The History of the Abbreviation/Acronym EDM (Electronic Dance Music)

From all my searching on the net there seems to be no conclusive evidence as to where the abbreviation “EDM” came from. I wanted to write a blog post on it as I find it rather curious as a brit who once lived in the USA..and nobody else seems to have bothered.

In the US, for the most part it was never acceptable to listen to Dance music, or indeed, any type of music that was deemed to be against the norm; instantly being labeled “Techno” and off-limits. The US media are mostly to blame for this, scanning through the radio channels you are greeted with Rock station after Rap station after Christian station after country station, it’s what most children will grow up listening to and hearing, the polar opposite to what a child in the UK is influenced by (another blog post I think would be required for that one). Recently (well, I say recently, we’re talking a progression over the last 6 years) things have been changing. A “new” sound entered the American scene pioneered in the UK; Dubstep. A sound that was able to finger its way across genres easily – it pulled in those fans from Rap and RnB being the right speed and temperament of a style (of course, Grime and Dubstep have always coexisted quite happily in the UK so it was a logical meeting of sounds). It pulled in those from more chart based fangroups as a more commercial side to dubstep found its feet (much to the irritation of “true” dubstep fans). It went on to pull in rock bands and due to its nature managed to squeeze its way on to the radio and into the charts. Gradually as other artists pulled their weight in the US it became the norm to hear Gaga’s latest dance track, Maroon 5’s latest dance track..Britneys latest track with that dubstep drop. A new world had opened up to US media and younger generation, even if they had already missed over 20 years of dance history.
Here is where my theory comes into practice – the American public were presented with a new problem, Dubstep, was technically “Techno” to them…and it was/is a social faux pas to be seen listening to anything that might be construed as “Techno”…Europe, and the rest of the world have been calling electronic music “Dance Music” for decades, dance music being a loose blanket term for most music that is electronically based. Somehow an idea was born, around about the time Dubstep became big that “EDM” was to be the new label.. Electronic Dance Music.
“omg, you’re listening to techno?”
“no, i’m listening to EDM”

So, is it totally assumption? granted some of it is from my experiences in the USA, but a little research into it and things do start to open up a bit:
Using google to find the earliest use of the abbreviation of EDM on a forum proves a little tricky as many of the results get stuck between dates that people joined forums and dates people posted on forums, along with results generally being out of date. Wikipedia and its previous edit history seems to be the only reliable source for first uses at the moment.

The abbreviation EDM doesn’t seem to come into use properly (if at all) till around 2005 (ish) or later in 2006…reading the revision articles on it on wiki are very interesting, the page was started around 2001, under the name “Electronic Dance” (no mention of EDM) it stayed that way till July 2006 the page was changed to “Electronic Dance Music” and less than two months later “EDM” as an abbreviation appeared

forgive my assumptions, but I feel that there were few American’s editing at that point as nobody in the UK or Europe would have written “electronic dance music has enjoyed popularity in many nightclubs, and, as of 2006, is the predominant type of music played in discothques as well as the rave scene” which appeared around the same time as the page being moved to “electronic dance music”.

Of course, Dance music in the UK has been the predominant form of music at clubs and raves since the late 80’s. Saying “2006” would actually tie in nicely with America’s *very* late acceptance of the music. Since then, looking through the revisions its been a battle between people trying to put it under “EDM” and people trying to keep it under “Dance music (electronic)” finally settling at its state now “EDM”

I still think that the dubstep craze there has something to do with dance music becoming more acceptable for the American public, check out the BOOM in dubstep articles from the time it was create through to 2006 onwards: anyway, by the looks of things that’s just a side product of what was becoming popular in clubs back in the states then. (assuming America caught on to our boom here around the same time)

anyway, bottom line *opinion* for me is that “Dance Music” and “Techno” were the two major generalisations that were prevalent until about 2006 – then EDM appears, in my opinion the only reason it appeared was a want or need to make dance music acceptable in the states and be rid of the “techno” stigma that was being used to look down on people who listened to dance music over there, coupled with the love of abbreviations “EDM” was new and cool. Dubstep was getting bigger, and dance music artists like Guetta, BEP and AVH were getting in with big pop stars..the only way to make it ok would be to make the genre cool to listen with an all american rebrand…right? Why else start calling it something other than the generalizations that were there before?

I’m down with EDM though, its technically more accurate, just sounds a little silly and possibly slightly self-important, as at least from “dance music” or “techno” you can make a good guess as to what someone’s on about instead of trying to baffle the person you’re talking to “edm”?

EDM has become used practically worldwide with seemingly the exception of the UK (granted, it seems to be occasionally used on forums by brits, but i’ve never heard it actually enter the language), on Radio One a canadian DJ was quoted, and the presenter actually had to comment “EDM being Electronic Dance Music” it sounded so silly, as Dance music is talked about on the radio constantly and the abbreviation sounded very out of place.


About RealityInfected

Music enthusiast with a few thoughts on the world and a few reviews to write.
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