1) Jessica Cohn. The Electronic Music Scene: The Stars, the Fans, the Music.

2) Webster, David R (2015) Electronic Dance Music, Neo-Liberalism and Philosophy. [Teaching Resource]

3) Marshall, Wayne. 2010. “Sounds of the Wide Wired World.” The National. Abu Dhabi, UAE. October 29.

4) Herbert, R. Young. 2012. People’s Use and Subjective Experience of Music Outside School. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition and the 8th Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of music, July 23-28, 2012. Thessaloniki, Greece

5) Garcia, L-M. Beats, flesh and grain: sonic tactility and affect in electronic dance music (2015). Sound Studies.

6) Sayers, Jeffrey John. “The Wrong Mix: Electronic Dance Music and its Copyright Problem” (2014). Law School Student Scholarship. Paper 566.

7) Tucker, Boima. “Global Genre Accumulation.” Africa Is A Country, November 22, 2011.

8) STATS, Eddie. “Okayafrica Exclusive: Diplo and Chief Boima Debate the Politics of Tropical Bass.” okayplayer, March 22, 2012.

9) The structure of international music flows using network analysis New Media & Society May 1, 2010 12: 379-399

10) Music in Electronic Markets: an empirical study

11)  Peel, Ian. “Dance music.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web.13 Apr. 2015. <;.
12) Dayal, Geeta, and Emily Ferrigno. “Electronic Dance Music.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. 10 Jul. 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.<;.
13) Eigenfeldt, Arne, and Phillippe Pasquier. “Evolving structures for electronic dance music.”

14) Anna Ostrom. We call it Swedish Techno. Vol 3, No 1 (2011): Special Issue on the DJ. Dancecult, Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture

15) Beyond Avicii: The Swedish Techno Mafia


17) 17 U.S.C. § 114

18) Antonia Mortenson. How Electronic Music Industry takes festivals global, NN (August 9, 2013)

19) Ben Sisario. (quoting Michael Rapino, Chief Executive of the woconcert promoter Live Nation) Electronic Dance Concerts Turn Up the Volume, Tempting Investors, The New York Times (April 4, 2012)

20) EDM History. EDM Music Junkies,

21) Kara Warner. Donna Summer ‘Definitely Influenced’ Flo Rida, Other EDM Acts, MTV NEWS.

22) Michaelangelo Matos. How Chicago house got its groove back, CHICAGO READER (May 3, 2012). -the-second-wave-of-chicago-housemusic/Content?oid=6194277

23) Scott Plagenhoef. Drop the Bass: How the 90’s Won Again, GQ Magazine (March 23, 2012)

24) Antonia Mortensen. Electronic Dance Music: How Bedroom Beat Boys Remixed the Industry, CNN (April 12,2012)

25) Andrew Spada. Zedd’s ‘Clarity’ Reaches #1 on US Radio, DANCING ASTRONAUT (September 9, 2013)

27) Ken Capobianco. David Guetta, ‘Nothing but the Beat’, THE BOSTON GLOBE, (August 29, 2011)

28) Lauren Lipsay. Swedish House Mafia Brings the Party to Madison Square Garden, ROLLING STONE (December 17,2011)


30)Yolanda Be Cool – A Baru In New York ft. Gurrumul (Flume Reix). LYFSTYL.

31) Richard Busch. Major Label Records as Dinosaurs? FORBES (March 27, 2012)

32) David Goldman. Music’s Lost Decade: Sales Cut in Half, CNN MONEY (February 3, 2010)

35) Michael Allyn Pote. MMashed-Up in Between: The delicate Balance of Artists’ Interests Lost Amidst the War on Copyright, 88 N.C.L Rev. 639, 665 (2010)

34) “Bio Nasshunter”.


36) Randall Roberts. Michaelangelo Matos discusses how electronic dance music got its wattage (May 1, 2015). LA TIMES.

37) Ryan Faughnder. SFX Entertainment CEO Robert Sillerman to take company private (May 26, 2015). LA TIMES.

38) SFX Entertainment About. SFX.

39) Mark Edelsberg. The Entire Daft Punk Set From Coachella May 2006. Youtube.


That Sounds Like a Crocodile Movie: EDM as a tactile bridge of cultures (30)

I’ve focused specifically on EDM development within the country of Sweden, and alluded to World Music 2.0 in earlier posts, but now I would like to take a look at how EDM can encompass and bridge more traditional forms of “world music” or “global sounds” i.e. from regions traditionally grouped into the genre by record labels.

In Dr. Boyer’s Global Sounds class we studied Deep Forest’s hit “Sweet Lullaby” – an electronic piece that samples Afunawa’s “Rorogwela.”

Deep Forest – Sweet Lullaby

Afunawa – “Rorogwela”

The piece was popularized in a viral Youtube video where Matt dances around the world to the song in the background:

One of my favorite songs from the past year is the Flume remix of “A Baru in New York.” I first heard the song in the Jeremy Jones snowboard film “Higher.” This song is similar to the Deep Forest “Sweet Lullaby” in many ways.

The original “A Baru in New York” is by Yolanda Be Cool featuring Gurrumul. Yolanda Be Cool is an Australian band (similar to EDM act Zed’s Dead in that the name is a reference to a scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction) (29) that is famous for their hit “We No Speak Americano.” Gurrumul contributes the indigenous musical elements to the song and “sense of history and dignitiy” characterists of Gurrumul’s music (30).

The Flume remix is considered an “important bridge between Indigenous and non Indigenous music” (30) and it adds electro-orchestral backing to the original track and introduces a dubstep-esque drop.

Yolanda Be Cool ft. Gurrumul – “A Baru in New York”

Flume – “A Baru In New York” (Flume Remix)

After hearing the remix, Gurrumul proclaimed that “it sounds like a crocodile movie” (30), clearly happy with the piece. This quote embodies so much of what EDM music has come to signify and represent: a tactile experience that blends emotions, feeling and connection. The remix also embodies how EDM music is able to bridge cultures and individuals through technology, remix and collaboration. Just like “Sweet Lullaby” was popularized through a viral Youtube video, I was introduced to the remix – and therefore the original and Gurrumul’s music – through a mainstream Snowboard movie which introduces a wide audience to sounds they might not have heard otherwise. Appadurai’s scapes lend themselves well to discussing this remix from the dissemination through the mediascapes to the bridging of cultures and ethnoscape.

Finally, this is a good example of a song that one might not immediately classify as EDM, but it certainly has the characteristic drop and it derives from dance-oriented styles (20).

Vi Sitter I Ventrilo Och Spelar DotA: Swedish Techno

So I have already posted about my obsession with Swedish Techno. And Basshunter has come up in other posts. But here is a more in depth look at the dance music coming out of the EDM hotbed of Sweden.

Sweden has historically dominated the Scandinavian music scene so perhaps its not surprising I assumed most of my music was in Swedish. Once I started teaching myself Swedish I learned otherwise… Scandinavia, including Sweden, is often considered the bubblegum dance capital of the world. An example of this type of music is the hit “Butterfly” featured in the videogame Dance Dance Revolution (16). – “Butterfly”

Sweden is also one of top producers of bitpop and chiptune music (chiptunes are music for old game consoles like Game Boy or Amiga). This link between computers and EDM music in Sweden is a recurrent theme. For example Basshunter first became popular in computer centric culture in the mid 2000s, with his music then becoming popular internationally in 2005 and putting Swedish EDM in the international arena (16).

Here are two examples from my personal collection which exemplify the blend between bitpop/chiptunes and more conventional eurorave and EDM music.

Today, some of the biggest EDM producers hail from Sweden. Names like Avicii (Tim Berg), Hon Dahlback, Eric Prydz, Dada Life, Adrian Lux, Basshunter, Otto Knows, Alesso, Cazette, Icona Pop, Steerner, Tjernberg and Swedish House Mafia are know around the globe (16). While some people, myself included might refer to this collectively as Swedish Techno, no surprise given record shops will often have Swedish Techno sections consisting of a wide range of genres, (14) a specific Swedish subgenre of techno actually exists. It was made popular by artists like Henrik B and Adam Beyer’s (a techno scene pioneer in Sweden) (15) label Drumcode (16).

Adam Beyer – “Be Quiet”

Many consider Cari Lekebusch, Adam Beyer and Joel Mull to be representative of the Swedish subgenre. Their music was characterized by loops and compressed beats and percussive elements unlike German or US techno which emphasized staccato synths and raw bass lines (14). A good example of this “compressed” sound is Cari Lekebusch’s “De Sju Skenande Kompressorerna” which became known as the “Stolckholm Sound” (14), later known as “Swedish Techno Sound” (14).

Cari Lekebusch – “De Sju Skenande Kompressorerna

Noteably, women were missing from this scene – in part because of “gendered informal structures and hierarchies” (14). Moreover, for Swedish Techno as a whole, while it was successful internationally and commercially, it had a hard time in Stolckholm and Sweden as a scene because it was heavily policed by the authorities which “deemed it unacceptable” (14). This makes sense therefore that much of the music I have in my collection is from (presumably amateur) producers who shared their music with audiences via Youtube.

Today however, there is a thriving underground techno scene in Sweden featuring women performers. Some have compared this scene to the Chicago House scene 30 years ago where the music brought people together in a free space that promoted a sense of community regardless or gender, sexual orientation or race: “reminding everyone that we are all human and connected” (15).


Basshunter, real name Jonas Erik Altberg, is a singer-songwriter, producer and DJ who first began producing under the name Basshunter in 2001 using Fruity Loops Studio software. In 2006 he was signed with Extensive Music and released the hit single “Boten Anna” in 2006 which was released and re-recorded as the english language “Now You’re Gone” to appeal to global (American and English-speaking) audiences. The lyrics were entirely rewritten so that they were no longer about a female robot – typical of the nerdy computer themed Swedish lyrics of Basshunter’s music.

Additionally, his entire first studio album, LOL <(^^,)> which was released in 2006 through Warner Music, was released as a special international Christmas edition in December of 2006. It featured the same Swedish songs (but translated the names to English), switched up the track order, and included a bonus Christmas song “Jingle Bells” to appeal to the new audience. This is representative of how “global sounds” music is often changed in order to appeal to a mass western audience. Notably, the track titled “Sverige” (Sweden) was left off of the international edition (35).

As eluded to above, Basshunter is a self proclaimed computer nerd who got into EDM music production because of his interest in gaming. DotA, the hit song that was so influential in my discovery of EDM music, is a song about playing the videogame Warcraft III. The songs full title is “Vi Sitter I Ventrilo Och Spela DotA” (“We’re seitting in Ventrilo playing DotA” but has been shortened to DotA in many countries. Similar to World Music 2.0 and DotA is actually the legacy of an earlier French track titled “Daddy DJ” performed by the eponymous DJ (35). DotA is a remix of “Daddy DJ” which incorporates samples from the World of Warcaft III game and includes lyrics about using the chat program Ventrilo while playing the game (35). This is a good example of how EDM is ingrained in remixes and sampling, especially in the context of my own (albeit non-EDM) interpretation of the song on guitar.

Daddy DJ Version

Basshunter Version

My Version

Further, following the trend of making the original “global music” version of Basshunter’s “DotA” (global in this case, in that it’s in Swedish language) more accessible to an American and english-speaking audience, the track was released with newly written lyrics (just like “Now You’re Gone”) and released as “All I Ever Wanted.” All I Ever Wanted and Now You’re Gone were both featured on Basshunter’s 2007 album “Now You’re Gone – The Album” which went platinum in the UK and hit number 1 on the album charts. The album was an english remake of the earlier LOL <(^^,)> album.

Legal Issues and EDM: Sample Clearance and Anti-Rave Ordinances

An outdated copyright system and the prominence of remixing and sampling could become a problem for the EDM industry, especially if record labels try to glean revenue from sampling fees (6).

Most EDM music played by an artist during his or her set is not original, but rather a series of remixes and samples of other artists’ work. For example, the EDM group Cash Cash typically plays remixes for 70% of their set despite a successful discography of original productions (6).

In order for a remix to be legal, an artist must clear the samples or original tracks that are being used. These originals belong to the original artist under the Copyright Act of 1976. Moreover the act gives the original creator (the copyright holder) exclusive rights to all derivative works (which would include a remix or anything else which uses the original (17). If the sampling artist doesn’t get permission to create a remix or use the sample, then it is technically copyright infringement (6).

In order to get clearance, the sampling artist needs to negotitate with the copyright holder to use the sample at an agreed upon price. This creates an issue since the copyright holder can refuse to clear the rights and additionally, can choose to set an exorbitantly high price that might prevent newer artists or artists without financial means from sampling the track (6).

Still, the EDM industry is “lax” (6) when it comes to sample clearance and most artists don’t bother to get samples cleared. Again, this could become an industry wide problem is record companies start trying to seek revenues.

One potential solution to this problem is the concept of Creative Commons, promoted in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, one of the most cited law professors in the world and also a major proponent of remixes (35). The idea behind creative commons is that artists can distribute their works through the organization of Creative Commons, which assigns the artists a creative commons license. The artist can choose which rights of the license to waive. By waiving rights, this could help artists worldwide sample the music for free. As of 2008, more than 130 million creative works have been licensed under this system.

Building off of this concept, it has been proposed that an EDM specific model could be even more beneficial. Essentially, it can be thought of the Beatport of sample clearance: an online community and database where information on sample clearance exists so DJs know what they can use and can also give permission to other to use their works (35).

Finally, during the 80s and 90s the EDM industry faced a unique issue: “anti rave laws.” Most famously, the “anti-rave” ordinance in Chicago banned any unlicenseded dance parties. This was in order to combat drugs and partying associated with the rave scene. The fines were significant for holding an unregistered event (20).

The Market for EDM

The EDM industry was estimated at ~$4.5 billion according to CNN in 2012 (18). The genre hasn’t always been popular or profitable but as EDM has grown in popularity it has drawn interest from investors (6).

One particularly profitable area is festivals, with tickets generally starting at $30 (20). In fact, Rob Sillerman, the CEO of SFX Entertainment – what is now essentially a monopoly of the EDM industry – built his business model around festivals. SFX was started in 2012 by Sillerman, who amassed a fortune in radio before entering the live music space, in order to capitalize on the booming live event and festival sector of the EDM market. SFX has successfully rolled-up festivals and consolidated the industry. They promote major festivals like Electric Zoo, Mysteryland and Tomorrowland. SFX also owns Beatport, a platform for DJs and EDM fans through which you can stream EDM music. Today the company is valued at ~490 million (37).

Nevertheless, despite SFX’s success in consolidating the industry, they have posted losses recently and after going public two years ago, are looking to become private. While poor business is telling of the entire music industry, the publicity crises SFX has been having are also reminiscent of the social stigma issue EDM has faced since its rave days. In 2014, Sillerman put the company under media scrutiny after photos emerged of him online exiting an airplane naked and he then proceeded to curse at journalists on a press conference call (37).

Despite some issues related to its “colorful” CEO’s behavior, and also some drug related incidents at festivals it owns, according to its mission statement, SFX tries to promote EDM as a “global generational movement driven by a rapidly developing community of avid followers among the millennial generation”(38).

The Recording Industry Association of America shows that music sales have dropped to 8.3 billion dollars in 2009 from a whomping 14.6 billion in 1999 (32) In With the music business as a whole struggling, many companies are looking at the massive growth within EDM as a potential source of new revenues (31). Besides festivals, one potential revenue stream is sampling. While the genre currently promotes free sampling and remixing, the industry might crack down and try to charge fees (potentially exorbitant) to artists who want to sample or remix content under their copyright. This would be similar to a trend in the 1980s where record labels cracked down on sampling within hip-hop music, making the genre profitable (6).

The EDM market is paving the way for the rest of the music industry. Traditionally, EDM music has been consumed as singles. Of course, the trend towards singles in other genres like pop is also related to itunes and the sale of digital music. However, at the heart of EDM has always been the methodology of “a track at a time” (36). Artists would “throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks” (36) which is a methodology that has made its way into pop music changing the way both dance and pop music are consumed and sold (36).

Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.

Although EDM has its roots in nightclub and festival performances all over the world, EDM has become almost synonymous with raves (6). Oftentimes, the term rave is used incorrectly to refer to any nightclub party or EDM festival. But unlike major festivals today, “real” raves were illegal and held at private venues (20). Raves and EDM music in general were commonly associated with the drug ecstasy and illegal behavior (6).

In the United States, ex-pat Brits brought the UK and European rave culture over to the states, spreading it in Southern California. Previously, rave culture was hindered in the US by anti-drug and anti-rave laws. This new Southern California rave culture then spread throughout all of California, aided by Hyperreal, a Silicon Valley advancement which enabled ravers to communicate with each other and announce rave locations and dates (36).

At these raves, people would come to dance the night away and chose to wear stretchy and shiny spandex and lycra clothing which lent well to dancing. The colors and headbands sported by many California rave goers were reminiscent of the hippie look of the 1960s and embodied the free spirit of the EDM and California computer movements. In other regional rave scenes, different locally significant fashion trends emerged. For example, in London people would sport white gloves and chemical protection masks. Theses styles were similar to David Bowie and other rock musicians of the time (1).

By the 90s, the term rave came to encompass any indoor or outdoor dance music event. In fact, EDM artists had started to perform at traditional music festivals performing either a mix or in some cases, a live set (20).

While EDM used to be heard mainly in dance clubs or at raves, today dedicated EDM festivals have become a major venue for EDM music. Some festivals include Ultra Music Festival, Tommorowland and Electric Daisy Carnival. In 2012 Miami’s Ultra had over 165,000 attendees and tickets sold anywhere from $150 to upwards of $850 (6). These festivals are trying to shed, to mixed success, the association with ecstasy and drugs, instead focusing on new and innovative artists. They still struggle with incidents each year, oftentimes drug-related deaths or injuries at the event. However as innovative artists become the focus of EDM and EDM’s growth, the festivals are also trying to create a public image tied to innovation and artists (6).

Technology, the Role of the DJ, and Changing Production

In the 1980s, EDM music was created using electronic instruments such as sequencers, synthesizers and drum machines. Popular models of synthesizers included the Yamaha DX7, Korg M1 and Roland’s Jupiter and SH-101 (20). Then the advent of MIDI interface technology enabled EDM artists to turn their personal computer into a sequencer that could be used to control instruments. Across the entire music industry, by the mid 1990s, computers had largely replaced dedicated recording and editing equipment in recording studios, creating a simpler interface (20). Finally, by the early 2000s, audio synthesis and sound manipulation software allowed for “bedroom EDM studios” which were capable of sequencing, sampling and creating synthesizers, effects and multitrack recordings with only a computer. This made production and remixing much more accessible as you no longer needed large amounts of expensive equipment (20).

Indeed, just like the World Music 2.0 phenomenon, accessible music production software and the emergence of the internet and social web have facilitated subgenres of EDM and helped to bring together the entire genre of EDM online. In fact, World Music 2.0 includes genres and subgenres like Moombatoon that are encompassed by the genere EDM (3). Young EDM producers are not trying to make profits but rather to create something new and blend existing music genres. Just like kids uploading Melbourne Shuffle videos to Youtube they are not trying to engage in illegal activity. (3)

Technology – and more specifically the rise of the internet – has also helped bring together people in order to hear EDM music. As the internet grew the rave scene in Southern California grew, too, since hardcore EDM fans were connected online. Through Hyperreal, a list-serve platform creaed by LA native Brian Behlendorf, these fans were able to share news about upcoming raves (36).

Additionally, the changing role of the DJ influenced how EDM has been produced over the years. In the 70s clubs would occassionaly hire a live artist to perform but most of the time when people went out to dance they would dance to a DJ. Pioneering venues like Paradise Garage and Studio 54 in NYC and The Warehouse in Chicago however, hired DJs every night and had a sound system set up specifically catered to DJs, not live acts (20). At this time, unlike a rock concert which features mostly original material, DJs were mostly spinning existing material written by others. Ocassionally they would add a creative touch but mostly they were just mixing together unoriginal content (26)

Soon, club goers came to appreciate the talent of a DJ and his or her ability to keep the club dancing. As DJs gained popularity they began to introduce their own material, which led to remixes. This happened as the DJ would try to match the beat and keep a song going by adding more elaborate creative touches on top than they would in the 80s (20). Then, building off of this momentum, DJs began to seek out artists and singers to create material. One such example is the remix of Suzanne Vega’s hit “Tom’s Diner” by DJs DNA and Jellybean Benitez. In this track they used early Madonna demos to add a creative touch (20). By the 90s, DJs had become producers as well, not only creating remixes, but creating their own original material. Through production, DJs could form an identity (6).

Indeed, as the role of the DJ changed so did the way EDM music was produced. It was no longer just a mix played at a show – audience started wanting recording of DJ sets. These early recordings were usually of poor quality since they were recorded using commercial tape player, but they enabled the artists to make a bit of money. Eventually, as demand continued to increase, nightclubs began to produce high-quality recordings of DJ sets. Venues like Ministry of Sound, Limelight and Groove Jet produced and sold in record stores across the country of full DJ sets (20), marking an important change in how EDM music was produced and consumed.