Over the last decade, electronic dance music has influenced mainstream music and dominated charts worldwide. While earlier EDM was unappreciated and overlooked, it has since become one of the world’s most popular music genres. The ever-growing scene has given rise to thousands of electronic music events all over the world, generating billions of dollars each year.
Hi, I’m Ben from Live Aspects and in this guide, I’ll be walking you through the world of electronic dance music and answering the most commonly asked questions about EDM.
- | What Is EDM?
- | Genres Of EDM
- | What Is The Most Popular Genre Of EDM?
- | How Is EDM Made?
- | Where To Download EDM
- | Most Popular EDM Songs
- | Top EDM Artists
- | Top EDM Festivals
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
| What Is EDM?
EDM stands for Electronic Dance Music and is the umbrella term for all electronic genres of music including House, Techno, Trance, Dubstep etc. EDM is made primarily for nightclubs, raves, and festivals using a combination of computer software and hardware. Electronic dance music is essentially any form of music that is produced electronically. It can be distinguished by the use of inorganic sounds and the lack of live instrumentation and recordings. EDM compositions also have an emphases on rhythm and often contain samples from pre-existing audio recordings.
| Genres Of EDM
Contrary to popular belief, EDM is not referred to as a specific genre. Since EDM’s emergence in the mid-1980’s, more than 100 subgenres of electronic dance music have come about. Many of these subgenres can be categorized under 4 main genres of EDM: House, Techno, Trance and Dubstep. Each of these main genres originated in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Tempo, tone, rhythm and instrumentation are just a few of the characteristics that seperate each subgenre from one another. EDM releases will often be categorized under more than one subgenre of EDM as they can contain elements from multiple styles of electronic music.
Below you will find of list of subgenres by which Beatport categorizes their entire catalogue of EDM tracks.
| What Is The Most Popular Genre Of EDM?
In 2021, the most popular genre of EDM was Tech House. Tech house combines features of techno with house, distinguishable by four-to-the-floor kicks, off-beat hats and rolling basslines. The most notable tech house tracks of 2021 include ‘Do It To It’ by ACRAZE, ‘Tell Me Something Good’ by Ewan McVicar and ‘Make Me Feel’ by John Summit. Some of the most prominent figures in the tech house scene include Chris Lake, Fisher, Green Velvet, CamelPhat and Carl Cox.
| How Is EDM Made?
EDM is traditionally made on a laptop or computer using music production software called a Digital Audio Workstation (or DAW for short). It is made by creating, manipulating and arranging MIDI, loops, samples, live recordings and sound effects along a linear timeline. DAWs can be used in conjunction with different sorts of hardware such as keyboards, drum pads, mixers and microphones.
Ableton Live, Logic Pro and FL Studio are three of the most popular DAWs used to create EDM. If you’re interesting in learning more about electronic music production software, make sure to check out our guide titled ‘Best Music Production Software In 2022’. You can also find dozens of specific and informative music production tutorials here.
| Where To Download EDM
Beatport is an online music store dedicated to electronic music. It is the go-to marketplace for DJs to purchase tracks, extended mixes and remix stems for their sets. Discover new and trending EDM tracks with Beatport’s Top 100 charts, artist playlists and new release showcases.
SoundCloud is a popular audio streaming platform where artists can share their music for free without a music distributor. It is a great place for musicians to share their music, receive feedback and gain recognition. While all SoundCloud uploads can be streamed for free, SoundCloud offers its artists the option to make their tracks downloadable.
Traxsource is another online electronic music store, similar to Beatport, with more of a focus on underground music from genres like House and Techno. Although the price of individual tracks on Traxsource is marginally more expensive, users can earn significant discounts when purchasing compilations and albums.
| Most Popular EDM Songs
Darude – Sandstorm [Trance]
‘Sandstorm’ is a trance-techno song released in 1999 by the Finnish producer Darude. It immediately gained mainstream attention after its release and has been a hit at festivals, clubs and parties ever since. Sandstorm gained a second wave of recognition after becoming a popular meme online.
Avicii – Levels [Progressive House]
‘Levels’ is a progressive house song released in 2011 by Swedish DJ & Producer Avicii. It became a mainstream hit at a time when EDM was not topping charts. It samples the euphoric vocal performance from the gospel hit ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’ by Etta James. ‘Levels’ has clocked more than 1 billion streams on YouTube and Spotify.
Martin Garrix – Animals [Big Room House]
‘Animals’ is a bigroom house song released in 2013 by Dutch DJ & Producer Martin Garrix. After releasing the song at just 17 years old, Garrix became the youngest person ever to reach the No. #1 spot on the Beatport charts. The song effectively propelled a relatively unknown artist into a global sensation.
One More Time – Daft Punk [French House]
‘One More Time’ is a french house record released in 2000 by French duo Daft Punk.The song was listed at #5 on Pitchfork Media’s top 500 songs of the 2000s and it was voted the ‘Greatest Dance Record Of All Time’ by Mixmag readers. It reached reached No. 1 in a number of countries including Britain, Canada and Portugal.
Skrillex – Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites [Dubstep]
Released in 2010, ‘Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites’ was the title track to Skrillex’s second EP. The song introduced millions to the Dubstep genre which was previously relatively unheard of. The song was certified 2× Platinum and won the ‘Best Dance Recording’ award at the 54th Grammys.
| Top EDM Artists
Scottish DJ, producer, singer and songwriter Calvin Harris was the first British solo artist to reach more than one billion streams on Spotify. He has collaborated with an extensive list of artists including Katy Perry, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and many more. With a net worth of more than $300 million, Harris is the highest-paid DJ to date and has won dozens of music awards.
At just 25 years of age, Garrix has accumulated more than 10 billion streams across Spotify and YouTube alone. Garrix was ranked No. #1 on DJ Mag‘s Top 100 DJs list years in a row (2016, 2017, & 2018). In 2013, he became the youngest person to reach the No. #1 spot on Beatport. His most known singles include ‘Animals’, ‘In The Name Of Love’, and ‘Scared To Be Lonely’.
With more than 10 billion streams, French DJ/Producer David Guetta has been topping charts for decades. In 2011 & 2020, David Guetta was voted the No. #1 DJ in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll. His most notable songs include ‘Titanium’ feat. Sia and ‘Hey Mama’ feat. Nicki Minaj. Guetta is also one of the highest-paid DJ’s today, with an estimated net worth of $85 million.
Dutch DJ & Producer Tiesto is regarded as the “Godfather of EDM”. In 2011, Tiesto was voted the ‘Greatest DJ Of All Time’ by Mix magazine readers. His 2004 release ‘Adagio For Strings’ has become one of the most recognized EDM songs of all time. Behind Calvin Harris, Tiesto is the second highest-paid EDM artist in the world with an estimated net worth of $170 million.
Sonny Moore, more commonly known as Skrillex, is arguably the most significant pioneer of the Dubstep genre. His 2010 song ‘Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites’ was known to have defined his sound. It took him from an up-and-coming producer to an EDM icon. Skrillex has won 8 Grammy Awards, holding the world record for most Grammys won by an EDM artist.
| Top EDM Festivals
Tomorrowland is an annual electronic music festival held in Belgium. It is the largest EDM festival in the world and takes place over two weekends. Tomorrowland won the award for ‘Best Music Event’ at the 27th International Dance Music Awards. Since its origin in 2005, Tomorrowland has grown to receive an attendance of 400,000 EDM fans. With 14 stages and more than 700 artists, 2022’s event will be Tomorrowland’s 16th edition.
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC)
EDC is the largest electronic dance music festival in North America, hosting more than 2.1 million attendees since 2011. The annual 3-day festival hosts more than 230 artists across eight different stages. Along with the main Las Vegas event, a number of additional EDC events are been held annually in other US states and countries including Orlando, China, and Mexico.
Ultra Music Festival
With an attendance of over 170,000 at its last event, Ultra Music Festival is an electronic music festival held annually in Miami, Florida. Since its emergence in 1999, Ultra has expanded to countries around the world including South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Mexico and more. Ultra Music Festival won DJ Magazine’s ‘World’s Best Festival’ award in 2016 and 2017.
Creamfields festival is the UK’s most prestigious electronic dance music festival. It is an annual 4-day event that has hosted up to 280,000 people each year since 2017. The event has seen headline acts including Swedish House Mafia, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto and Carl Cox. Creamfields has won UK Festival Awards’ ‘Best Dance Festival’ award nine times since 2004.
Parookaville is an annual 3-day electronic music festival held in Weeze, Germany. It is Germany’s largest music festival and is known for its city themed stage designs. Parookaville hosts acts for fans of every EDM genre, including big names like Afrojack, The Chainsmokers, DJ Snake, Above & Beyond and more. Since its founding in 2015, Parookaville has grown from an attendance of 25,000 to 85,000 in 2019.
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Here at Live Aspects, we have dozens of useful lessons and tutorials created to enhance your music production skills and help speed up the learning process. You can access our huge range of music theory lessons and production tips and tricks here.