Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is growing in popularity, leading to an increase in the number of people attending EDM concerts, festivals and, for the hardcore fans, EDM cruises.
Its popularity has even led to some individuals reporting that they are addicted to EDM.
But what is it about this genre of music that makes it addictive? From the formulaic structure and the wide availability of EDM music to the strong sense of community within the fanbase, this piece will explore the addictive nature of EDM.
The formulaic structure
For fans of the genre, EDM songs are interesting and fun to listen to for hours on end, especially as many are 10 minutes long (and oftentimes even longer). In order to ensure the music isn’t flat or boring, EDM artists attempt to create a compelling flow that keeps the music exciting. They achieve this through their formulaic and dynamic structure, filling the music with ups and downs and with multiple build-ups and “drops”.
This “drop” in EDM is a term used to refer to a part of the song that is the most exciting or pleasurable, which appears after a build-up. This build-up creates tension and guides the listeners towards the drop – usually a sudden change in rhythm or bass line – and once this drop occurs, the listeners feel some kind of release. It is often a satisfying and addictive feeling for those listening, and it tends to be followed by a dynamic piece that makes the crowds go crazy.
The sequence of expecting, anticipating and craving the drop, followed by the pleasure when it occurs, all contributes to the addictive nature of EDM. The desire for the “drop” in EDM songs is believed to be processed in the same brain region as other cravings.
This includes cravings associated with other addictions like substance abuse, eating disorders and behavioral addictions like problem gambling. However, whereas these addictions can have a negative impact on human lives – gambling disorder, for example, can lead to self-destructive behavior, according to this source – an addiction to EDM shouldn’t cause harm.
The wide availability of EDM
Those listening to EDM may seek to experience the release of dopamine that occurs during the drop as frequently as possible and in different ways, keeping the feeling exciting and pleasurable. Luckily for listeners, many EDM creators use the drop as a way of adding a unique characteristic to their work, giving their music a personalised identity, and keeping variety within the EDM scene.
With numerous platforms to publish music on, and a surge of new artists flooding the EDM scene, the access to EDM tracks is skyrocketing, and the availability of EDM songs, both old and new, is unlimited. The genre itself is a blanket term, and has evolved into a complex realm of different styles, leading to an endless number of sub genres. This means that there is likely a song or artist to suit every musical taste, which enables individuals with diverse preferences to enjoy the genre.
This abundance of sub genres, songs, and the ease of accessing a constantly updating selection of tracks may facilitate the possibility of developing an addiction to EDM.
The EDM community
On top of the nature of the formulaic structure and craving for the drop, the welcoming and vast community of the EDM scene may further the potential for addiction to the genre. EDM concerts and festivals, and even the cruises, often have the sense of community at the heart of them, with the social element making them popular events.
There is also often a focus on PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity and Respect) at EDM events, which only enhances this community feel even more. PLUR, which is embraced by many EDM participants, followers the idea that everyone is welcome, loved and respected within the community, regardless of age, sex or origin. This inclusive and accepting atmosphere is something that makes the EDM world unique and special.
The sense of belonging and acceptance may be something that people may be lacking in other areas of their lives, and the EDM community can offer an escape and a safe space to meet people and make friends on a common ground.