Electronic dance music

Electronic dance music (also known as EDM, dance music,[1] club music, or simply dance) is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres made largely for nightclubs, raves, and festivals. EDM is generally produced for playback by disc jockeys (DJs) who create seamless selections of tracks, called a mix, by segueing from one recording to another.[2] EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA. In the United Kingdom, EDM is more commonly called 'dance music' or simply 'dance'.[3]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, following the emergence of raving, pirate radio, and an upsurge of interest in club culture, EDM acquired mainstream popularity in Europe. During the mid to late 1990s, despite the initial success of a number of dance acts in America, acceptance of dance culture was not universal and mainstream media outlets remained hostile to the music. At this time a perceived association between EDM and drug culture led governments at state and city level to enact laws and policies intended to halt the spread of rave culture.[4]

By the early 2010s the term "electronic dance music" and the initialism 'EDM' was being pushed by the U.S. music industry and music press in an effort to re-brand American rave culture.[4] Despite the industry's attempt to create a specific EDM brand the initialism remains in use as an umbrella term for multiple dance genres, including house, techno, trance, drum and bass, dubstep, and their respective subgenres.[5][6][7][8]


Early examples of electronic dance music include the disco music of Giorgio Moroder and the electronic music of Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra in the late 1970s.[9]


Main articles: Disco and Euro disco
Donna Summer: "I Feel Love" (1977)
Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (1977), produced by Giorgio Moroder, was a seminal Euro disco song.

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During the early 1980s, the popularity of disco music sharply declined in the United States, abandoned by major U.S. record labels and producers. European disco continued evolving within the broad mainstream pop music scene.[10] European acts Silver Convention, Love and Kisses, Munich Machine, and American acts Donna Summer and the Village People were acts that defined the late 1970s Euro disco sound. In 1977, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte produced "I Feel Love" for Donna Summer. It became the first well-known disco hit to have a completely synthesised backing track. Other disco producers, most famously American producer Tom Moulton, grabbed ideas and techniques from dub music (which came with the increased Jamaican migration to New York City in the seventies) to provide alternatives to the four on the floor style that dominated.[11][12]


Main article: Post-disco
See also: Boogie (genre)

During the post-disco era that followed the backlash against "disco" which began in the mid to late 1979, which in the United States lead to civil unrest and a riot in Chicago known as the Disco Demolition Night,[13] an underground movement of "stripped-down" disco inspired music featuring "radically different sounds"[14] started to emerge on the East Coast.[15][Note 1] This new scene was seen primarily in the New York metropolitan area and was initially led by the urban contemporary artists that were responding to the over-commercialisation and subsequent demise of disco culture. The sound that emerged originated from P-Funk[18] the electronic side of disco, dub music, and other genres. Much of the music produced during this time was, like disco, catering to a singles-driven market.[14] At this time creative control started shifting to independent record companies, less established producers, and club DJs.[14] Other dance styles that began to become popular during the post-disco era include dance-pop,[19][20] boogie,[14] electro, Italo disco, house,[19][21][22][23] and techno.[22][24][25][26][27]


Main article: Electro (music)
The instrument that built electro, the Roland TR-808 drum machine.

In the early 1980s, electro emerged as a fusion of funk and New York boogie. Also called electro-boogie, but later shortened to electro, cited pioneers include Zapp,[13] D.Train,[14] Sinnamon.[14] Early hip hop and rap combined with German and Japanese electropop influences such as Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) inspired the birth of electro.[15] As the electronic sound developed, instruments such as the bass guitar and drums were replaced by synthesizers and most notably by iconic drum machines, particularly the Roland TR-808. Early uses of the TR-808 include several Yellow Magic Orchestra tracks in 1980-1981, the 1982 track "Planet Rock" by Afrikaa Bambaataa, and the 1982 song "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye.[16] In 1982, producer Arthur Baker with Afrika Bambaataa released the seminal "Planet Rock" which was influenced by the Yellow Magic Orchestra using Kraftwerk samples and drum beats supplied by the TR-808. Planet Rock was followed later that year by another breakthrough electro record, Nunk by Warp 9. In 1983, Hashim created an electro funk sound which influenced Herbie Hancock, resulting in his hit single "Rockit". The early 1980s were electro's mainstream peak.

House music

Main article: House music

In the early 1980s, Chicago radio jocks The Hot Mix 5 and club DJs Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles played various styles of dance music, including older disco records (mostly Philly disco and Salsoul[17] tracks), electro funk tracks by artists such as Afrika Bambaataa,[18] newer Italo disco, B-Boy hip hop music by Man Parrish, Jellybean Benitez, Arthur Baker, and John Robie, and electronic pop music by Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Some made and played their own edits of their favorite songs on reel-to-reel tape, and sometimes mixed in effects, drum machines, and other rhythmic electronic instrumentation. The hypnotic electronic dance song "On and On", produced in 1984 by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-written by Vince Lawrence, had elements that became staples of the early house sound, such as the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer and minimal vocals as well as a Roland (specifically TR-808) drum machine and Korg (specifically Poly-61) synthesizer. It also utilized the bassline from Player One's disco record "Space Invaders" (1979).[19][20]

Mr. Fingers: "Can You Feel It?" (1986)
"Can You Feel It?" (1986) by Mr. Fingers (Larry Heard). It was a seminal deep house track.

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"On and On" is sometimes cited as the 'first house record',[21][22] though other examples from around that time, such as J.M. Silk's "Music is the Key" (1985), have also been cited.[23] House music quickly spread to other American cities such as Detroit, New York City, and Newark—all of which developed their own regional scenes. In the mid-to-late 1980s, house music became popular in Europe as well as major cities in South America, and Australia.[24] Chicago House experienced some commercial success in Europe with releases such as "House Nation" by House Master Boyz and the Rude Boy of House (1987). Following this, a number House inspired c releases such as "Pump Up The Volume" by MARRS (1987), "Theme from S'Express" by S'Express (1988), and "Doctorin' the House" by Coldcut (1988) entered the pop charts.

However, House music was thriving on the small Balearic Island of Ibiza, Spain. The Balearic sound was the spirit of the music emerging from the island in the mid 1980s; the combination of old vinyl rock, pop, reggae, and disco records paired with an “Anything goes” attitude made Ibiza a hub of drug-induced musical experimentation.[25] The true beating heart of Ibiza was a farmhouse turned club named Amnesia. This is where House music culture emerged. Owner Antonio Eschotado longed to create a place where people could party until after the sun rises. And he did, but it was a joint effort. A creator of Balearic sound, DJ Alfredo, was the forerunner of house music.[26] He was the residing DJ at Amnesia who pioneered the sound of Ibiza. Soon Amnesia was the hottest house party in Europe by the mid to late 1980’s drawing in people from all over the continent. In addition to catalysing the growth of Ibiza and the popularisation of House music, this was also the precursor of capital and tourist industries in the EDM market.[27]

Acid house, techno, rave

Main articles: Acid house, Techno, and Rave music
Phuture: "Acid Tracks" (1987)
Phuture's "Acid Tracks" (1987) is often regarded as the 'first' acid house record.

Rhythim is Rhythim: "Strings of Life" (1987)
"Strings of Life" (1987) by Rhythim is Rhythim (Derrick May) was a seminal Detroit techno track.

Juan Atkins: "Techno Music" (1988)
"Techno Music" by Juan Atkins was the title track of Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit (1988).

Inner City: "Big Fun" (1988)
The album also included "Big Fun" (1988) by Inner City (Kevin Saunderson and Paris Grey), a track that achieved significant commercial success as a single release in fall 1988.[28]

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

In the mid 80s house music thrived on the small Balearic Island of Ibiza, Spain. The Balearic sound was the spirit of the music emerging from the island at that time; the combination of old vinyl rock, pop, reggae, and disco records paired with an “anything goes” attitude made Ibiza a hub of drug-induced musical experimentation.[25] The scene was mainly centered around a club called Amnesia where its resident DJ, Alfredo Fiorito, pioneered Balearic house.[26] Amnesia became known across Europe and by the mid to late 1980’s it was drawing people from all over the continent.[27] By 1988, house music had become the most popular form of club music in Europe, with acid house developing as a notable trend in the UK and Germany in the same year.[29] In the UK an established warehouse party subculture, centered on the British African-Caribbean sound system scene fueled underground after-parties that featured dance music exclusively. Also in 1988, the Balearic party vibe associated with Ibiza's DJ Alfredo was transported to London, when Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold opened the clubs Shoom and Spectrum, respectively. Both places became synonymous with acid house, and it was during this period that MDMA gained prominence as a party drug. Other important UK clubs included Back to Basics in Leeds, Sheffield's Leadmill and Music Factory, and The Haçienda in Manchester, where Mike Pickering and Graeme Park's spot, Nude, was an important proving ground for American underground dance music.[Note 1][30] 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.[31] The term Techno first came into use after a release of a 10 Records/Virgin Records compilation titled Techno: The Dance Sound of Detroit in 1988.[32]

One of the first Detroit productions to receive wider attention was Derrick May's "Strings of Life" (1987), which, together with May's previous release, "Nude Photo" (1987), helped raise techno's profile in Europe, especially the UK and Germany, during the 1987-1988 house music boom (see Second Summer of Love).[33] It became May's best known track, which, according to Frankie Knuckles, "just exploded. It was like something you can't imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can accept a record that doesn't have a bassline."[34] According to British DJ Mark Moore, "Strings of Life" led London club goers to accept house: "because most people hated house music and it was all rare groove and hip hop...I'd play 'Strings of Life' at the Mudd Club and clear the floor".[35][Note 2] By the late 1980s interest in house, acid house and techno escalated in the club scene and MDMA-fueled club goers, who were faced with a 2 a.m. closing time in the UK, started to seek after-hours refuge at all-night warehouse parties. Within a year, in summer 1989, up to 10,000 people at a time were attending commercially organised underground parties called raves.[1]

Breakbeat hardcore, jungle, drum & bass

4-track illustration of the evolution and continuity of the drum and bass sound.
2 minute sample. This clip contains 4 tracks ranging from proto-jungle "Tribal Bass" (1991) to jungle track "Here I Come" (1995) to an ominous early drum and bass remix (1995) to Aphrodite's modern drum and bass remix (in a jump-up style), "Tribal Natty" (2005), all of which contain the same vocals from Barrington Levy (originally contained in the title song of his album Here I Come). Listen and compare the sounds.

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By the early 1990s, a style of music developed within the rave scene that had an identity distinct from American house and techno. This music, much like hip-hop before it, combined sampled syncopated beats or break beats, other samples from a wide range of different musical genres and, occasionally, samples of music, dialogue and effects from films and television programmes. Relative to earlier styles of dance music such as house and techno so called 'rave music' tended to emphasise bass sounds and use faster tempos, or beats per minute (BPM). This sub genre was known as "hardcore" rave, but from as early as 1991, some musical tracks made up of these high-tempo break beats, with heavy basslines and samples of older Jamaican music, were referred to as "jungle techno", a genre influenced by Jack Smooth and Basement Records, and later just "jungle", which became recognized as a separate musical genre popular at raves and on pirate radio in Britain. It is important to note when discussing the history of drum & bass that prior to jungle, rave music was getting faster and more experimental.

By 1994, jungle had begun to gain mainstream popularity and fans of the music (often referred to as junglists) became a more recognisable part of youth subculture. The genre further developed, incorporating and fusing elements from a wide range of existing musical genres, including the raggamuffin sound, dancehall, MC chants, dub basslines, and increasingly complex, heavily edited breakbeat percussion. Despite the affiliation with the ecstasy-fuelled rave scene, Jungle also inherited some associations with violence and criminal activity, both from the gang culture that had affected the UK's hip-hop scene and as a consequence of jungle's often aggressive or menacing sound and themes of violence (usually reflected in the choice of samples). However, this developed in tandem with the often positive reputation of the music as part of the wider rave scene and dance hall-based Jamaican music culture prevalent in London. By 1995, whether as a reaction to, or independently of this cultural schism, some jungle producers began to move away from the ragga-influenced style and create what would become collectively labelled, for convenience, as drum and bass.[37]

Popularization in the United States

Initially, electronic dance music was associated with European rave and club culture. It achieved limited popular exposure in America but by the mid-to-late 1990s efforts were underway to market a range of dance genres using the label "electronica."[38] At the 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".[39][40] But rather than finding mainstream success, many established EDM acts were relegated to the margins of the US industry.[39] In 1998 Madonna's Ray of Light brought the genre to the attention of popular music listeners.[41][42] Despite US media interest in electronica in the late 1990s, American house and techno producers continued to travel abroad to establish their careers as DJs and producers.[39] Other new names began to gain prominence at the turn of the century, such as Dutch producer Tiësto, who received worldwide attention after providing a soundtrack to the entry of athletes during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics—which The Guardian newspaper deemed one of the 50 most important events in dance music.[43]

By the mid-2000s, the prominence of dance music in North American popular culture had markedly increased. According to Spin, Daft Punk's performance at Coachella in 2006 was the "tipping point" for EDM—it introduced the duo to a new generation of "rock kids".[39] As noted by Entertainment Weekly, Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" helped introduce EDM sounds to top 40 radio, as it brought together variations of electronic dance music with the singer’s R&B sounds.[44][45] In 2009, French house musician David Guetta began to gain prominence in mainstream pop music thanks to several crossover hits on Top 40 charts such as "When Love Takes Over", as well as his collaborations with U.S. pop and hip-hop acts such as Akon ("Sexy Bitch") and The Black Eyed Peas ("I Gotta Feeling").[46] YouTube and SoundCloud helped fuel interest in EDM, as well as electro house and dubstep. Skrillex popularized a harsher sound nicknamed "brostep", or dubstep.[4][47]

The increased popularity of EDM was also influenced by live events and gigs. Promoters and venues realized that DJs could generate larger profits than traditional musicians; Diplo explained that "a band plays [for] 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."[39] Electronic music festivals notably the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) and Ultra Music Festival also grew in size, placing an increased emphasis on visual experiences, and the DJs themselves, who began to attain a celebrity status.[4][47] Other major acts that gained prominence including Avicii and Swedish House Mafia held concert tours at arenas rather than nightclubs; in December 2011, Swedish House Mafia became the first electronic music act to sell out New York City's Madison Square Garden.[47]

In 2011, Spin declared a "new rave generation" led by acts like David Guetta, Deadmau5, and Skrillex.[39] 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.[48] According to Eventbrite, EDM fans are more likely to use social media to discover and share events or gigs. They also discovered that 78% of fans say they are more likely to attend an event if their peers do, compared to 43% of fans in general. EDM has many young and social fans.[49][49] By late 2011, Music Trades was describing electronic dance music as the fastest-growing genre in the world.[50] Elements of electronic music also became increasingly prominent in pop music.[39] Radio and television also contributed to dance music's mainstream acceptance.[51]

US corporate interest

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 conglomerate, and announced his plan to invest $1 billion to acquire EDM businesses. His acquisitions included regional promoters and festivals (including ID&T, which organises Tomorrowland), two nightclub operators in Miami, and Beatport, an online music store which focuses on electronic music.[52][53] Live Nation also acquired Cream Holdings and Hard Events, and announced a "creative partnership" with EDC organizers Insomniac Events in 2013 that would allow it to access its resources whilst remaining an independent company;[54] Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino described EDM as the "[new] rock 'n' roll".[38][55][56]

It was projected that EDM would fade out and would be as popular as it was years ago.[57] This shows us that EDM is a genre that is constantly increasing its revenue, and won't die out anytime. Currently EDM in the United States has gone up by 60% since 2012.[58] This just comes to show how much it has impacted the economy greatly throughout the years. In 2015 it was estimated that EDM was worth around 5.5 billion dollars and it is still rising.[59] EDM is a genre that keeps increasing in popularity and capital, that it is not going to have a major decline in either category in the near future.

U.S. radio conglomerate iHeartMedia, Inc. (formerly Clear Channel Media and Entertainment) has also made efforts to align itself with EDM. It hired noted British DJ and BBC Radio 1 personality Pete Tong to produce programming for its "Evolution" dance radio brand,[60] and announced a partnership with SFX in January 2014 to co-produce live concerts and EDM-oriented original programming 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]".[61][62]

Major brands have also used the EDM phenomena as a means of targeting millennials[63][64] and EDM songs and artists have increasingly been featured in television commercials and programs.[65] Avicii's manager Ash Pournouri compared these practices to the commercialization of hip-hop in the early 2000s.[65] Heineken has a marketing relationship with the Ultra Music Festival, and has incorporated Dutch producers Armin van Buuren and Tiësto into its ad campaigns. Anheuser-Busch has a similar relationship as beer sponsor of SFX Entertainment events.[65] In 2014, 7 Up launched "7x7Up"—a multi-platform campaign centered around EDM that includes digital content, advertising featuring producers, and branded stages at both Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival.[63][66][67] Wireless carrier T-Mobile US entered into an agreement with SFX to become the official wireless sponsor of its events, and partnered with Above & Beyond to sponsor its 2015 tour.[64]

In August 2015, SFX began to experience declines in its value,[68] and a failed bid by CEO Sillerman to take the company private. The company began looking into strategic alternatives that could have resulted in the sale of the company.[69][70] In October 2015, Forbes declared the possibility of an EDM "bubble", in the wake of the declines at SFX Entertainment, slowing growth in revenue, the increasing costs of organizing festivals and booking talent, as well as an oversaturation of festivals in the eastern and western United States. Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella felt that the industry would weather the financial uncertainty of the overall market by focusing on "innovation" and entering into new markets.[71]

International popularisation

In May 2015, the International Music Summit's Business Report estimated that the global electronic music industry had reached nearly $6.9 billion in value; the count included music sales, events revenue (including nightclubs and festivals), the sale of DJ equipment and software, and other sources of revenue. The report also identified several emerging markets for electronic dance music, including East Asia, India, and South Africa, credited primarily to investment by domestic, as well as American and European interests. A number of major festivals also began expanding into Latin America.[72]

China is a market where EDM had initially made relatively few inroads; although promoters believed that the mostly instrumental music would remove a metaphorical language barrier, the growth of EDM in China was hampered by the lack of a prominent rave culture in the country as in other regions, as well as the popularity of domestic Chinese pop over foreign artists. Former Universal Music executive Eric Zho, inspired by the U.S. growth, made the first significant investments in electronic music in China, including the organisation of Shanghai's inaugural Storm festival in 2013, the reaching of a title sponsorship deal for the festival with Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand, a local talent search, and organising collaborations between EDM producers and Chinese singers, such as Avicii and Wang Leehom's "Lose Myself". In the years following, a larger number of EDM events began to appear in China, and Storm itself was also preceded by a larger number of pre-parties in 2014 than its inaugural year. A new report released during the inaugural International Music Summit China in October 2015 revealed that the Chinese EDM industry was experiencing modest gains, citing the larger number of events (including new major festival brands such as Modern Sky and YinYang), a 6% increase in the sales of electronic music in the country, and the significant size of the overall market. Zho also believed that the country's "hands-on" political climate, as well as investments by China into cultural events, helped in "encouraging" the growth of EDM in the country.[73][74]


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-commercialisation of dance music has impacted the "art" of DJing. Cox saw the "press-play" approach of EDM DJs as unrepresentative of what he called "DJ ethos".[47] Writing in Mixmag, DJ Tim Sheridan argued that "push-button DJs" who use auto-sync and play pre-recorded sets of "obvious hits" has resulted in a situation overtaken by "the spectacle, money and the showbiz".[75]

Some house producers openly admitted that "commercial" EDM needed further differentiation and creativity. Avicii, whose 2013 album True featured songs incorporating elements of bluegrass, such as lead single "Wake Me Up", stated that most EDM lacked "longevity".[76] Deadmau5 has criticized the homogenization of EDM, stating that the music he hears "all sounds the same", underlining his diversification into other genres like techno. During the 2014 Ultra Music Festival, Deadmau5 made critical comments about up-and-coming EDM artist Martin Garrix and later played an edited version of Garrix's "Animals" remixed to the melody of "Old McDonald Had a Farm". Afterwards, Tiësto criticized Deadmau5 on Twitter for "sarcastically" mixing Avicii's "Levels" with his own "Ghosts 'n' Stuff".[77][78][79][80]

In May 2014, the NBC comedy series Saturday Night Live parodied the stereotypes of EDM culture and push-button DJs in a Digital Short entitled "When Will the Bass Drop?". It featured a DJ who goes about performing everyday activities—playing a computer game, frying eggs, collecting money—who then presses a giant "BASS" button, which explodes the heads of concertgoers.[81][82][83]


The term "electronic dance music" (EDM) was used in the United States as early as 1985, although the term "dance music" did not catch on as a blanket term [95]. Writing in The Guardian, journalist Simon Reynolds noted that the American music industry's adoption of the term EDM in the late 2000s was an attempt re-brand U.S. "rave culture" and differentiate it from the 1990s rave scene. In the UK, "dance music" or "dance" are more common terms for EDM.[4]What is widely perceived to be "club music" has changed over time; it now includes different genres and may not always encompass EDM. Similarly, "electronic dance music" can mean different things to different people. Both "club music" and "EDM" seem vague, but the terms are sometimes used to refer to distinct and unrelated genres (club music is defined by what is popular, whereas EDM is distinguished by musical attributes).[96]until the late 1990s, when the larger U.S. music industry created music charts for "dance" (Billboard magazine has maintained a "dance" chart since 1974 and it continues to this day.).[93] In July 1995, Nervous Records and Project X Magazine hosted the first awards ceremony, calling it the "Electronic Dance Music Awards".[Note 4]


According to author Steve Taylor[84] Afrika Bambaataa's 1982 electro (short for "electro-funk") album Planet Rock serves as a "template for all interesting dance music since".[84] Various EDM genres have evolved over the last 30 years, for example; electro, house, techno hardcore, trance, drum and bass etc. Stylistic variation within an established EDM genre can lead to the emergence of what is called a subgenre. Hybridization, where elements of two or more genres are combined, can lead to the emergence of an entirely new genre of EDM.[85]


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

In a 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 famous venues including Berghain, Output, and Trouw—Andrew explained the critical importance of bass to dance music:

Dance music would not 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.[86]

Andrew warned that too much bass—and too much sound in general—can be harmful, stating that a "good sound engineer will understand that there is a window between enough sound to give excitement and so much that it is damaging".[86]


An EDM festival in 2013 with over 100,000 attendees[87] exhibiting the large crowds and dramatic lighting common at such events since the early 2000s.[4]

Electronic dance music was often played at illegal underground rave parties. These were held in secret locations, for example, warehouses, abandoned bridges, fields and any other large, open areas. In the 1990s and 2000s, aspects of the underground rave culture of the 1980s and early 1990s began to evolve into legitimate EDM concerts and festivals. Major festivals often feature a large number of acts representing various EDM genres spread across multiple stages. Festivals have placed a larger emphasis on visual spectacles as part of their overall experiences, including elaborate stage designs with underlying thematics, complex lighting systems, laser shows, and pyrotechnics. The concepts of rave fashion among attendees also evolved, which The Guardian described 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"[4][47][66] These events differed from underground raves by their organized nature, often taking place at major venues, and measures to ensure the health and safety of attendees.[88] MTV's Rawley Bornstein described electronic music as "the new rock and roll",[89] as has Lollapalooza organizer Perry Ferrell.[90]

spectrum dance music festival

Ray Waddell of Billboard noted that festival promoters have done an excellent job at branding.[89] Larger festivals have been shown to have positive economic impacts on their host cities[88] the 2014 Ultra Music Festival brought 165,000 attendees—and over $223 million—to the Miami/South Florida region's economy.[67] The inaugural edition of TomorrowWorld—an U.S.-based version of Belgium's Tomorrowland festival, brought $85.1 million to the Atlanta area—as much revenue as its hosting of the NCAA Final Four earlier in the year.[91] The increasing mainstream prominence of electronic music has also led major U.S. multi-genre festivals, such as Lollapalooza and Coachella, to add more electronic and dance acts to their lineups, along with dedicated, EDM-oriented stages. Even with these accommodations, some major electronic acts, such as Deadmau5 and Calvin Harris have made appearances on main stages during the final nights of Lollapalooza and Coachella, respectively—spots traditionally reserved for prominent non-electronic genres, such as rock and alternative.[92][93]

Russell Smith of The Globe and Mail felt that the commercial festival industry was an antithesis to the original concepts of the rave subculture, citing "the expensive tickets, the giant corporate sponsors, the crass bro culture—shirtless muscle boys who cruise the stadiums, tiny popular girls in bikinis who ride on their shoulders – not to mention the sappy music itself."[94] Drug-related incidents, as well as other complaints surrounding the behaviour of their attendees, have contributed to negative perceptions and opposition to electronic music events by local authorities;[94][95] After Ultra Music Festival 2014, where a crowd of gatecrashers trampled a security guard on its first day, Miami's city commissioners considered banning the festival from being held in the city, citing the trampling incident, lewd behavior, and complaints by downtown residents of being harassed by attendees. The commissioners voted in favor of allowing Ultra to be held in Miami due to its positive economic effects, under the condition that organizers address security, drug usage and lewd behavior by attendees[96][97][98]

Association with recreational drug use

Dance music has a long association with recreational drug use.[99] Russell Smith noted that the association of drugs and music was by no means exclusive to electronic music, citing previous examples such as Psychedelic rock and LSD, disco music and cocaine, and punk music and heroin.[94]

Ecstasy is commonly consumed at raves. Above, a rave in Austria in 2005.

MDMA is often considered the drug of choice within the rave culture and is also used at clubs, festivals and house parties.[100] In the rave environment, the sensory effects from the music and lighting are often highly synergistic with the drug. The psychedelic amphetamine quality of MDMA offers multiple reasons for its appeals to users in the "rave" setting. Some users enjoy the feeling of mass communion from the inhibition-reducing effects of the drug, while others use it as party fuel because of the drug's stimulatory effects.[101]

MDMA is occasionally known for being taken in conjunction with psychedelic drugs. The more common combinations include MDMA combined with LSD, MDMA with psilocybin mushrooms, and MDMA with ketamine. Many users use mentholated products while taking MDMA for its cooling sensation while experiencing the drug's effects. Examples include menthol cigarettes, Vicks VapoRub, NyQuil,[102] and lozenges.

The incidence of nonmedical ketamine has increased in the context of raves and other parties.[103] However, its emergence as a club drug differs from other club drugs (e.g. MDMA) due to its anesthetic properties (e.g., slurred speech, immobilization) at higher doses;[104] in addition, there are reports of ketamine being sold as "ecstasy".[105] The use of ketamine as part of a "postclubbing experience" has also been documented.[106] Ketamine's rise in the dance culture was rapid in Hong Kong by the end of the 1990s.[104] Before becoming a federally controlled substance in the United States in 1999, ketamine was available as diverted pharmaceutical preparations and as a pure powder sold in bulk quantities from domestic chemical supply companies.[107] Much of the current ketamine diverted for nonmedical use originates in China and India.[107]

Reports of alleged drug related deaths

A number of deaths related to alleged drug use have occurred at major festivals in recent years, involving such drugs as heroine, cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, designer drugs, and MDMA. Electric Daisy Carnival was forced to move to Las Vegas in 2011, when the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum refused to host any it or any other Insomniac-organized electronic music events after an underaged attendee died from a cocktail of drugs including heroin, cocaine, and "ecstasy" at the 2010 edition.[88][108][109][110] Drug-related deaths during Electric Zoo 2013 in New York City, United States, and Future Music Festival Asia 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, prompted the final day of both events to be outright cancelled,[109][111] while Life in Color cancelled a planned event in Malaysia out of concern for the incident at Future Music Festival Asia and other drug-related deaths that occurred at the A State of Trance 650 concerts in Jakarta, Indonesia.[112][113][114]

Industry awards

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 (2016) by "Where Are Ü Now", Jack Ü featuring Justin Bieber
Grammy Award Best Dance/Electronica Album 2005–present Most recently won (2016) by Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü
DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll 1991–present The British dance music magazine DJ Mag publishes a yearly listing of the top 100 DJs in the world; from 1991 to 1996 the Top 100 poll were ranked by the magazine's journalists; in 1997 the poll became a public vote; The last poll in 2016 named Martin Garrix as No1.
DJ Awards Best DJ Award 1998–present The only global DJ awards event that nominates and awards international DJ's in 11 categories held annually in Ibiza, Spain, winners selected by a public vote[115] and one of the most important[116]
Winter Music Conference (WMC) IDMA: International Dance Music Awards 1998–Present[117]
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".[118] 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.[118]
American Music Awards Favorite Electronic Dance Music 2012–present [119]
World Music Awards Best DJ and Best Dance Music Artist 2006–present ,[120][121]

See also


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  2. "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".[36]


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