EDM & The Amsterdam Dance Event: How The Netherlands Listens


The Electronic Dance Music genre has been with us for decades, but it has more loyal fans over the world than ever before, influencing pop music at large while drawing more and more people to live events.

This week, legions of EDM enthusiasts will be sucked into the vortex that is The Amsterdam Dance Event, a music festival and conference  billed as “the biggest club festival in the world,” and to be held this year in over 300 events from over 2,000 DJs, at 121 pulsating venues throughout Amsterdam.

Electronic Dance Music is big everywhere, but especially in some of the larger metropolitan hubs of Europe, including of course The Netherlands. In celebration of its Amsterdam Dance Event, let’s take a look at how the Dutch listen to music. As it turns out, their listening habits reveal Amsterdam to be just about the perfect place to hold a festival like this.

The following 100 tracks are distinctive to The Netherlands, based on the last month of listening*. That means that people in that country listen to these song s disproportionately a lot, relative to people in other countries. To figure this out, data alchemist Glenn McDonald of The Echo Nest at Spotify ranked the music each country listens to, and then flipped that against the reverse rankings from all of the other countries where Spotify is (58 countries in total), to see what outliers pop out. This distinctive music arguably tells us more about how a country listens than by just looking at the hits, because in today’s global music scene, hits can be hits everywhere.

Here are the 100 most distinctive songs to The Netherlands, a.k.a. The Sound of The Netherlands.


We’re hearing a lot of EDM in that list  — over a third of these distinctively Dutch tracks sound like EDM (listen here). Over half of the 50 most distinctive tracks to The Netherlands are EDM, as are 9 of the top 10. On top of that, many of the other tracks borrow sonic elements from the genre. And so we were curious, who are the top DJs of all time in The Netherlands, amongst these EDM-listening folks? They are:

  1. Avicii
  2. David Guetta
  3. Calvin Harris
  4. Armin van Buuren
  5. Afrojack

More on how the Dutch listen: Out of 58 countries with Spotify, The Netherlands are 5th in distinctively listening to the most mechanized (low-organic) music worldwide, behind Germany, Lithuania, Guatemala, and (just barely) Ecuador. Glenn McDonald explains the difference between “organic” and “mechanized” music:

“High organicness means more acoustic instrumentation and more human tempo fluctuations (think sumptuous, fluttery harp music), and low organicness [i.e. mechanized] means more electric and more click-tracky (think relentlessly pounding techno).”

The above two metrics show why Amsterdam is a great place to have an an electronic dance music festival.

We’d love to be able to say that the city had also spawned the most definitive EDM artists, but that was not the case, because this genre comes from all over the place. The cities with the highest percentage of definitive EDM artists, by our calculations, are Stockholm and Los Angeles, each with about with 7 percent (followed by London and Paris with around 5).

That’s not enough for any of these cities, or any other city for that matter, to lay justifiable claim to having created this particular genre. (By way of comparison, London originated more than 50 percent of definitive Grime artists, and so it can probably lay claim to that.)

As such, it’s clear that EDM is an internationally-created genre, with stars who hail from around the globe. It’s also quite popular, of course; out of the top 10 most-streamed artists of all time on Spotify, three are DJs: David Guetta (#3), Avicii (#5), and Calvin Harris (#7), all of whom have over 1 billion streams on Spotify.

So, who’s holding down the top spot in EDM today, globally? As of right now, Calvin Harris’ “Blame” is the most played track in the EDM genre.

And with that, let’s listen to the 10 most distinctive tracks to The Netherlands, nine of which are EDM:


The Amsterdam Dance Event runs from October 15 through October 20, and includes the festival, the conference, and the “playground,” which consists of “pop-up stores, hardware workshops and master classes… photography exhibitions, fine art, films and documentaries, all of which reflect the many faces of global dance culture.”

(Photo via AmsterdamDanceEvent.nl)

*This list consists of the most recent month of listening, updated twice per month.