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Electronic dance music

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Title: Electronic dance music  
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Electronic dance music

Electronic dance music (also known as EDM, dance music,[1] club music,[2] or simply dance) is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres produced primarily for dance-based entertainment environments such as nightclubs, raves, and festivals. The music is largely produced for playback by disc jockeys (DJs) and is generally used in the context of a live DJ mixes where the DJ creates a seamless selection of tracks by segueing from one recording to the next.[3]

In 2010, the acronym "EDM" was adopted by the American music industry and music press as a buzzword to describe the increasingly commercial US electronic dance music scene.[4][5]


  • History 1
    • Birth of club music 1.1
    • Acid house and Rave 1.2
    • North American commercialization of EDM 1.3
      • Criticism of commercial EDM 1.3.1
      • Corporate investment in EDM 1.3.2
  • Terminology 2
  • Genres 3
  • Production 4
  • Festivals 5
  • Industry Awards 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9


Notable examples include the 1977 collaboration between producer Donna Summer on the song "I Feel Love", a groundbreaking dance/discothèque hit with no traditional instruments.[6]

Birth of club music

Acid house and Rave

Roland TB-303: The bass line synthesizer that was used prominently in acid house.

By 1988, house music had exploded in the UK and Germany with

  • Hewitt, Michael. Music Theory for Computer Musicians. 1st Ed. U.S. Cengage Learning, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59863-503-4
  • Electronic dance music glossary by Moby for USA Today published December 13, 2011

Further reading

  1. ^ Koskoff, E. (2004). Music Cultures in the United States: An Introduction, Routledge, p44.
  2. ^ ibid.
  3. ^ Butler, M.J., Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music, Indiana University Press, 2006, pp. 12–13, 94. ISBN 9780253346629
  4. ^ RA Roundtable: EDM in AmericaResident Advisor,. 'RA Roundtable: EDM In America'. N. p., 2012. Web. 18 May. 2014.
  5. ^ 'The FACT Dictionary: How ‘Dubstep’, ‘Juke’, ‘Cloud Rap’ And Many More Got Their Names'. N. p., 2013. Web. 18 May. 2014.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Rietveld 1998:40–50
  8. ^ Fikentscher (2000:5), in discussing the definition of underground dance music as it relates to post-disco music in America, states that: "The prefix 'underground' does not merely serve to explain that the associated type of music - and its cultural context - are familiar only to a small number of informed persons. Underground also points to the sociological function of the music, framing it as one type of music that in order to have meaning and continuity is kept away, to large degree, from mainstream society, mass media, and those empowered to enforce prevalent moral and aesthetic codes and values." Fikentscher, K. (2000), You Better Work!: Underground Dance Music in New York, Wesleyan University Press, Hanover, NH.
  9. ^ Rietveld 1998:54–59
  10. ^ Brewster 2006:398–443
  11. ^ Brewster 2006:419
  12. ^ Cosgrove 1988a. Although it can now be heard in Detroit's leading clubs, the local area has shown a marked reluctance to get behind the music. It has been in clubs like the Powerplant (Chicago), The World (New York), The Hacienda (Manchester), Rock City (Nottingham) and Downbeat (Leeds) where the techno sound has found most support. Ironically, the only Detroit club which really championed the sound was a peripatetic party night called Visage, which unromantically shared its name with one of Britain's oldest new romantic groups.
  13. ^ Sisario, Ben (2012-04-04). "Electronic Dance Concerts Turn Up Volume, Tempting Investors". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-17. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Sherburne, Philip. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, Spin Magazine, pages 41-53, October 2011, Spin Media LLC.
  15. ^ Chaplin, Julia & Michel, Sia. Fire Starters, Spin Magazine, page 40, March 1997, Spin Media LLC.
  16. ^ "DJ David Guetta leads the EDM charge into mainstream". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  17. ^ a b c "The Dumbing Down of Electronic Dance Music". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "How rave music conquered America". Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "New Dance/Electronic Songs Chart Launches With & Britney at No. 1". Billboard. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "Just How Big is EDM?". Music Trades Magazine. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  21. ^ "The Year EDM Sold Out: Swedish House Mafia, Skrillex and Deadmau5 Hit the Mainstream". Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Booming business: EDM goes mainstream". Miami Herald. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "Is EDM killing the art of DJing?". Mixmag. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  24. ^ "EDM Will Eat Itself: Big Room stars are getting bored". Mixmag. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Deadmau5 Trolls Martin Garrix with ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’ Remix of ‘Animals’ at Ultra". Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  26. ^ """Deadmau5 gives reason for techno track: "EDM sounds the same to me. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  27. ^ "Deadmau5: The Man Who Trolled the World". mixmag. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  28. ^ """Afrojack and Deadmau5 argue over what's "good music. Mixmag. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "SNL Digital Shorts return with 'Davvincii' to skewer EDM and overpaid DJs". The Verge. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  30. ^ "Watch Saturday Night Live Mock Big Room DJ Culture". Mixmag. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  31. ^ "SNL takes stab at EDM culture in new digital short featuring ‘Davvincii’". Dancing Astronaut. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  32. ^ "Exclusive: SFX Acquires ID&T, Voodoo Experience". Billboard. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  33. ^ "SFX Purchases 75% Stake in ID&T, Announce U.S. Edition of Tomorrowland at Ultra". Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  34. ^ "'"Live Nation Teams With Insomniac Events in ‘Creative Partnership. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  35. ^ "Live Nation Acquires L.A. EDM Promoter HARD: Will the Mainstream Get More Ravey?". Spin. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  36. ^ "Live Nation Buys EDM Entertainment Company Cream Holdings Ltd, Owner of Creamfields Festivals". Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  37. ^ "Electronic Dance Concerts Turn Up Volume, Tempting Investors". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  38. ^ Sisario, Ben (December 20, 2012). "Boston Radio Station Switches to Electronic Dance Format".  
  39. ^ "SFX and Clear Channel Partner for Digital, Terrestrial Radio Push". Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  40. ^ "'"John Sykes, Robert Sillerman on New Clear Channel, SFX Partnership: 'We Want to Be the Best. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  41. ^ a b Bogart, Jonathan (10 July 2014). "Buy the Hype: Why Electronic Dance Music Really Could Be the New Rock". The Atlantic. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  42. ^ a b c Flick, Larry (Aug 12, 1995). "Gonzales Prepares More Batches of Bucketheads". Billboard: 24. Josh Wink, Moby, and the Future Sound Of London were among the fortunate folks honored at the first Electronic Dance Music Awards, which were presented July 27 in New York. Produced by Nervous Records and Project X magazine, the evening saw trophies doled out to some of the club community's more cerebral and experimental producers, DJs, musicians and record labels. Winners were tallied from ballots from Project X readers. 
  43. ^ Prince, David (1995). "Rhythm Nation". Rolling Stone (705): 33. 
  44. ^ ""After 20 years, electronic dance music has made it big in the US" url=". 
  45. ^ ""Definition" url=". 
  46. ^ McLeod, Kembrew (2001). "Genres, Subgenres, Sub-Subgenres and more: Musical and Social Difference Within Electronic/Dance Music Communities" (PDF). Journal of Popular Music Studies 13: 59–75.  
  47. ^ Brief History of Electronic Music
  48. ^ a b Terry Church (10 April 2014). "Funktion-One’s Tony Andrews on Setting Up Soundsystems – From Wembley Stadium to Your Bedroom". DJTechTools. DJTechTools. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  49. ^ a b N.J. basks in the glow of the brave new rave: Electronic dance festivals go mainstream Newark Star Ledger May 16, 2012
  50. ^ Maloy, Sarah. "Lollapalooza's Perry Farrell on EDM and Elevating the Aftershow: Video". Billboard. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  51. ^ Mason, K. (2013, Sep 28). EDM's social explosion. Billboard - the International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment, 125, 9. Retrieved from
  52. ^ "Hardwell Wins DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs Poll". Billboard. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  53. ^ 
  54. ^ Unknown (November 18, 2012). "American Music Awards 2012: A big night for Justin Bieber". CBS News. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 


See also

Organization Award Years Notes
BRIT Awards British Dance Act 1994–2004 The BRIT awards in the UK introduced a "British Dance Act" category in 1994, first won by M People. Although dance acts had featured in the awards in previous years, this was the first year dance music was given its own category. More recently the award was removed as was 'Urban' and 'Rock' and other genres as the awards removed Genre based awards and moved to more generalised, artist focused, awards.
Grammy Award Best Dance Recording 1998–present Most recently won (2014) by "Clarity", Zedd
Grammy Award Best Dance/Electronica Album 2005–present Most recently won (2014) by Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll 1997–present The British dance music magazine DJ Mag publishes a yearly listing of the top 100 DJs in the world; in 2013, Dutch producer Hardwell unseated Armin van Buuren as the #1 DJ on the chart.[52]
Winter Music Conference (WMC) IDMA: International Dance Music Awards 1998–Present [53]
Project X Magazine Electronic Dance Music Awards 1995 Readers of Project X magazine voted for the winners of the first (and only) "Electronic Dance Music Awards".[42] In a ceremony organized by the magazine and Nervous Records, award statues were given to Winx, The Future Sound of London, Moby, Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia, DJ Keoki, TRIBAL America Records and Moonshine Records.[42]
American Music Awards Favorite Electronic Dance Music 2012–present [54]

Industry Awards

Tomorrowland, a popular EDM music festival in Belgium has amassed millions of followers through YouTube and other social media. Tomorrowland broadcast the show live over YouTube and over 16.8 million viewers tuned in. The 20 minute recap video of Tomorrowland in 2012 amassed over 90 million views on YouTube, a testament to the growing popularity of electronic dance music.[51]

Electric Zoo Festival 2011 at the Hilltop Arena

[49].branding magazine, noted that festival promoters have done an excellent job at Billboard Ray Waddell, touring editor at [50] Other festivals, including


Andrew also warns that too much bass, as well as too much sound overall, can be harmful and a "good sound engineer will understand that there is a window between enough sound to give excitement and so much that it is damaging."[48]

Dance music wouldn’t be so successful without bass. If you think about it, we’ve really only had amplified bass for around 50 years. Big bass is only a couple of generations old. Before the invention of speakers that could project true bass frequencies, humans really only came across bass in hazardous situations—for example, when thunder struck, or an earthquake shook, or from explosions caused by dynamite or gunpowder. That is probably why it is by far the most adrenaline-inducing frequency that we have. Bass gets humans excited basically. Below 90 or 100 Hz, bass becomes more of a physical thing. It vibrates specific organs. It vibrates our bones. It causes minor molecular rearrangement, and that is what makes it so potent as a force in dance music. The molecular vibration caused by bass is what gives dance music its power. It is what makes dance music so pleasurable to hear through a proper sound system.[48]

In an April 2014 interview with Tony Andrew, the owner and founder of the Funktion-One sound system—considered a foremost model of audio technology and installed in venues such as Berghain, Output and Trouw—Andrew explains the critical importance of bass to dance music:

Typical tools for EDM production: computer, MIDI keyboard and mixer/sound recorder.


Just as rock, jazz and other musical genres have their own set of sub-genres, so does electronic dance music. Continuing to evolve over the past 30 years dance music has splintered off into numerous sub-genres often defined by their varying tempo (BPM), rhythm, instrumentation used and time period.[47] The broadest categories include house, techno, trance, hardstyle, UK garage, drum & bass, dubstep, progressive, electro and hardcore.


What is widely considered to be "club music" changes over time includes different genres depending on the region and who's making the reference, and may not always encompass electronic dance music. Similarly, electronic dance music sometimes means different things to different people. Both terms vaguely encompass multiple genres, and sometimes are used as if they were genres themselves. The distinction is that club music is ultimately based on what's popular, whereas electronic dance music is based on attributes of the music itself.[46]

Writing for The Guardian, journalist Simon Reynolds noted that music industry adoption of the term "EDM" was part of a drive to re-brand "rave culture" in the United States; an attempt to "draw line between today's EDM and 90s rave".[44] While "EDM" has become the common blanket term for dance music genres in the USA, in many parts of Europe and online, in the UK the usage of "dance music" or "dance" is more commonly used.[45]

The term "electronic dance music" was used in America as early as 1985,[41] although the term "dance music" didn't catch on as a blanket term for the genre(s) until the second half of the 1990s, when it was embraced by the American music industry with their "Dance" charts (which continue to this day), as well as the consistent use of the term "dance music" in reference to artists in reviews.[41] In July 1995 Nervous Records and Project X magazine held their first award ceremony titled "Electronic Dance Music Awards." [42][43]


U.S. radio conglomerate iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Media and Entertainment) has also made efforts to align itself into the EDM industry; the company hired noted British DJ and BBC Radio 1 personality Pete Tong to produce programming for its "Evolution" dance radio brand,[38] and announced a partnership with SFX Entertainment in January 2014 to co-produce live concert events and EDM-oriented original programming, such as a Beatport countdown show, for its top 40 radio stations. iHeartMedia president John Sykes explained that he wanted his company's properties to be the "best destination [for EDM]", and felt that its planned Beatport top 20 show would provide increased mainstream, North American exposure to up and coming producers.[39][40]

Advertisers have also increasingly associated themselves with the EDM industry; for example, alcoholic beverage companies such as Heineken and Anheuser-Busch have maintained marketing relationships with the Ultra Music Festival and SFX, respectively. Heineken also incorporated Dutch producers, such as Armin van Buuren and Tiesto, into their marketing campaigns. Avicii's manager Ash Pournouri compared the increasingly commercial EDM industry to the transformation and commercialization of hip hop, which occurred in the early 2000s, arguing that the "corporate world" was beginning to "catch on" to EDM.[22]

Following the mainstream success of EDM it became increasingly attractive to outside investors; with some comparing it to the Insomniac Events in 2013;[34] Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino described EDM as the "[new] rock 'n' roll."[35][36][37]

Corporate investment in EDM

In May 2014, the NBC comedy series Saturday Night Live parodied the stereotypes of EDM culture and push-button DJs through a Digital Short entitled "When Will the Bass Drop?". The short featured a DJ named Davvincii—who is seen performing a number of unrelated tasks—including playing a computer game, frying eggs, and collecting money rather than actually mixing, and pressing a giant "BASS" button to cause the heads of attendees to explode.[29][30][31]

Some house producers have openly admitted that "commercial" EDM required further differentiation and creativity. Avicii (whose 2013 album "True" featured songs incorporating elements of bluegrass music, such as its lead single "Wake Me Up") stated that there was "no longevity" in the majority of EDM.[24] Deadmau5 has also criticized the homogenization of EDM, stating that the music he hears "all sounds the same"—he emphasized his diversification into other genres, such as techno and, in 2014, he released a techno song under the moniker "testpilot" for Richie Hawtin's label, Plus 8. During the 2014 Ultra Music Festival, Deadmau5 made remarks attacking up and coming EDM artist Martin Garrix, and during his set later in the evening (where he filled in for Avicii, who was unable to attend due to medical issues), he played an edited version of Garrix's song "Animals" remixed to the melody of "Old McDonald Had a Farm". Following the performance, Deadmau5 was also criticized on Twitter by fellow electronic musician Tiësto for "sarcastically" mixing Avicii's "Levels" with his own "Ghosts 'n' Stuff", asking in response "How does one play a track sarcastically? "Am I supposed to sneer while hitting the sync button? Or is that ironic?”[25][26][27][28]

Despite the growing mainstream acceptance of EDM, a number of producers and DJs, including Carl Cox, Steve Lawler, and Markus Schulz, have raised concerns that the perceived over-commercialization of dance music has impacted the "art" of DJing. Cox sees the "press-play" approach of a new generation of EDM DJs as not being representative of what he calls the "DJ ethos".[17] Writing in Mixmag DJ Tim Sheridan questioned whether or not EDM was responsible for affecting the art of traditional DJing.[23] Sheridan contends that the emergence of "push-button DJs" who use auto-sync functions and pre-recorded sets featuring "obvious hits" rather than a diverse selection of music has led to a situation where "the spectacle, money and the showbiz [had] overtaken all—even notions of honesty."[23]

Criticism of commercial EDM

In January 2013, Billboard introduced a new EDM-focused Dance/Electronic Songs chart, tracking the top 50 electronic songs based on sales, radio airplay, club play, and online streaming[19] and by November the same year, Music Trades magazine was calling EDM the fastest growing genre on the planet.[20] In addition to the growth of EDM through live events and the Internet, radio and television were also credited with helping to increase mainstream attention: analysts noted that sales of Calvin Harris's "Feel So Close" and Swedish House Mafia's "Don't You Worry Child" dramatically increased after they began receiving contemporary hit radio airplay.[21] EDM songs and artists have been featured in television commercials and programs, while some artists have produced more pop-oriented songs to make their work more accessible to a mainstream audience.[22]

In 2011 Spin declared the start of a "new rave generation," with acts such as Guetta, Canadian producer Deadmau5, and Skrillex now followed by a new wave of mainstream consumers.[14] Elements of EDM also became increasingly prominent in the music of mainstream chart acts, and collaborations occurred with producers such as Afrojack and Calvin Harris.[14] Promoters could now generate higher profits from booking DJs over other types of music acts. According to Diplo:"a band plays, it's 45 minutes; DJs can play for four hours. Rock bands—there's a few headliner dudes that can play 3,000-4,000-capacity venues, but DJs play the same venues, they turn the crowd over two times, people buy drinks all night long at higher prices—it's a win-win."[14] Other major acts gaining prominence during this period, such as Avicii and Swedish House Mafia, elected to hold concert tours at major venues such as arenas alongside nightclub appearances; in December 2011, Swedish House Mafia became the first electronic music act to sell out New York City's Madison Square Garden.[17]

The increased popularity of EDM was also fuelled by concerts and festivals, such as Electric Daisy Carnival, that placed an increased emphasis on visual experiences (such as video and lighting effects), fashion (which The Guardian characterized as an evolution from the 1990s "kandi raver" into "[a] slick and sexified yet also kitschy-surreal image midway between Venice Beach and Cirque Du Soleil, Willy Wonka and a Gay Pride parade"), and the DJs themselves, who began to attain celebrity-like statuses. Websites such as YouTube and SoundCloud also helped fuel interest in other genres of electronic music, such as electro house and dubstep. At the time, Dubstep also began to develop a harsher sound popularized mainly by U.S. producer Skrillex.[17][18]

By the mid-2000s, a number of factors led to an increased prominence for dance acts in North America that was larger than previously observed. Daft Punk's performance at the 2006 Coachella Festival was considered by Spin to be a "tipping point" for EDM, as the appearance fueled nostalgia of the electronica era, and introduced the duo to a new generation of "rock kids".[14] In 2009, French house musician David Guetta began to gain prominence in mainstream pop music after achieving several crossover hits on Top 40 charts, such as "When Love Takes Over", and collaborations with U.S.-based pop and hip-hop acts, such as Akon ("Sexy Bitch") and The Black Eyed Peas ("I Gotta Feeling").[16]

Initially, electronic dance music achieved limited popular exposure in America when it was marketed as "electronica" during the mid to late 1990s.[13] At that time, a wave of electronic music bands from the UK, including The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Underworld, had been prematurely associated with an "American electronica revolution."[14][15] But, instead of EDM finding wider mainstream success, it was relegated to the margins of the industry.[14] Despite the domestic music media interest in "electronica" during the latter half of the 1990s, American house and techno producers continued to travel abroad to establish their careers as DJs and producers.[14]

North American commercialization of EDM

The success of house and acid house paved the way for Detroit Techno, a style that was initially supported by a handful of house music clubs in Chicago, New York, and Northern England, with Detroit clubs catching up later.[10] According to British DJ Mark Moore it was Derrick May's "Strings of Life" that eased London club-goers into acceptance of house, with Moore stating that: "I was on a mission because most people hated house music and it was all rare groove and hip hop...I'd play Strings of Life at the Mud Club and clear the floor. Three weeks later you could see pockets of people come onto the floor, dancing to it and going crazy – and this was without ecstasy." [11][12]


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