A little more than a year ago, music site Do Androids Dance published an article entitled '5 Reasons Why You Should Call It EDM'. Despite the article's good intentions, the five reasons why the term should be applauded summed up entirely to "it could be worse" and "it's easier than doing research." While I applaud the site for at least trying to justify using the acronym, its reasons for using the term are symptomatic of much of what long-time electronic music fans are touting as what's wrong with the scene: electronic music newbies uncouthly and blindly jumping into a whole world of music with a phrase that no one who listened to electronic music pre-2010 would ever use.

That being said, many of the anti-EDM explanations are at least as bad as the pro-EDM ones. Take this one, for example, which goes as far as insulting the critically-acclaimed Basement Jaxx and talking in an abrasive tone which, rather than help foster discussion, seems targeted at people who already agree with the article. Or this one, which is written so aggressively that anyone looking for any sort of balanced or fair writing almost certainly won't glean anything positive from it.

Here at The 405, we like to think that we can use our writing as a platform for nuanced, constructive discussion. As such, this article is an attempt to describe in detail why, exactly, so many consider the acronym "EDM" so heinous. It is written by a product of the EDM generation in America for other electronic music newbies, and aims to educate rather than ignite. This article is intended first and foremost to address those who would substitute "EDM" for "electronic music" freely, but it also tries to argue that even used only to reference a few genres it can be toxic. In the spirit of the well-meaning, but poorly-concepted article from Do Androids Dance, here are five reasons you shouldn't call it EDM.


1. It represents corporate interests instead of musical ones.

It's pretty clear at this point that the major labels and radio stations promoting the so-called "EDM revolution" are very much interested in profit above all else. SFX Entertainment, currently attempting to buy up everything even vaguely EDM-related (major properties include Beatport and Electric Zoo), has predicted a total net income of $40 million in 2014, proving that EDM is big money. With so much potential for profit, it's clear that corporations of SFX's ilk benefit greatly from the coining of a term like "EDM" to, as Interscope A&R man Dave Rene puts it, "make it easy for people who don't understand dance music." EDM as a phrase isn't rooted in the music - it's rooted in marketing. Using a buzzword that is used specifically and unambiguously to sell downloads to describe any sort of music attempting to be taken seriously, therefore, is unhelpful to the music's cause.


2. It betrays a lack of experience with electronic music.

People have been referring to certain (usually four-on-the-floor) styles of electronic music as "electronic dance music" almost since the inception of Detroit techno and Chicago house, but the acronym EDM is much newer. Its first recorded uses popped up in 2010, well after the huge system of roots in the electronic music scene had spread globally and changed the lives of millions. As such, people who refer to the music as EDM are almost universally products of the marketing campaign that kicked off mainstream American awareness of an arguably very watered-down combination of modern electro, pop melodies and chords, and parts of mainstream hip-hop. Not only that, but those people are also usually totally unaware that electronic music spans deeper than single-note drops, a blitzkrieg of wobbles, and the occasional "deep" Monstercat release. Obviously, the stereotype doesn't always hold true, but by and large those exposed to long-time fans and artists over a significant period of time will stop calling it EDM after a while, leaving only the newer and more poorly educated listeners in the group.


3. It harmfully and needlessly homogenizes dissimilar styles.

Kathryn Frazier, leader of Biz 3 publicity (the agency which represents Skrillex, among other big-name artists), has said that the term "EDM" is something which came into popularity because "media like to have something to wrap things up with, and EDM is a very convenient tool for them to wrap up a very large world." Obviously, it can be nice to fall back on such an acronym for convenience's sake, but doing so mashes together whole worlds of music. Especially if it's used to refer to everything from Aphex Twin to DJ Sprinkles to Amon Tobin, it's a cop-out of sorts, revealing a lack of research to see what others have used to define a style or specific sound. Not only that, but it's often used in place of the even broader, more critically acceptable, and usually more accurate "electronic music."

Terms like "electronic music" already exist, cross-referenced and backed up by thousands of well-respected and well-written publications and artists across decades and continents. "EDM," on the other hand, finds its primary usage in sales pitches, YouTube comments, and poorly-written, uneducated blogs with surface-scratching "reporting" at best. Though I don't condone the elitist culture of turning up one's nose at the mention of EDM as a blanket solution to cover a multitude of genres which are as different as folk and thrash metal, I do think that part of what makes electronic music so wonderful is the mind-boggling variety of sounds computers, samplers, and drum machines can produce, and mushing them all together under the banner of a term with so many negative connotations is dangerous.


4. Its roots are inextricably linked with cultural appropriation.

Terre Thaemlitz, a vocal advocate for the diversity and awareness of the house scene in America, once described exactly this while talking about her opposition to Madonna's 'Vogue': "[It's] not that it was 'inauthentic', but that its terms of discourse misrepresented its relationship to vogueing by actively erasing the very contexts of Latina and African-American transgendered culture that inspired it (via lyrics about "It makes no difference if you're black or white, a boy or a girl"... it totally made a difference, and that social reality is where any real discussion on vogueing begins.)" Similarly, EDM culture has all but erased the roots of American electronic music from its own history.

The culture of electronic music arguably existed initially to provide a safe space for queer black people living in hugely racist, homophobic, and transphobic cities like Chicago and New York, dancing to socially-shunned styles like disco for hours to be with like-minded people and escape from the crushing hatred of "normal" society for a while. EDM, on the other hand, is an extravagant display of white straight men making money off of white straight people dancing to music played and produced by white straight men. It runs so contrary to the initial nigh-utopian society in which electronic music was incubated that it's almost shocking to see the lack of knowledge and understanding the average fan has about not only the start of the initial movement but also how the current state of affairs reflects (or doesn't reflect) the thousands of founders' intents. "PLUR" used to actually mean something, but now it stands as a hollow buzzword.


5. It associates you with these people, whether you like it or not.

Though I can't resist poking a little fun at people who wear shirts saying things like "KEEP CALM AND #PLUR ON," backwards-ballcap, Molly-popping fans at expensive festivals almost all use the term "EDM". This means that no matter who is supporting the acronym, he or she will inexorably be linked in others' minds with these people. There are two solutions to this issue: either legitimize discussion around EDM (and though I am unwilling to front this movement I would wholeheartedly support it), or stop using the acronym altogether. As long as Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowworld are still running, the unattractive reality of poorly-informed, drug-addled bros fist-pumping to Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike will continue to exist, and that kind of misguided hedonism is something to which many people irrevocably attach "EDM". Until a change in mindset occurs, the term "EDM" is best avoided.