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EDM - Electronic Dance Music

This is as good a time as any to get one of today's biggest misconceptions out of the way. EDM is NOT the electronically produced equivalent of pop music. It is not even a genre. EDM (or Electronic Dance Music) is the umbrella term for genres such as House, Electro, Techno, Trance, and more combined. The term "EDM" has been misused for years; it is much more than just a certain style of music, as many believe it to be... Grab yourself a pen and a piece of paper, because you ought to be taking notes of what comes next...
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Table Of Contents:
EDM - Definition
EDM - A Brief History
EDM - Genres
EDM - Labels
EDM - Events/Festivals


EDM - Definition

The definition of Electronic Dance Music is a simple one. Often abbreviated to EDM, Electronic Dance Music is "all music produced electronically for the sole purpose of having people dance to it". See what we did there? Electronic(ally produced) Dance(able) Music. That's all. It's not that hard, is it?

EDM - A Brief History

Keeping its above-mentioned, true definition in mind, we can trace back the very beginning of Electronic Dance Music to Jamaica in the 1960s. The artists there tried to create new forms of music by overlapping multiple tracks on reel-to-reel audio tape recorders. This certain style of music became popular in night clubs and bars, was called Dub music, and was essentially the first form of EDM, even preceding Disco.

Somewhat later, in the 1970s, the same thing occurred. This time though, it was a man called Frankie Knuckles (rings a bell?) who tried mixing various genres on his mixer in an attempt to recreate sounds by adjusting the pace and by adding percussion to it. Thus, House music was born. And that's when the addictive traits of EDM began to infect to the rest of the world.

Within the next few decades, a legion of EDM genres hit the world, fuelling the meteoric rise of Electronic Dance Music. Now, EDM is the most thriving entities in today's music landscape, and arguably amongst the most popular ones as well.

EDM - Genres

Since EDM is the umbrella term for everything produced electronically or mainly consisting of electronic components (we're not THAT strict), there's a ton of EDM genres each covering a different part of its spectrum. Here, we break down the main pillars of EDM and mention a few leading artists per genre.

Ambient
Ambient music focusses on the atmosphere of a record instead of rhythm and power. Ambient surfaced in the 1970s when synthesizers were used to create experimental music. Key artists: Bonobo, Brian Eno, Conjure One.

Deep House
What actually classifies as Deep House is debatable, since a few House tracks from back in the 1980s that were slightly different from the rest were also called Deep House. We instead focus in the Deep House music of today and that specific style of music comprises laid-back vibes, soulful vocals with meaningful lyrics, and shuffling beats revolving around a steady 4/4 rhythm. And, of course, a Deep bass. Key artists: Kygo, Lost Frequencies, Robin Schulz.

Disco
Disco is where Rhythm & Blues, Funk, Soul, and Pop music collide. It was very popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and one of the very first genres of Electronic Dance Music to become so popular. Disco was also one of the main influences for House music. NOTE: We could've left this one out of the list since it featured a lot more acoustic instruments back in the days, as opposed to electronically produced elements. Key artists: Donna Summer, The BeeGees, Kool & The Gang.

Drum and Bass
Commonly abbreviated to D&B or DnB, Drum and Bass found its origin in the UK in the 1990s. It features fast-paced breakbeats in non-standard rhythms and, depending on sub genre, features raw, heavy-duty basslines to give the music a crude edge. Key artists: Black Sun Empire, Netsky, Pendulum.

Dubstep
Although often confused with the above-mentioned Drum and Bass, Dubstep is not as fast-paced and generally not as break-beat like. It does however featured unconventional rhythms and is widely known due to a certain sound element: the wobble bass (the 'wub'). Key artists: Royksopp, Seven Lions, Skrillex.

Electro House
Electro House surfaced when Electro, originally a fusion of Funk, early Hip-Hop, and New York Boogie, began to merge with the House scene of the late 1990s. In general, Electro House is led by a raw and prominent bassline and powerful kick drums, making it somewhat of a pumped-up version of 'regular' House music. Key artists: Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Knife Party, Steve Aoki.

Hardcore
Hardcore, supposedly going by the name of Harcore Techno once, originated in The Netherlands in the 1990s and is arguably the hardest style in this list. It is incredibly fast-paced (160 BPM-200 BPM), is often described as violent by those into more delicate music, and its kick drums are unrivalled in intensity (and distortion). Key artists: Angerfist, Neophyte, DJ Outblast.

Hardstyle
Hardstyle is - as its name implies - also one of the harder styles in this list. It is, however, more melodically oriented than hardcore and not as riddled with noise (sorry, die-hard hardcore fans). It kind of sits in the middle of hard techno and hardcore in the Electronic Music spectrum. Key artists: Brennan Heart, Frontliner, Noise Controllers

House
House is arguably the greatest root of 'em all. What began in Chicago through Frankie Knuckles and other like-minded individuals has seen itself rise above the underground scene and settle at the pinnacle of the entire music industry. Due to it being revolutionary and fresh when it broke onto the world in the early 1980s, it was the main ingredient for numerous other genres that found their ways later on, such as Techno and Trance. Key artists: Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Todd Terry.

Progressive House
Progressive House is what comes closest to what many wrongly refer to as EDM music. It is often accompanied by radio-friendly vocals, simple song structures, and catchy, easy-to-listen-to melodies. Progressive House is also the genre that is most easily fused with pop music, with many examples having presented themselves in the past few years (e.g. Zedd feat. Foxes - 'Clarity', Afrojack feat. Eva Simons - 'Take Over Control', Avicii - 'Wake Me Up'). Key Artists: Avicii, Hardwell, W&W.

Techno
If House music had a dark side, it would be Techno. It began its meteoric rise when Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, also known as the Belleville Three, laid down the foundations of the genre. It has a strong focus on the atmosphere of a track and an enduring build-up, while spotlighting steady, 4-to-the-floor beats and rolling basslines. Key artists: Carl Cox, Derrick May, Paul Kalkbrenner.

Trance
Trance music is all about entrancing people with awe-inspiring atmospheres, epic breakdowns, and spine-chilling melodies. The first tracks that could be classified as Trance music emerged in the late 1980s, although the early 1990s are best touted as the years in which Trance truly began to flourish. Key artists: Above & Beyond, Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk. Vocal trance is a popular sub genre.

EDM - Labels

Now we hear you think... "What? EDM labels? Are you f*cking kidding me? I thought EDM wasn't a genre at all. You made that very clear from the start."

Yes, you're right. This chapter would indeed come down to a list of labels per genre if it weren't for a few record companies taking on a broad range of EDM genres altogether. And since said record companies each represent a number of labels with their own individual focus each, we can just list those.

Armada Music

Armada Music is one of the labels releasing music across the broad spectrum of Electronic Dance Music. It deals in a wide variety of genres, which seems to increase further and further as time progresses. Among its labels are Armin van Buuren's Armind, A State Of Trance, and Who's Afraid of 138?! labels, Cedric Gervais' Delecta Records, Gareth Emery's Garuda, W&W's Mainstage Music, Showtek's SKINK, Erick Morillo's legendary Subliminal Records, and a whole lot more. This is about as diverse as it gets.

Black Hole Recordings

Black Hole Recordings also represents a monstrous amount of labels, though most of them have a strong focus on Trance music. Still, they definitely deserve to be mentioned. They've got labels from artists such as Markus Schulz, Cosmic Gate, Ferry Corsten, Paul Oakenfold, Max Graham, and more.

Spinnin Records

And, of course, Spinnin Records should also be part of this list. Just like Armada Music, they have also spread out quite nicely over the EDM spectrum, though they seem to focus more on club-oriented styles of music. They represent labels from artists such as Sander van Doorn, Olivier Heldens, Don Diablo, Tiƫsto, Blasterjaxx, and more.

EDM- Events/Festivals

In the past ten to twenty years, Electronic Dance Music saw an extreme increase in popularity. The global music industry began to pick up on EDM and it was only a matter of time before major events started to emerge. Now, we've got so many massive Electronic Dance Music festivals that we've lost count. But just to get you a quick heads up, here are five of the biggest EDM events/festivals of the moment.

Ultra Music Festival (UMF)

Starting off as a sick party at the annual Winter Music Conference in Miami in 1999, Ultra Music Festival has since spread to all corners of the world. Ultra Music Festival has hosted international editions in countries such as Japan, Croatia (Ultra Europe) and South Africa, making it one of the most widespread EDM festivals in this list. Due to a ton of different stages, almost every style of Electronic Music is featured in the three-day event.

Tomorrowland

Yesterday is history, today is a gift, tomorrow is mystery... Who hasn't heard of Tomorrowland and/or its slogan? The first edition of the Belgian festival was held on August 14th, 2005 and it has been one of the most magically decorated festivals ever since. Belgian brothers Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike are considered the resident DJs of the now three-day fesival, but the event attracts the biggest names from all over the world every single time. Expect to see Armin van Buuren, Hardwell, Martin Garrix, W&W, and more of the world's leading DJs and producers either in Belgium or in other countries through the Tomorrowworld or Tomorrowland Brazil spin-offs.

Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC)

Touted as the largest electronic music festival outside of Europe, Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) has been around since 1997. Having seen most of its editions across the United States, EDC became a two-day event in 2009 and upped the ante by becoming a three-day event in 2011. The festival (or carnival) has ventured beyond its U.S. borders several times, with EDC being held in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Attracting over 100.000 visitors per day, it is arguably the biggest festival in North America.

Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE)

What starts with the annual Amsterdam Dance Event in October usually ends with the highly anticipated Amsterdam Music Festival and the results of the annual DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll. That's not the only unique selling point of the festival though. The Amsterdam Dance Event is the Dutch equivalent of the Winter Music Conference in Miami and comprises a shitload of parties spread over the entire Electronic Dance Music spectrum. The nighttime line-up features more than 2000 DJs in 450 events and attracts over 350.000 visitors from all over the world, whereas the daytime conferences are what any music professional would drool over.

Creamfields

Traditionally being held on the August Bank Holiday weekend in the U.K., Creamfields is one of the biggest British EDM festivals. It began as an offshoot from Liverpool's Cream nightclub and has since won the award for Best Dance Event at the UK Festival Awards for an unprecedented eight times. The festival now comprises four days and the amount of stages runs in the double digits, including our very own Armada stage. Nice to mention, Creamfields has been held in lots of other countries as well: Australia, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Portugal, UAE (United Arabian Emirates), and Uruguay.


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