How will the future be? We don’t know. Probably because of these reasons the odds will continue to be in favor of Dutch DJs. There are some good young upcoming talents to mention, like Dante Klein, Dastic, Mesto, Mike Williams, Sophie Francis and Trobi.
Do you want more reasons? Yes, check out the video below: