From Skrillex to Avicii to David Guetta, today's celebrity DJs are among contemporary music's most notable names, and their presence in pop culture often extends far beyond that small space behind the turntables.
Consider Gareth Emery: Propelled by the exploding popularity of electronic dance music (EDM), he ranks among the elite of today's festival-hopping DJs, who now find themselves earning millions of dollars across a variety of business enterprises.
The 35-year-old Emery is no exception: his activities aren't limited to live performances but also extend to a dance-music podcast series, a weekly satellite radio show, his own record label, and a line of apparel and other merchandise, most of which features the name of a brand he launched late last year: Electric for Life.
That brand is such a big part of his career that he has assembled most of his activities (except, so far, his record label) under that name, and has created a website to match: Electricfor.life.
“The idea was to create more of a lifestyle brand than we had,” he says. “We wanted to give it a name that would make it more interesting to get involved in, and we wanted our website name to match.”
The domain name he had been using, the all-too-predictable garethemery.com, “was never a name youwould have seen somebody putting on a t-shirt, or a tattooing on their arm. It was not very inspiring.”
Music has served as Emery’s inspiration since he started studying classical piano at the age of four. From the start of his career, which has also included a stint as guitarist in a punk band, he estimates that he’s written, produced, and remixed over 150 tracks. He’s also released a handful of mix CDs.
While today's new breed of DJs rose to prominence by creating ingenious remixes and pioneering the use of sampling, the rules of the game are changing, and Emery is keeping pace. “Mostly these days I am steering away from the remixes and focusing on my own originals,” he says. "The new generation of DJs have to be writing music because that’s how people know who you are,” says Emery. “Anywhere I go in the world, writing and producing your own music is the only way to make yourself known as a DJ. You need to be a one-man music-creation machine.”
Among the places Emery will tour this year is Las Vegas, a city he has performed in since 2005. “Back then there were not many DJs in Las Vegas because it wasn’t a young person’s place,” he says. “But the hotels and casinos have revitalized themselves. They’re no longer living off the ghosts of Elvis and the Rat Pack.”
Emery's Electricfor.life website is, in many ways, a reflection of a similar trend: a fresh take on branding that leaves the ghost of the conventional "dot-com" naming convention behind.
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