EDM – How’d It Get So Big?

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Electronic dance music, also known as EDM, hasn’t always held the place in our culture that it does today. Although the conception of electronic dance music was around in the 70’s, and gained a certain level of exposure in the 80’s, it wasn’t until more recently that the genre truly blossomed into what it is today.  

Check out Armin van Buuren live at Ultra Music Festival in Miami to see where things are at these days with EDM festivals. Massive!

But things haven’t always been this bangin’ for electronic music artists in terms of the public perception of the genre.  It took a while for the genre to catch on, although some people did recognize early on the potential of electronic music, even at the beginning in the 1970’s.

Here is a video showing pioneering electronic musician Jean Michel Jarre playing live in 1976, just to give you some perspective on what’s been happening over the years.  While Jean Michel Jarre is a major pioneer, he was simply helping to open the door to what’s possible today in terms of mass acceptance of the genre.

But the real question we ask is why electronic music has taken the prominent place in our culture that it currently holds?  In other words, how’d it get so big?  Let’s take a look at some of the reasons behind the rise of electronic music, as well as the reasons why this surge in popularity didn’t occur before.

Early Days and Struggle for Acceptance

Prior to the 21st century, electronic music struggled to find its voice anywhere in society other than within the underground music scene. Part of the reason why electronic music was unable to flourish during its adolescent years, was due to the media’s incessant lampooning of the genre. European and American media outlets simultaneously stigmatized electronic music. By conjoining dance music with destructive drug use and damaging lifestyle choices in the popular mind, the media made it very difficult for electronic music to be thoroughly embraced. 

There was also a merging of genres with electronic music mixed with rock music, creating bands that were the very first synth pop bands.  For example, remember The Human League?  They were but one of the bands who integrated electronic music fully into their sound to make what you might call a new hybrid of various types of music.

And it didn’t stop there.  Another wave of bands came along in the late ’80s who embraced electronic and dance elements, such as the whole “Madchester” scene from England.  The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, et al. were part of this next wave of “different” dance-infused rock bands.

But as much as people enjoyed these new and interesting bands, they were still bands.  We still hadn’t hit upon the emergence of the mega-popular EDM DJ, which was to come at the turn of the millennium.  By the end of the 90’s, huge festivals that were once dominated by rock bands, like Lollapalooza, had taken a turn to the electronic bands, which some people loved, and others hated.  Hybrid rock-electronic bands like The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim, and The Chemical Brothers were beginning to usher in a new age of DJs headlining big festivals.

The Social Media Effect

After the year 2000 arrived, with the advent of the internet and its rising popularity, electronic music had new means at its disposal to spread organically throughout the culture. Undoubtedly, social media played an important role in bolstering the growth of electronic music. Musicians now had the opportunity to upload their content and promote their art in a way that reaches the consumer directly.

Rather than allowing for the media to shape their conception of electronic music for them, consumers could see what the genre had to offer for themselves through social media and video streaming platforms.

Word Of Mouth

Another factor is word of mouth. There’s a reason why the phrase “Nothing sells like word of mouth” is commonly uttered in marketing circles. If you haven’t been to an electronic dance music festival yourself, chances are you know somebody who has. This person has probably vehemently evangelized the merit of the event in such a way as to compel scores of others to try out a festival for themselves.

electronic music festival

The fact that festivals can routinely draw crowds of over 200,000 people, is a huge incentive for people to enthusiastically join in. Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival are prime examples of this trend.

The sense of community and oneness that many attendees attest to, provides something of a spiritual experience. This also adds a layer of interactiveness that festival-goers participate in. In a sense, each listener at a festival becomes a star of their own.

Through the wearing of psychedelic attire, and even the sporting of things such as glow sticks, festival-goers have the opportunity to express themselves in their own unique way. Many of these modes of expression, unique to the electronic music scene, eventually find themselves developing into traditions.

For example, Steve Aoki, an American DJ, has made a tradition out of throwing a cake at a member of his audience during each show. And make no mistake, for Steve Aoki fans, this is considered nothing less than a true pleasure and high honour.

The Compositional Inclusion Of Various Genres

Many schools of thought attribute the rise of electronic music due to the diversity of its genres, which, as we discussed previously, had begun to be absorbed into EDM from the get go. Now, there is literally something out there for everybody. If you like hard, fast paced, quick BPM jams then you might find your refuge in dubstep. If you’re looking for pop style choruses over jazz and soul infused rhythmic tunes, you may enjoy deep-house. From there, there are countless scores of other electronic music genres that appeal to different tastes.

When examining the reasons behind the rise of electronic music, it is also important for us to take a look at how electronic music is made. Electronic music helped to revolutionize the process of creating music, and this process has certainly been met with criticism. Many old school musicians and purists, for example, look down upon the methods with which electronic music producers use to create their tunes.  This of course, dates back to old school hip hop and how those artists used turntables to make their music, and rock fans were never particularly in favor of it then either, just like now.  EDM fans and rock fans, to make a generalization, don’t normally mix well.  Of course, there are always people who are open to everything.  F*ck the haters!

Still, it is not uncommon for people today to raise their brows in contempt by the fact that electronic music producers and DJ’s can create their sounds through the use of a computer alone. But the fact that electronic dance music can be created through the sole use of a computer, has established a somewhat blue collar approach to electronic music production that doesn’t require the ability to read music or play instruments.  

As technology continues to evolve, DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software will as well. DAW’s in many cases, allow for the producer to construct electronic music songs, from start to finish, without the help of anything beyond a computer, and some basic software along with plug-ins. This, as previously touched upon, has revolutionized the music industry, and electronic music in particular. Whether one regards it as a non-instrumental deviation from the pure creation of real music, or a genuine evolution in the process, it has undoubtedly simplified that process for scores of upcoming and ambitious producers trying to get into the industry.

The Fall Of Disco Music

To backtrack for a moment, as disco music was on its way out, electronic music took the reins in terms of being a new, grassroots crowd-gathering, dance-inducing genre of music. As acid house and techno music took hold in Chicago and Detroit in the 80’s, folks began to experience a microcosm of the massively attended festivals that we frequently see today.

EDM Collaborations

Another reason why electronic music is as popular as it is, is the fact that is capable of assimilating all forms of music within its structure, as we’ve repeatedly stated. Electronic music can and does often feature sweeping pop choruses, hip hop bars of lyrics, jazz drumming etc… This is yet another reason why just about anyone can find something that appeals to them, after going through a number of electronic music songs. This versatile structure, has helped to give electronic music universal appeal. When electronic music producers frequently collaborate with other musicians outside of their genre, it creates an effect that inevitably points back to electronic music itself. For example, when David Guetta collaborates with the Black Eyed Peas, and then collaborates with Kelly Rowland, the listener of both tracks understands that the common denominator is electronic music.

We leave you with this…

Facts About Hardwell

 

Robbert van de Corput, aka Hardwell is more than just your average EDM artiste. Over the years his sound has evolved from just being heard in clubs, EDM festivals and underground parties. He is now a big name on the mainstream front and chances are that, even if you’re not an EDM diehard, you have a couple of his tracks sitting on your iPod.

To get to the top, you need to be committed to your goals and have a strong work ethic and Hardwell is no exception. Over the years we’ve watched him grow musically into the superstar he is today. You might know most of his tracks or attended his festivals but here are some facts about Hardwell that aren’t known by many:

He has his own fragrance

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Anyway back to the scent, if you’re a perfume enthusiast, Eclipse can be purchased from the Revealed Store for €39.95.

Hardwell’s pet, Jager is more popular than you

Unless you have more than 78.5 k Instagram followers, Hardwell’s pet pug has a better chance of being featured in Rolling Stone than you. If you follow Hardwell on his socials you’ll often see him upload pictures of his famous dog. Here’s a picture of the cute little lass sunbathing at the beach:

Part-time Samurai

The international superstar isn’t just skilled on the decks and in the studio. Besides music, Hardwell spent his teen years practicing Judo during his free time. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need security when moving around, but if you’re planning on confronting him physically, you should perhaps rethink that idea.

Sorry dude! You’re too young

Between ages 14 and 18, Hardwell wasn’t allowed to go to DJ in clubs alone. His parents had to chaperone him whenever he was booked to play at a club. Cool huh? Hitting the club with your parents.

First DJ on the blockchain

Popularized by Bitcoin, blockchain technology is now being employed in various industries, music being one of them. Hardwell, always eager to stay ahead of the pack, hasn’t been left behind. He is the first DJ to put his rights into a blockchain. He claims, “This (blockchain) will change the music industry radically and forever.”

Early Beginnings

Hardwell began DJing when he was only 13 years old and was signed by a Dutch label when he was 14 years old.

Tools of Labour

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Apple Logic Studio [Old Version]

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His brand of choice when it comes to speakers is Genelec. He claims the speakers bring out each element of sound properly.

Work-life Balance

Hardwell finds it hard to deal with the pressure and stress of being a superstar DJ. In his inspiring documentary, I Am Hardwell, he claims that Hardwell and Robbert are 2 people trapped in one body and that it’s physically and emotionally taxing, handling the pressure of being Hardwell. He once collapsed on stage after a series of back to back shows and had to take a hiatus to recoup his energy.

Bad Cook

Hardwell’s best friend and Dutch DJ/Producer, Dannic, says that often after long hours in the studio, they’d want to get something in their stomachs but having Hardwell cook is a big NO!

“He’s a terrible cook,” says Dannic.

20 Best EDM DJs of All Time

best edm djs of all time

Martin Garrix, Avicii, Astrix, David Guetta, Infected Mushroom, Skrillex… We are all used to seeing these names on these kinds of lists.

Usually, that’s because of how much money they earn, or records they sell. It is time to see things from a new perspective.

Here is a list of the top 20 Djs worldwide, who are the most talked about according to social media and online searchers.


# 20 – SHPONGLE

Shpongle is a psychedelic music project formed in 1996 in England. Members are Raja Ram and Simon Posford.

This duo is considered to be one of the ancestors of the psybient genre. It combines world music with ambient and psychedelic trance music.

Their tracks combine traditional music and sounds from all over the world and amazing female and male vocals with western synthesizer-based psychedelic music.


#19 – Steve Aoki

Steven Aoki mixes electro, dubstep and progressive house into his unique dance sound.

He was described by Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg as a genre defining the music that the globe needs more of.


#18 – GOA GIL

Gil was born in 1951 and was raised in San Rafael, California. He lived the birth of the hippie movement and the acid rock, and was involved with the freak collectives Family Dog and Sons.

He took off first to Amsterdam and then to India in 1969 and ended up settling in Goa.


#17 – Deadmau5

Joel Zimmerman’s alter-ego is almost as famous for his various takes on house music as for his online outbursts.


#16 – TRISTAN

With a career as long as the history of psy-trance, this guy has been a star in the festival scene for years.

He played at the most important festivals in the world. He has a massive number of fans who love his full-on music of deep psychedelia.


#15 – Tiësto

Dj Tiesto or Micheil Verwest is still on top three decades later, he is today combining his old trance with a pop charm that has won him a new generation of fans.

Tiësto was top of Forbe’s world’s highest-earning Djs list.


#14 – DJ BLISS

DJ Bliss is among a small group of Emirati celebrities with the highest career growth and taking their talent internationally.

He has been able to establish himself as one of UAE’s most influential entertainers being the first Emirati DJ to go on tour.


#13 – Diplo

Best known for Major Lazer and Jack Ü alongside Skrillex, this guy spent the year of 2015 on top of festival lineups and global charts.

This year will certainly be no different, however it might be hard to make something more popular than Lean On.


#12 – AZAX SYNDROM

One of the best makers of Psy-Trance music, AZAX SYNDROM (aka Regev Azaria), is easily one of the most influential artists today.

He creates his own music style, or as he calls it “Power Trance”.


#11 – Hardwell

Robbert van de Corput, or Hardwell was an early bloomer. He is one of the people who fell in love with the EDM music.

Hardwell’s was one of DJ Magazine’s Top 100 for 2 straight years, 2013 and 2014.


#10 – NEELIX

There’s only one obvious thing in the sound of Neelix: Relentless forward boost. Exactly how this boost is generated is not obvious at all – which makes it catchy in the most subliminal way possible.

Neelix nicely adds elements of Progressive Trance to Progressive House and Electro music.


#9 – Avicii

Wake Me Up made by Avicii in 2013 was for sure the song that made Avicii’s career take off. He’d sold 10M albums before the end of the year.

Since then, he has made himself as a real festival A-lister, riding high with his fellow Axwell Swedes and Alesso.


#8 – VIBE TRIBE

Elmar Ivatarov is one of the creators of the Vibe Tribe project. He has been making electronic-based music since he was only 13 years old.

He spent four whole years of experimentation of thorough learning which kick started his professional career as a Dj. A short while after, he started releasing tracks on different compilation releases.


#7 – Martin Garrix

This guy is easily a child prodigy of EDM. Martijn Garritsen was only 17 when Animals went international during February 2013.


#6 – Skrillex

In the 2000s, Sonny John Moore was making emo-rock music with From First to Last.

He may still look like a hardcore star, but it is clear that his electronic career has been way more successful. He is now into electronic dance music.


#5 – ANGERFIST

Danny Masseling is a Dutch hardcore producer and DJ. He was born on 20 June 1981.

He produces for various genres and subgenres under many aliases. He is also part of the following groups: Roland & Sherman (with Outblast), Masters Elite (with Catscan and Outblast) The Supreme Team (with Outblast, Tha Playah & Evil Activities) and Masters Elite (with Catscan and Outblast).


#4 – Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris is the next biggest thing from Scotland after whiskey. He has had one foot in the pop world and one in dance music since his start in 2007.


#4 – RAJA RAM

Raja Ram is an Australian musician. He left Australia in the 50s to start the hippie trail. He studied flute at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and went to New York in 65 to study jazz.

He was a founder of the psychedelic rock band Quintessence in the 70s. He was also the co-founder of Shpongle. And he now plays solo and is one of the best Djs of the psytrance scene.


#3 – Infected Mushroom

Infected Mushroom is an Israeli musical duo formed in Haifa in 1996 by producers Amit Duvdevani and Erez Eisen. They produce and perform psychedelic music, psytrance and electronica.

They are one of the best-selling artists in the Israeli music history in terms of both international and domestic sales.


#2 – David Guetta

He has been in the electronic music industry since the 90s, but Guetta’s solo career went worldwide these last years.

Billboard declared his 2009 track When Love Takes Over, with Kelly Rowland, the best dance-pop duo of all time, in 2013.


#1 – Astrix

And the #1 Dj of our list is Avi Shmailov or Astrix! He is an Israeli trance music Dj specializing in full-on psy-trance.

He is a leading trance maker and DJ and he has been for more than a decade. He is carrying his message of beautiful emotional uplifting trance to the most well-known urban clubs, big festivals and underground events.