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4 EDM Genres that Will Never Die

You might have recently read or gone into a tiny rage about an article called 6 DYING EDM GENRES THAT NEED SOME SERIOUS CPR (read it here), just like I did. Today I'd like to present to our readers four edm genres that will never die, and you will definitely notice some overlap… because, well, I think edm.com is wrong.

1. Dubstep
Though it's true that some producers who started out playing dubstep are transitioning and evolving their sound, that doesn't exactly prove Dubstep as a genre is dying. Far from it. If anything, the dubstep genre as a whole has pretty much vaulted into collective consciousness and even completely unknown producers who used dubstep's bass influences exploded in popularity in 2013 and 2014 (Adventure Club, for instance – if you could map their trajectory, in 2011 their list of followers on soundcloud was mostly friends and family). Ditto for Seven Lions, Porter Robinson, Knife Party, Datsik, Flux Pavilion… a long lineup of dubstep producers have become insanely famous in a short period of time. For the love of God, Skrillex isn't “just” a musician – people around the world went out and asked for a Skrillex haircut. If bedroom producers becoming ridiculously rich and famous isn't a sign of a successful genre, then there are plenty of other indicators.

What makes a genre long lasting is its mutability and influence over other musicians and songs that aren't inside that genre. Sort of like asking “Did you become famous/popular because you used dubstep in your music, even though you aren't a dubstep producer? Dubstep's influence is felt like ripples across the EDM pond, spawning all new genres and changing the sound of thousands (maybe millions) of producers worldwide. Don't like pure grimy dubstep? That's okay, there's melodic dubstep! Don't like dubstep but love rap? Maybe you should check out some heavy trap. Dubstep's most notable feature, the dirty drop, is in almost every festival track you'll hear this summer, and last summer, and probably next summer – because that's what most people associate with “EDM” in its mass-consumption format. Summary: Dubstep is the influencer of many new EDM genres and contributing to changes in old genres.

2. Trance
If we can't use one producer as an example that a genre is dying, we probably can't use a producer to prove that a genre is thriving… but I'm going to do that anyway. Above and Beyond is probably the best example of the continued evolution of a genre. Formed in 2000, some of the groups members are legitimately old enough to be your dad, which won't stop you from blowing off the other mainstage acts so you can go lay down in the grass or sway under the stars to their music. Just like the gradual climb of Above and Beyond, trance is the “slow and steady wins the race” genre. In my opinion, the current popularity of the trance genre is due to the fact that its path has been long and winding, perfecting itself along the way. Trance used to be the uncomfortably close sibling of techno… but that's definitely not true anymore. Trance tracks today include things like soaring vocals and musical accompaniments like harps and piano. In 1990, the idea of a trance acoustic album would have been ludicrous, because the only instrument in trance was a computer and maybe a keyboard. In 2015, it's a complete possibility not only that an acoustic trance album could be made, but that it would be hugely popular across a fairly wide audience, a very small fraction of which would be hackers or gamers. Trance is also the genre that has best caught on, kept up, and dominated social media. With its rapidly growing, diverse fanbase, trance has its own hashtag (woohoo #trancefamily!), podcasts, facebook page, websites, and instagram account. Doesn't sound like a dying genre to me. Summary: Trance is the slow evolution and gradual climb into mass awareness.

3. Drum n Bass
I am going out on a limb with this one as I know that edmsauce readers are predominately house and electro fans – but the drum n bass genre will never die. From underground warehouses in the UK to…. underground warehouses in the UK, dnb is the genre that manages to remain undiluted and authentic, no matter what other genres or influences come along. And honestly that's a pretty incredible thing in the Music Industry (or anywhere, really). The natural tendency of anything is to tend toward chaos and change, but somehow drum n bass sounds the same as it did 20 years ago (don't believe me? take a listen to this track). Other genres have been forced to evolve, sometimes painfully, as they've gained popularity and as their producers have been preyed upon and pushed by consumers/labels/managers/venues to make their music more mainstream. And that sucks, but if you want to sell to ‘everyone' you have to make something that ‘everyone' would like. Drum n bass has never made that sacrifice, and because of that the music of drum n bass producers is beautifully true to the original sound with a reverence for Old Skool DNB. As such, fans are faithful and tend to be well educated about the history of the genre, which is something that cannot be said for your average EDM fan. Summary: Drum n Bass is undiluted purity in the face of a rapidly growing and changing music industry.

4. Progressive House
It was sort of ludicrous that the Progressive House genre was listed as dying – this genre is *the* one that has done nothing but grow in the last 10 years. The evidence given for this genre dying was that it “has found its way into…mainstream sound”. That's right – now that we're hearing Avicii playing in grocery stores around the world, the genre is dead. Me: ….I can't even. The most conclusive, compelling, overt indication that a genre is NOT dying is the fact that it is now globally accepted, millions of people are flocking toward it, its being played not just by DJs at a party for college kids but on the radio in my mother's minivan — somehow this was used as evidence that Progressive house is a dying genre. Maybe one could make the argument that too many producers are trying to make it big by making formulaic tracks or blatantly copying the works of others in this genre, that all these crappy songs make a lot of noise but not necessarily any music. That's not evidence of a dying genre necessarily, as long as all that new noise/music is drawing more listeners. Summary: Progressive House is mainstream EDM and its officially everywhere.

In 2014, Beatport put together a handy graphic that shows the popularity of genres as determined by purchases made on Beatport.com.
Beatport top edm genre Everyone acts as if this chart was the predictor of doom for any EDM genre that was trending downward. But….According to this chart progressive house and house music generally has been on a ‘death spiral' since 2005. I just… can't believe that's true.

Ask yourself: Do you think that what tracks people buy is related to genre? Or the type of consumer that normally listens to that type of music? For example, is it possible that dubstep fans don't like spending money on songs on Beatport because there's a limited selection (and many dubstep producers put their tracks on soundcloud for free)? Is the term “electro” too broad – for tracks that are sort of undefined, wouldn't you just classify them as electro? In which case maybe there are more tracks in the electro “bucket” than other genres, so it might make sense that more electro tracks are being sold? Is it possible that since EDM genres are going mainstream, more people are buying these tracks from iTunes, Google, Amazon, etc…. rather than on Beatport? So, if Beatport sold “less house tracks” in 2014, does that mean less house tracks were sold everywhere? Especially if the producers are more and more famous, it makes sense they'd start selling music on the mass consumption platforms, maybe? What about the fact that some artists now sell tracks on their own websites (like Deadmau5)? If Beatport suddenly sold ‘less Deadmau5 tracks' this might lead you to conclude he's less popular, but is it possible he's just selling more music elsewhere and Beatport is a small piece of those sales?

Maybe I don't want to admit all these EDM genres are dying because I love them all equally. To me they are like the the pieces in a chess game – each is unique, each has its own moves and is the best play at different times. I believe that co-mingling these genres above can turn producers from nobodies into success stories. If you look at some of the most talented producers, instead of narrowly defining themselves as one genre or another, you will see that how they demonstrate their talent is through genre diversity in their music:
Feed Me – Drum n bass + Dubstep + Electro
Seven Lions – Dubstep + Progressive House
Major Lazer – Reggae, Trap, Hip Hop, and Moombahton
Mat Zo – One of the most popular artists of 2014, who blends Trance, Progressive House and down tempo
Dillon Francis – Whose entire Mysteryland set was a blend of Moombahton, Trap, and Deep house but certainly would not be labeled as an artist that sticks to any of these genres regularly…
there's too many to list, but Carnage, Doctor P, Jason Ross, Fox Stevenson… being a ‘multi-genre' producer is not only a smart business move, but it's frankly more fun and provides challenges for the producer as well as complexity for the listener.

I think it's fantastic and thrilling that one of my favorite dubstep producers, Porter Robinson, is gravitating toward making his own genre, which could be described as future ambient or indietronic. His songs are weird and fantastic and unlike anything I've ever heard – and I know that's the same for a lot of other dubstep fans. You don't have to like his new album to admit that he has talent and courage to step away from the safety net of what made him famous. The fact that he's broadening his musical palette as well as those of his fans is actually a really awesome journey. Even if it wasn't, even if his Worlds album had been a total failure, you wouldn't say “well that guy stopped playing basketball every day, I guess the NBA is dying.” You wouldn't even say that if the guy was an Olympic athlete or the founder/inventor of basketball itself. Because no matter how famous an individual producer is, they are just one person contributing their skills and experience to the evolution. New producers and new influences will continue to flow in regardless.
There are definitely debates to be had about genres in general:

  • A genre is a collection of things that are alike, but how alike do they need to be?
  • What genre is this song which is like lots of things?
  • Does this song suck or not, per the expectations of the people who like the genre its in? What about the people who like other genres – do they think it sucks too?
  • Those are the discussions worth having. Using the preferences of one producer to say that a whole genre is dying seems not only wrong, but a serious insult to the hundreds of producers who contribute to that genre, and the hundreds of thousands (or millions) of fans worldwide who follow it.

    Summary: I think edm.com is wrong and I think Beatport.com's chart is misleading.
    Disclaimer: Or I'm crazy.
    Disclaimer: There are definitely some genres I wish would die, absolutely, as soon as possible, but I can appreciate that other people love them. And I'm not going to say anymore about that.

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