The notion of electronic music as a single genre is growing obsolete. “EDM” is now a vague, umbrella term whose margins encapsulate a range of musical styles wider than any other genre. Its amorphous nature is due in part to the genre’s heavy reliance on production and performance technology, such as synthesizers and computer software. As this technology evolves, so does the genre.
Some would argue that the culture surrounding electronic music is the defining quality of the genre. It’s not about what you’re listening to; it’s about where you find it and who else has access to it. As sub-genres spawn on a daily basis, maintaining the pace of the genre’s evolution becomes a critical way of participating in the culture it fosters. Tasteful curation walks in tandem with credibility, and characteristics like “rare” or “exclusive” are fundamental touchstones to the genre.
While sites like Spotify and Apple Music have capitalized on the Internet’s streaming services, other independent outlets have emerged as well, where obscure DJs and local musicians have an opportunity to share their content through internationally-broadcasting channels.
The Toronto Radio Project is an independently founded radio project that was brought to life by Frazer Lavender in November 2014. It features several programs produced by local DJs and music collectives such as “Work In Progress,” an all-female programme hosted by Cindy Li. Boasting that “Toronto is the pulse of this station,” TRP is licensed to play by SOCAN, which means that the legally broadcasted material pays out royalties to the artists with airtime.
Boiler Room began in England and distinguished itself for its presentation of London’s underground music scene. Its preference is electronic music, but programming has diversified since, and now includes hip-hop, jazz, classical, and world music. The outlet is a unique platform that hosts intimate live music sessions with an invite-only audience in private locations. The performances are streamed live on their website, and audio tracks of the performances are available for download. The globe-spanning outlet has been called “one of the most important broadcasters in underground music” and holds 1.5 million active subscribers.
NTS Radio is an online broadcast station that features guest DJs and resident mixes from various spearheads within the electronic music community. It serves the online community through the pride it takes in diversity. The founder, Femi Adeyemi, is one of the original members of the Boiler Room series. In a similar vein, he sought to create a radio station for a global audience whose tastes were more experimental than commercial radio.
Broadcast weekly by BBC Radio 1, the Essential Mix is hosted by Pete Tong. It showcases an uninterrupted, two-hour mix from a variety of electronic artists who are hand selected each week. Those who are given the honour of creating a mix are of great cultural relevance within the electronic community, as the show is one of the longest-running programs in the current BBC Radio 1 schedule. Its influence has significantly contributed to the popularization of dance music from the UK. The program has charted the development of the various genres since its onset in 1993 and is highly regarded today among enthusiasts and industry heavyweights alike.
The outlet reigns as one of the most prominent media figures within the electronic music industry. The platform’s community spans Europe, North America, and Australia, and curates content from these localisations respectively. Bearing the seal of RA’s approval often propels the emerging artist onto a mainstream trajectory as a result of the outlet’s readership and various esteemed industry figures who consult with the magazine’s opinion. Members of the RA team have been featured as members of the jury for BBC’s Essential Mix of the Year. The website conveniently manages services that include event listings, ticket sales, club and promoter directories, artist and record label profiles, DJ charts, an online community, and most importantly, the RA Podcast.