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The Comprehensive Beginners Guide to EDM Genres and Sub-Genres

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.

When you first immerse yourself in electronic music culture, it can be difficult to decipher the difference between styles. I can recall attending my first Paradiso in 2013 on a whim because my friends were going. I didn’t know any of the artists, songs, or anything about EDM in general. My first ever experience with electronic music prior to Diso was Excision’s “The Executioner Tour” earlier that year, so you could say my knowledge of genres was little to none.

Even when I began to attend festivals more regularly, I still had a difficult time deciphering between artistic styles. It took several years and a lot of listening to figure out the subtle differences in genres and sub-genres. This is not an uncommon thing, but it can make things challenging as an EDM novice when learning about the differences in styles.

Following are curated descriptions of some of the most common genres and sub-genres you’ll hear. There are WAY too many to list and it’s growing all of the time, so don’t allow this to limit you to all the other possibilities. Plus, most artists do not want to simply fit in one genre, but knowing their stylistic distinctions can further appreciation for their techniques.

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