In August, EDM.com ran a questionnaire to EDM fans on their preferences, event attendance habits and festival travel behaviors. We surveyed almost 1,400 readers, 70% of which were based in the United States. And the results were fascinating. This is the first of a 5-part series on the findings.
Electronic dance music has evolved into a wide range of subgenres since its expansion in the digital age. As music fans explore EDM's versatility, they tend to find a few niches on the dance floor that tingle their ear drums.
To navigate through the spectrum, we asked our audience, “What EDM genres do you like?” According to the survey, it turns out the most popular genre in the United States is trap, with 68% of the respondents saying that they enjoy the genre. Categorized by its hip hop influences and popularized by artists like Baauer, Diplo and RL Grime, trap has been dominating American dance floors since around 2012 when Atlanta producers stripped the rap vocals and added rhythmic drops. Trap is not only popular in America, but has also spread to the international stage – including the international respondents, 60% of the EDM.com audience responded that they enjoy trap, making it the third most popular genre overall.
For the past few of years, there has been much debate regarding whether or not “dubstep is dead.” Skrillex popularized the contemporary dubstep sounds of today, but as he moved on to revolutionize other genres, many say that the dubstep has stopped evolving. So, is it a dying genre? There’s no better way to settle the argument than hard data, and the data says that dubstep is very much alive. 67% of US respondents enjoy the genre (62% globally), making it the second most popular EDM genre in the United States and also with our global audience.
The third most popular genre is electro house, with 63% of the respondents saying that they enjoy this genre the most (65% internationally, making it the most popular genre globally).
Electro house is followed by deep house (62%) and trance (54%) in popularity in the United States. Deep house is a genre that is a relatively recent arrival to the popular American EDM scene, while on the other hand, trance has maintained a stable, loyal following in the States for years.
Surprisingly, big room house, or mainstage festival type music, is only 10th on the list of EDM listeners’ preferences in the US.
Furthermore, what’s really interesting is the variety of genres fans enjoy within electronic dance music. The typical EDM fan enjoys an average of 7 genres out of the 15 genres listed in the survey. This shows that EDM fans are musically expansive individuals that are conscious of differences styles within EDM and are open to exploring new sounds.
EDM fans' music preferences vary by region in the US, with the top three genres being trap, electro house and dubstep typically occupying the top positions. One exception is in the West, where deep house beats out the big 3 of American EDM as the most popular genre.
In terms of strongholds for niche genres, the South has the highest percentage of trance fans (62% of respondents). Drum & bass is the biggest in the Midwest (56%).
Given that hardstyle events by Q-Dance and Basscon (Insomniac’s hard dance division) are typically held in California, you’d think that the West is the home base for hardstyle, however, our results show that the harder styles are most popular in the South (46%) and Midwest (45%).
Glitch hop, though a genre only enjoyed by 23% of the US audience, is significantly more popular in the Midwest, with 32% of respondents favoring the genre.
Digesting these results, it is also important to keep in mind that since there are so many genres of EDM, many of which are rapidly emerging or evolving, the understanding of a genre varies among fans. Genres are also deliberately confused as lines are constantly blurred by artists that experiment with new sounds.