UMF Miami: Over The Years

So I’m going to Ultra Music Festival in Miami this year! For those who are less familiar with the electronic music scene, UMF is the world’s premier electronic music festival. It’s been held every March since 1999 making this their 20th anniversary! Crazy to think that a lot of the attendees wouldn’t even have been alive when the festival first began.

The UMF 20 hype made me want to take a look at how the festival has progressed since 1999 so I went into their archives and did some digging! First question I wanted to answer was, “how many DJs/artists have they had in their lineup every year?”

Knowing how much the electronic music scene has been growing, the trend up until 2010 doesn’t surprise me. However after that, it’s either the Ultra team decided quality > quantity or they stopped featuring the smaller name artists on their posters (which is where I got the performer lists from). 2013 was the first and only year where the festival was held over 2 weeks. It was a nice warning shot to Coachella but Miami ultimately decided, “Never. Again.”

This year Ultra has a special surprise closing performance. It’s less than a week away and they’re still yet to give any details about who’s going to take the stage. This informed my next question, “Which DJs have had the most appearances at UMF? Maybe they will be involved somehow with the special closing set.”

Note that I count 2013 as 2 UMFs which is why DJ Icey has 20. Based on my findings, I’m going to call it now: the closing performance is going to be a DJ Icey set! It would make perfect sense – he’s been at every Ultra since the beginning but he happens to have been excluded from the 20th Anniversary lineup??

Most people who are familiar with Ultra won’t be surprised at Tiesto, Carl Cox and some other big names having the most UMF appearances but there are some lesser known (to me anyway) names on there that I wondered about. Guys like Nate Campbell, Johnny Dangerously and Baby Anne have been holding it down consistently over the years without a lot of recognition so maybe the surprise closing set should be a celebration of these artists!

My last question was more of a long shot but I was curious enough to try and answer it: “How has the genre representation at Ultra been over the years? Would it reflect how our tastes have changed over the years?” To answer this I made a Python script that scrapes Last.FM to get the first genre an artist is tagged with. Naturally there were some artists I couldn’t get any information for but I think I got enough to go off of.

The chart below shows the percentage of artists at UMF that year that belonged to the genre. I narrowed it down to House, Drum and Bass, Techno and Trap because it looked like there was more going on there than in the other genres. As you’d expect, House DJs dominate Ultra for the most part. In the early 2000s though, Drum and Bass was just as popular but it saw a drop off. I’m not familiar enough with the D&B scene to tell if that was due to falling demand.

As a Trap Head, I’m excited to see how the genre went from almost no representation to start trending upwards – this year being the most Trap I’ve ever seen in an Ultra lineup! I think it’s also interesting that the chart shows Trap coming to life right around the peak of Dubstep. I believe that a lot of EDM Trap took inspiration from Dubstep so the trend makes sense.

I’m super excited for UMF this year so this exercise was really fun to do! The only sources for all this data were the UMF website and Last.FM. Credit to Paul Ischebeck for the background image on the first chart! I’m happy to share the raw lists or any other information on how I went about this research upon request.

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