The Rise of EDM in Mainstream Media

By Staff Writer Roxy Hepburn [rhepburn@umassd.edu]

EDM, or electronic dance music, is a genre that has mostly sat on the sidelines of popular culture. However, has social media changed that? As new social media and gaming platforms take over the lives of millions of people, music trends are evolving to fit their new needs. 

EDM is an ever-expanding field of music with countless subgenres to its name. Some of these subgenres include dubstep, future bass, house, drum & bass, riddim, hardstyle, and trance. Electronic music incorporates the use of computerized percussive sounds brought together to form beats, rhythms, and melodies that sometimes include lyrics. EDM has formed a unique culture around their festivals and concerts, which are known as raves. Rave culture centers heavily around PLUR. Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. Those deeply entrenched in the EDM and rave community know the love and dedication that comes out of the artists and into their music. 

(youredm.com)

The introduction of EDM into mainstream media began with the collaboration between the ever-popular multi-platform video game Fortnite and EDM artist Marshmello in February of 2019. Fortnite featured Marshmello in an online/in-game concert that was coveted as “the game’s biggest event ever,” according to The Verge. This collaboration created a significant boost in media coverage for Marshmello, surging him and electronic music into the mainstream. Google Trends demonstrates an enormous increase in searches for Marshmello starting in early February, which directly correlates with his collaboration with Fortnite. 

Another significant contributor to the introduction of electronic music into the mainstream is Shaquille O’Neal or DJ Desiel. In 2016, The now-retired basketball player set aside rap music to start producing EDM; however, it was not until 2019 that he started to find his rhythm in the genre. When Shaq began producing electronic music, hip-hop and basketball fans gave EDM a try just because a celebrity they adore did the same. Shaq created a new wave of listeners among the EDM community with a legion of fans behind him. Shaq has begun head-lining large EDM festivals such as TomorrowWorld, demonstrating that he has truly made a name for himself in the EDM community. He was quoted on performing at TomorrowWorld by FanBuzz: “To be honest, I didn’t really appreciate and understand the depths of electronic music until [attending TomorrowWorld],” O’Neal told EDM.com. “Being there revitalized a sense of urgency and passion inside of me that I’ve been craving since dunking on a defender’s head in the postseason.” Electronic music is a rising industry that can truly excite all those who participate in enjoying the genre (including those producing the music), and mainstream media is starting to realize that as well. 

(orlandoweekly.com)

While some musicians are transitioning from one genre to another like Shaq, others like Krewella like to flip-flop and blend genres. Krewella is a team of two women,  Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf, and their producer, Kris Trindl, who met/formed the group during high school. The group focuses on producing EDM music that draws on other genres like rap, trap, and pop. Most of their music favors specific genres that blend in with others seamlessly. In contrast, other songs by Krewella focus on one specific genre. Their song, “Goddess,” is an example of their blending of rap into EDM music. There is a particular beat and sequence to the song’s lyrics that are unique to rap music. However, the instrumentals are that of more classic electronic music. Krewella can draw fans in through viral songs that fit more into popular genres and keep them interested and coming back for more with the electronic inclusions in their music. 

The social media platform Tiktok has its own stake in the influence of EDM on mainstream media. There is a large subset of Tiktok known as “ravetok,” where creators will spread awareness on what raves are, what people wear to raves, and how to stay safe at raves. One influential creator on “ravetok” is rave.witch. She describes herself as a “witch bitch” and a “makeup and flow artist,” as well as “audiotistic.” Rave.witch creates content centering around raves, rave outfits, and flow art (a style of movement art done with light-up hula hoops or staffs). As “ravetok” content such as rave.witch’s becomes viral, it creates a space for EDM education on the FYP (for you page) of TikTok. This allows people who never would have been exposed to electronic music to do so casually. 

Electronic music is getting attention from all sides of mainstream media as the music genre rises into relevancy. I heavily implore you to take some time and listen to electronic music, here is my own personal EDM Spotify playlist to help broaden your range of the genre.

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