EDM Evolution: From Discotheques to Global Phenomenon

Electronic dance music (also known as EDM, dance music, club music, or simply dance) is a set of percussive electronic music genres produced primarily for dance-based entertainment environments, such as nightclubs. Dance music is generally produced for use by DJs and is most often presented in the context of a DJ mix.[1] So called "DJ producers" often perform live sets of their own dance music productions via a live PA.[2][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] Other dance music communities have questioned the idea of EDM as blanket term for all electronic dance music and the term has instead been associated with specific dance sub-genres that became popular in the US, such as electro house and brostep.[6]

A notable example of an early form of EDM is the 1977 collaboration between producer Giorgio Moroder and vocalist Donna Summer on the song "I Feel Love", a groundbreaking dance/discothèque hit with no traditional instruments.

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[7] The first era of electronic music comprises the instruments and music created prior to 1945.[8] The new field of information science inspired composers to explore the use of computers to compose and synthesize music, beginning in the 1950s.[9] The development of computer technology historically paralleled the development of the modern electronic music studio and synthesizer, leading to a cross-fertilization of the two fields that greatly benefited electronic music.[10] Birth of club music

See also: Hi-NRG, Electronic body music, Euro disco, Synthpop, Italo disco, Electro (music), Garage music (North America), Post-disco and House music Hi-NRG (pronounced "high energy")[11] is a style of uptempo disco or electronic dance music that originated in the United States and United Kingdom during the late 1970s.

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As a music genre, typified by a fast tempo (c. 140 bpm), staccato hi-hat rhythms (and the four-on-the-floor pattern), reverberated "intense" vocals, "pulsating" octave basslines, was particularly influential on the electronic dance music scene.

Its earliest association was with Italo disco, which incorporated new American electronic sounds of post-disco and hi-NRG. Later, the genre became essential in the evolution of techno, and, to a lesser but important degree, house music.[11] Artists like Daft Punk, Jus†ice or Calvin Harris represent only a small portion of those artists, coming mostly from a house music and electro-funk background, who gained a renewed interest in hi-NRG.[citation needed] Acid house and Rave

See also: Acid house, Techno, Rave and Second Summer of Love

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

Love Parade 1997 in Berlin.

By 1988, house music had exploded in the UK and Germany with acid house becoming increasingly popular.[12] There was also a long-established warehouse party subculture based around the sound system scene. In 1988, the music played at warehouse parties was predominantly house. That same year, the Balearic party vibe associated with Ibiza based DJ Alfredo Fiorito was transported to London, whenDanny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold opened the clubs "Shoom" and "Spectrum," respectively. Both night spots became synonymous with acid house, and it was during this period that the use of MDMA, as a party drug, started to gain prominence. Other important UK clubs at this time included "Back to Basics" in Leeds, Sheffield's "Leadmill" and "Music Factory," and in Manchester "The Haçienda," where Mike Pickering and Graeme Park's Friday night spot, "Nude," was an important testing ground for American underground [13] dance music.

Acid house party fever escalated in London and Manchester, and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. MDMA-fueled club goers, faced with 2 A.M. closing hours, sought refuge in the warehouse party scene that ran all night. To escape the attention of the press and the authorities, this after-hours activity quickly went underground. Within a year, however, up to 10,000 people at a time were attending the first commercially organized mass parties, called raves, and a media storm ensued.[14] 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.[15]

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." [16][17] During the 1990s, events such as the Love Parade in Germany attracted large numbers of attendees, but this subsided after the start of the next millennium.[citation needed] One of the popular raves or EDM concert in the United States of America is Electric Daisy Carnival also known as EDC.

EDC 2012 rave had over 85,000 people at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.[18] EDC at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has 6 stages for the DJ.[19] Not only there have 6 stages, they have amusement rides such as ferris wheel and numerous amounts of roller coasters.[20] Ever since EDC moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, they have been making more ticket sales.[21] EDC sold more than 230,000 tickets.[22] Also, another popular EDM concerts or raves in the United States of America is called Hard Summer.[23] Hard Summer is more an EDM concert that consist hip-hop, reggae, and rock that is infused with EDM style.[23] Los Angeles sold more than 40,000 tickets[23]

North American commercialization of EDM

Initially, electronic dance music achieved limited popular exposure in America when it was marketed as "electronica" during the mid to late 1990s.[24] 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."[25][26] But, instead of EDM finding wider mainstream success, it was relegated to the margins of the industry.[25] 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.[25] 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—the first in the duo's Alive 2006/2007 tour, which featured the introduction of a unique pyramid-shaped stage design and lighting rig, influenced what Spindescribed as an "arms race" for visual effects in electronic music. Spin also considered the act 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".[25] In 2009, French house musician David Guetta began to gain prominence in mainstream pop music after the 2009 release of "When Love Takes Over" (featuring the vocals of Kelly Rowland), which was internationally popular on both pop and dance music charts. The success of the song led to further collaborations with other pop and hip-hop acts, such asAkon ("Sexy Bitch") and The Black Eyed Peas.[27] His collaboration with the latter, "I Gotta Feeling", was a major success for both The Black Eyed Peas and Guetta—in the U.S., the song achieved sales of 249,000 downloads and debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number two, behind their previous single "Boom Boom Pow".[28]

The song eventually reached number 1 on July 30, 2009, and Billboard magazine reported that the song, along with "Boom Boom Pow," helped the group maintain a 17-week run at the top of the Hot 100, the longest time period achieved by a single, duo or group.[29] The increased prominence of EDM was also fueled 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, Alice In Wonderland, 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 an increased interest in house and other types of electronic music, such as electro house and dubstep—both of which had also developed a hard rock-influenced sound popularized by producers such as Excision, Knife Party, Rusko and, most prominently, American producer Skrillex.[30][31]

In 2011 Spin declared the start of a "new rave generation," led by names such as Guetta, Canadian producer Deadmau5, and Skrillex, that was followed by a new wave of mainstream consumers.[25] Elements of EDM also began to emerge in songs by mainstream artists, as collaborations occurred with artists such as Afrojack and Calvin Harris.[25]EDM producers and DJs also began experiencing success playing club shows in U.S. cities such as Las Vegas; at the time, Diplo argued that promoters could generate higher profits from DJs over other acts, stating that "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."[25]

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.[30] In November 2013, Music Trades magazine called EDM the fastest growing genre on the planet.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34] 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.[35] Corporate investment in EDM

In accordance with the significant growth in mainstream popularity, EDM became increasingly attractive to outside investors, with some comparing it to the dot-com boom of the late-1990s. The beginning of corporate consolidation in the EDM industry began in 2012; especially in terms of live events. In June 2012, media executive Robert F. X. Sillerman (founder of what is now Live Nation) re-launched SFX Entertainment as an EDM-focused conglomerate, and announced his plan to invest US$1 billion for the acquisition of EDM-related properties. His purchases included a number of regional promoters and festivals (including ID&T, organizers of the annual Tomorrowland festival in Belgium), along with two nightclub operators in Miami, U.S., and Beatport, an EDM-oriented online music store.[36][37]

The current Live Nation has also made investments into EDM, with its acquisition of Cream Holdings and Hard Events, and announced a "creative partnership" with Insomniac Events in 2013;[38] CEO Michael Rapino believed that EDM was the new "rock 'n' roll" of the generation.[39][40][41] 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.[34] iHeartMedia, Inc. (formerly Clear Channel Communications), the largest commercial U.S. radio conglomerate, launched a dance radio format in Boston on December 20, 2012 under the brand Evolution 101.7.

Marketed as the "first real EDM station" in the United States, the station, which changed its call letters to WEDX, was an extension of the Evolutioninternet radio channel on the company's iHeartRadio service. The company also hired prominent British DJ and BBC Radio 1 personality Pete Tong to produce content for Evolution.[42] In June 2014, the dance/EDM format of WEDX was dropped in favor of country music; the format, however, was moved to the HD Radio subchannel of a sister station.[43][44][45] The 2014 business report by International Music Summit (IMS), estimates the EDM industry market worth $6.2 billion a year.[46]

Criticism of commercial EDM

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".[30] Writing in Mixmag DJ Tim Sheridan questioned whether or not EDM was responsible for affecting the art of traditional DJing.[47] 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."[47]

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.[48] Deadmau5 has also criticized the homogenizationof 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?”[49][50][51][52] 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.[53][54][55]


The term "electronic dance music" was used in America as early as 1985,[56] 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.[56] In July 1995 Nervous Records and Project X magazine held their first award ceremony titled "Electronic Dance Music Awards." [57][58] Writing in 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 USA; an attempt to "draw line between today's EDM and 90s rave".[59]

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.[60] 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.[61]


Main article: List of electronic music genres

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.[62] The broadest categories include house,techno, trance, hardstyle, UK garage, drum & bass, dubstep, progressive, electro, trap and hardcore. Electronic body music (EBM) is a music genre that combines elements of post-industrial music, EDM and synthpunk.[63] It first came to prominence in Belgium and was considered a part of the European New Wave movement.[63] Pure electronic body music is referred to as "old-school EBM" and should not be confused with aggrotech, dark electro or industrial music.[64]


Typical tools for EDM production: computer, MIDI keyboard and mixer/sound recorder. 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: 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.[65] 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."[65]

Festival goers, celebrate at the AustralianFuture Music Festival (2013) Festivals

Electric Zoo Festival 2011 at the Hilltop Arena

See also: List of electronic music festivals and List of Electronic dance music festivals Other festivals, including Lollapalooza and Coachella have increased the number of EDM acts represented.[citation needed] Coachella in particular took an adventurous path giving electronic acts a high profile in a time when they were seldom booked alongside rock bands, in the United States at least. Rawley Bornstein, an MTV music and talent programmer, described EDM as "the new rock and roll,"[66] as has Lollapalooza organizer Perry Ferrell.[67] Ray Waddell, touring editor at Billboard magazine, noted that festival promoters have done an excellent job at branding.[66] 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.[68]

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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EDM Evolution: From Discotheques to Global Phenomenon. (2016, May 08). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/electronic-dance-music-essay

EDM Evolution: From Discotheques to Global Phenomenon essay
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