The Term "EDM" Needs to Stop. Right Now.

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Eric Gruneisen
By: Amber Taufman

I love electronic music. I love the sound, the artists, the parties, the people, the scene -- in fact, I'm into pretty much everything about this particular genre of music. But there's one thing about electronica that I'm really, really not into. At all.

It's the term "EDM." I hate it.

Some of this sentiment might be attributable to old-school sentimentality. I am yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. I acknowledge that.

But there are reasons for my dislike that transcend the fact that I'm a crotchety old raver. 1) It's inaccurate. 2) It's really only used in the United States. 3) It's used mostly by people outside the scene to describe music they don't really understand.

I started listening to electronic music in the late '90s. Back then, people used another blanket term for electronic music: techno. This wasn't a sustainable descriptor, mostly because techno is a specific sub-genre of electronic music -- it's kind of like referring to all rock music as "metal."

Those of us who were listening to it, though, typically didn't refer to it as "techno." We used the names for the specific sub-genres -- house, drum-and-bass, garage, trip-hop, etc. -- or we talked about music in the context of a specific event.

Sometimes, you'd hear people talk about "dance music" when discussing the rave scene during that point in time. This is how Europeans were referring to electronic music, and it was considered self-evident that the dance music in question was electronic -- what other kind of dance music was there, really? In Europe today, most people still use the term "dance music," and they consider the "EDM" term to be uniquely American (and, judging from how different European artists have used the term when I've talked to them about the scene, they also seem to think it's rather quaint).

Things changed as the genres gained popularity in the United States. A few years ago, around the mid-2000s, electronic music became much, much more popular, and a new blanket term to describe it was generated: EDM, which stands for "electronic dance music."

You might be wondering by now what my big issue with the term is. After all, EDM isn't that far removed from "dance music," and we have to call it something, right?

Continue to page two.


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54 comments
disconut73
disconut73

I think your article is inspired, and well-written.  Some of these comments are quite explosive.  They're part vituperative and fatuous...Yikes! You'd think I was watching an hour of FOX News.  Clearly, you've struck a nerve.


You'd think in 20 years of electronic music, the terms would be set, the definitions understood. What no one expected was that the Mainstream Music industry would get their feet wet in our little sea of activities.  Well, they have, and they've taken a proud tradition of great electronic music and shat all over it by piling newbie music producers into a category called "EDM". Not one legitimate DJ I know refers to themselves as an EDM artist...it just sounds silly.  And moreso because the artists piled into the EDM category are known not for "music" but for "noise". They boast loud, obnoxious bass lines, and when they tour, are well-packaged with killer light shows. It's all surface, it's all showy...no substance. It's like a laser light show for Top 40 Hip-Hop kids...it makes no sense!


I'm not suggesting the fans of EDM are substanceless...but they just don't know any better.  And we old-skoolers are to blame for their uneducation.  The good news is that great House/Techno music is out there, and more accessible now than ever before. It's all up to the individual to dig a little deeper, see what else might be out there. There's nothing more joyous than meeting a 20-something who is a devout "House head", and is just as puzzled with EDM as I am.


"Not everyone understands House Music..." classic lyric...but eh, I'm believer that anyone CAN, given the chance.  And that warms my heart each day.  For every poor kid that buys in to EDM and worships at the altar of Pretty Lights for a few months, there's one kid who checks out to discover better jamz, a better quality of electronic music. The only good EDM does is point fans to better artists out there, and abandon the EDC festivals for Movement in Detroit!


(Dig the old-skool flyers, BTW, go Superstars of Love/Kindred Groove in STL!!)

Eric Christner
Eric Christner

I don't care what you call it, the music needs to stop!

kkwan85
kkwan85

I always refer to it as Electronic Music.

EDM is a mainstream term and I'm 100% ok with it.

Why am I ok with it? Because like any genre, rock, hip hop, electronic music, fans gravitate towards mainstream tracks first. As their curiosity grows, so will their tastes for the underground flavors . People will figure shit out eventually. Getting pissed over a mainstream acronym is a waste of time. Move on and do something productive instead.

Carlos Vargas
Carlos Vargas

you know what really needs to stop. all these people arguing about what genre is better, oh this genre is trash, oh this is mainstream. oh this is the real underground shit. this is real music... ITS ALL MUSIC. just enjoy it and be happy someone took weeks even months to produce a track for us to enjoy.. yeah some tracks are good and some are not so good... do we really need to throw blows to prove what genre is better? just enjoy it and live life! :)

Carlos Vargas
Carlos Vargas

what are you supposed to call it then? it is Electronic Dance Music (EDM). i have no issue with this term. idk what people are tripping about now a days. like for real, ask yourself this question. like really, take some time to sit down and process it in your head. DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

Eddie Silva
Eddie Silva

Who cares, rave music takes absolutely no talent and it's fucking retarted.

Liana Warriner Padilla
Liana Warriner Padilla

I'm not sure why everyone gives a crap about the music other people listen to or what they call it. Does it really affect you? People are always judging other people's taste in music. I've been hearing this for years and it gets old. These music elitist are just pompous snobs

Ozzy Ramirez
Ozzy Ramirez

There all a bunch of trust fund kids who cares fuck them they know nothing about map points and desert raves

Ian Nguyen
Ian Nguyen

Modern technology made it easy for anyone to make music these days. No wonder music has no originality. All of these songs sound the same.

Martin Gilbert
Martin Gilbert

Ha, Ha, thats Y deY B da E trip, I like it, but edm or whatever, it rokz my into mY groove, with OUT, ANY MOFO Srugz!

Victor Salas
Victor Salas

Hey, the Europeans invented the genre. If they're umbrella term for the genre is Electronica, then that's what it is, end of story. Its like Rock and all its many forms, at the end of the day, no matter what type of alt/classic/hard/metal/punk/Indy it is, it still falls under the category of rock.

Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh

I'm glad to see the OC Weekly addressing the really important issues of the day. Just kidding. This article blows.

Timothy James Eastman
Timothy James Eastman

I don't know Tiesto, and I absolutely agree there are exceptions! But I definitely think that most of it I overly simplistic crap.

Andres Zambrano
Andres Zambrano

As long as the EDM douche-bags stay out of the underground scene I don't care what you call it.

Matt Gilbert
Matt Gilbert

YOU FUCKING EDM/DUBSTEP FANS ARE NEVER HAPPY.. fucking trendsters

Paolo Biagan
Paolo Biagan

You can include 'Electronica' and 'Rave Music' in the same category as EDM. Bleccchh!

Don Mexico
Don Mexico

you fuckin' new kids are strange. back in my day, we only called it house or techno, ,that's it. then someone decided to start coming up with all kinds of new names because one track had a different sound in it. house was deep and techno was electronic.

Cal State Fullerton Underwear Run
Cal State Fullerton Underwear Run

EDM- Electronic Dance Music. Here are some FORMS -House -Deep House -Dirty Dutch -Trance -PsyTrance -Electronica -Techno or I say TechYES ;) and MORE.. Its a LOT

Xander Lombardo
Xander Lombardo

They are too many scenes in OC people are always gonna go with the in crowd especially in OC. OC always gets left over scraps from LA and other big markets, example is that San Diego has always been an edm town

Victor Salas
Victor Salas

What I want to know is, what the hell happened to calling it Electronica? It makes more sense than EDM.

Brodie Alexander Boyer
Brodie Alexander Boyer

Oh man I highly disagree! Go ahead and try to make one song that will measure up to a Tiesto song. There are vast layers. It is a cookie and I'm glad there are all for mee!

Eric Shaw
Eric Shaw

Hate, hate, hate that term. But love House, Deep House, Progressive House (not that anthem crap real progressive house), Minimal, Techno, Tech-House. EDM is like "Rock" what the hell does that mean it tells you nothing. Lot of hate for electronic music here trying to figure out why. Did it run over your dog or something? If you don't like it don't listen to it. I don't like Rap, Heavy Metal or Country so I just don't listen to it. Just because I don't like it dosen't mean it's not good.

Timothy James Eastman
Timothy James Eastman

Chocolate chips aren't cookies Brodie Alexander Boyer and the vast majority of this "music" is only the chocolate chips. It lacks all other musical components.

Larry Siratt
Larry Siratt

It's a lot of work to clean toilets, but I don't consider janitors musicians.

Brodie Alexander Boyer
Brodie Alexander Boyer

So if you don't like it, is it then not music? Or do you have your own special definition?

Brodie Alexander Boyer
Brodie Alexander Boyer

I used to share your feelings but one day it hit me. It's not for everyone and not liking it yourself doesn't make it, "not music." As a musician myself I got a lot of respect for DJs when I found out how much work actually goes into it. It's not easy and not just anybody can do it. Most of these guys tap out all of their notes on keyboards. You do have to know what you're doing to make rhythms and melodies well enough for people to love them. Try it. Even if you are a traditional musician you will find it's not so easy.

David Santoro
David Santoro

Coincidence. Julio Mejia and I were just talking about this last night. What do you think?

Josh Angelsbaseballuncensored
Josh Angelsbaseballuncensored

Whatever the fuck they want to call it, that music sucks. I can't believe it's even called music, or that the guys who make it are called artist. Who the fuck wants to go to a concert and watch a guy up on stage with the MacBook a turntable and a pair of headphones do fucking nothing other than press play. To play a song that he made in his moms basement on a Tuesday night. That takes no fucking talent, No skill whatsoever.

Josh Angelsbaseballuncensored
Josh Angelsbaseballuncensored

No. Edm just needs to stop. All of it. The beads, the stupid T-shirts that say swag. All the guys who have no muscle walking around in tank tops and new Era hats that still have the stickers on them. The whole scene needs to go. But the go-go girls can stay

Insany Rivas
Insany Rivas

Dubstep needs to stop. Right now! That bastard half-step wobble piece of shit genre. And let true DnB & Jungle proceed.

Thuan Vo
Thuan Vo

Disagree. Edm means electronic dance music and it stands for most electro music. Theres nothing wrong with it. Bad article. Dont like it? Stfu and walk away

Thuan Vo
Thuan Vo

Disagree. Edm means electronic dance music and it stands for most electro music. Theres nothing wrong with it. Bad article. Dont like it? Stfu and walk away

Thuan Vo
Thuan Vo

Disagree. Edm means electronic dance music and it stands for most electro music. Theres nothing wrong with it. Bad article. Dont like it? Stfu and walk away

LadySpice
LadySpice

OH YES ;D

Happy hardcore, chillstep, electropop, progressive trance, progressive house, vocal trance, instrumental trance(and house), dance(that itself is a genre... I've always seen it as a more lyrically-focused techno sub-genre)... I know there's more.  

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