Dance Gets the X Factor

08/05/2014 22:18 BST | Updated 08/07/2014 10:59 BST

So Simon Cowell is on the hunt for the world's next super star DJ. No surprise there. What modern day impresario wouldn't want a piece of the EDM action? That's Electronic Dance Music for those of you who thought House music was all the rage.

Ten years ago Calvin Harris was working in a bakery in his native Dumfries. He's just landed his sixth number one in the UK charts and last year he became the world's highest paid DJ, grossing $46 million. And Calvin is far from an exception to the new DJ rule. Dutch mega DJ Tiesto can apparently demand $250,000 a night for gigs and performing rodent Deadmau5 grossed $11.5 million last year. Frankly Cowell would be slacking if he didn't want in.

Ultimate DJ developed by Cowell's own Syco Entertainment aims to "take Electronic Music Culture to the world" but it's no coincidence that mission will begin in the USA where dance music has finally found its feet over the last few years. It's the "tranceification" of Vegas that has helped build a market now estimated to be worth $4.5 Billion.

The business of finding DJs through talent contests is nothing new. Radio 1's rising star of dance Danny Howard came through such a competition. And success can, it seems, be "overnight" in EDM. Martin Garrix is just 17, and before this time last year was largely unknown outside of his native Holland. But that was before his single Animals had clocked up 230 million views on YouTube and hit number 1 across the world. Now he's on his way to that Forbes' DJ Rich List and has also landed his own BBC Radio 1 show.

But just as One Direction are no Radiohead we shouldn't expect Cowell's discoveries to be anything other than mainstream moneymakers delivered "fully formed" in to the charts.

There's nothing wrong with that as long as we don't mistake it for anything other than pop, just because it's badged with the dance label. Great dance music, like so many genres, has always emerged from the underground. And great DJs tend to have built their own scenes through endless nights spent refining a sound and a style in front of small audiences. Jackmaster from Glasgow and Brodinski from Paris are two examples of underground players who won't be bothering Cowell's talent bookers but are diligently building a loyal base through musical excellence.

It seems especially pertinent in the month that House music legend Frankie Knuckles died that Simon Cowell moves in to dance. Knuckles honed his art and created a movement in the clubs and warehouses of Chicago which sent ripples across the world. It was Frankie, and colleagues like Larry Levan who breathed life in to the dying embers of disco and won the hearts and ears of a generation of true music lovers. Their careers were driven by a passion for the music and a joy of uniting people through that most basic of rituals - dance. Stadium gigs, personal jets and endorsements weren't in the plan.

If that sounds idealistic and dead as an idea remember that as SYCO audition for the next big thing there are young DJs around the world who are starting out driven purely by a passion to share new music they love.

There's no doubt that millions are to be made from creating the Ultimate Dance Superstar, just don't expect them to have any true musical significance.