Are 138/140/Steroid/Generic Uplfiting styles the most popular sub-genre of Trance in the scene right now?

Hensmon

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An unfortunate question to ask, but my own observation of the Trance scene sometimes makes me feel that some of the most disliked music on this forum might actually be the most popular and best selling generally. This is based on things like youtube views, beatport charts and the sheer quantity of producers choosing this style of Trance over others. The big labels play/release mostly this style and even places like reddit you can find substantial following and praise of tracks/styles I would not expect.

When I see a modern butchering of a classic or another poorly produced banger I think 'surely no one is enjoying, supporting or encouraging this!?'. But they keep on coming and those aforementioned numbers don't lie. Is this place just a complete disconnect from the rest of the scene? Is bias to my taste just preventing clear view? Maybe it's one of the most lucrative style in Trance right now and people all over the world are enjoying it, outside of Europe? What do you think?
 
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dmgtz96

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In non-pandemic times you would look at the set lists of trance festivals. Before COVID I bet most of them contained steroid trance.
The truth is, "steroid" trance has existed since the mid-to-late 2000s with early Sean Tyas, Selu Vibra - Divine, O'Callaghan & Kearney - Exactly, the Agnelli & Nelson remix of Big Sky, and so on. What you see right now and saw throughout the 2010s is the bastardization of that style.
Okay, enough of history.

What makes you think that people outside of Europe are the reason steroid trance is so popular? I would argue that steroid trance (and trance in general) is actually not that popular outside of Europe, at least not the faster-paced 138/140 bpm stuff. I would bet that listeners outside of Europe prefer the < 130 BPM Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep kind of releases.
 

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I think that because of internet/youtube/worldwide audience/ease of music purchase via downloads, a lot of labels are in it just for the money. They make commercial, easily accessible music under the banner of 'trance' for a sense of street cred. They target a young audience who don't know much or anything about trance.

Isn't the majority of the ASOT audience in the middle east and Asia now? I might be wrong but I don't think countries in those regions have ever had well developed underground scenes.

It would explain why Armin plays very commercial material on the show. I haven't seen him in clubs so don't know whether he would play the same and whether he truly prefers this style of music. But from a financial perspective it makes sense to play commercial, easily accessible material which sells. And I think a lot of mainstream trance labels/podcasts are doing the same thing, targeting a mass audience for a fast buck. I'm talking here about FSOE, Nocturnal Knights, etc.
 
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Gagi

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In my estimation, the majority of the tracks released are in that style, but the overall attention seems to be moving over to techno and prog, more and more. Revenue and plays could be due to marketing (like being played on ASOT) or bots. The style does probably generate a lot of short-term revenue/success for labels.

Moreover, I consider people who enjoy that style too much not true fans of the genre, since all they look for is short-term enjoyment, and those will quickly move on to other things. I'd say people truly passionate about trance will do more - share honest feedback, think about the bigger picture, get involved with the community etc - even if they like generic bangers. But maybe we should give them time either to move on or dig deeper. Still, there seems to be a constant stream of those who know nothing about trance and think this is it, or just enjoy it because they haven't heard anything better. I certainly think 99.9999% of tracks in that style from the past few years will get forgotten, even by their fans, for that matter.

The bias might be due to your taste, but a couple of us who post the most here are all in agreement. It certainly doesn't enjoy a lot of popularity here. Yes, most of the threads are generic bangers, but as we've learned, there's not much response to those - it only gets spat on if there are bigger names involved, and just glanced over if the producers are unknown. People who post those scarcely leave opinions, and even if they do, it's mostly just a couple of words like "enjoyed it/it's nice/pretty good" etc., so it's pretty easy to glance over that as well.
 
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TRANCEBLASTER

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Just let the kids have their fun...

Mainly 15-25 years old kids buy new music or go to parties/festivals, so most of the music/show is/are made for them. Yes, kids love energetic music and have fresh ears, nothing is really generic for them.

If you are in the scene for 10 or 15 years, things going to be more complicated. I have fallen into Trance with 'Lost In Love' and 'Milky Way' in 95/96 and I started to be really bored with the genre after 05/06. Trance after 2006 was just horrible, how could you all listen to it? Hahaha, so welcome in my shoes.
 

Gagi

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Just let the kids have their fun...

Mainly 15-25 years old kids buy new music or go to parties/festivals, so most of the music/show is/are made for them. Yes, kids love energetic music and have fresh ears, nothing is really generic for them.

If you are in the scene for 10 or 15 years, things going to be more complicated. I have fallen into Trance with 'Lost In Love' and 'Milky Way' in 95/96 and I started to be really bored with the genre after 05/06. Trance after 2006 was just horrible, how could you all listen to it? Hahaha, so welcome in my shoes.
I remember having my socks blown off by ASOT (label) releases up until 2006. Now I can just listen to a couple of outstanding ones. God forbid generic uplifting, I can't even listen to uplifting stuff anymore. It's just personal over-saturation. Good points.
 
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dmgtz96

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Isn't the majority of the ASOT audience in the middle east and Asia now? I might be wrong but I don't think countries in those regions have ever had well developed underground scenes.
Good point, I hadn't thought about the Middle East/Asia. I honestly don't know if people in India, China, Japan, Korea, etc. listen to steroid trance. Israel and Egypt have had trance scenes for a while, and FSOE is very much a steroid trance label.
 

Propeller

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I honestly don't know if people in India, China, Japan, Korea, etc. listen to steroid trance.
Well, that's where the majority of the world's population is, so it would make sense to target these regions. I really think that these labels are thinking globally and they're not thinking in terms of making good quality trance music.
True trance still exists of course, you just have to look beyond the mainstream guys. It's kind of in the underground where it was where it first started.
 
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Magnevi

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If I look at the amount of hobby producers who release dozens of template steroids on mini-labels.... I’d say steroid is indeed the most popular part of trance, by far. And I notice theres a big scene in eastern europe for it. They all support each other with podcasts nobody listens to, only to say “thsnks for support” as only reply on social media...

The steroid sound seems to be the hype that lasted the longest... cant wait to see it dusappear....
 
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sashamlenik

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It seems like we can talk about it forever. Maybe I'll repeat someone from the above. Everything is deplorable with trance at the present time, indeed. Everything is eaten by commerce. The quantity grows, the quality drops significantly. I can't disagree about FSOE, Nocturnal Knights, ASOT, etc. Basically, if I did threads with it, then for the publication of extremely exclusive material, with exclusive covers, previews, etc. Yes, most of all are steroid, but I rate on the exclusive. From time to time the same FSOE releasing some good material, but such a "miracle" can happen once a year or less. All of it is forgotten after a short time. Armada is now full of commerce. You can still find something good material on Black Hole and sub-labels. To be honest, it's hard to name a specific label which is releasing completely high-quality material. I don't know such one. As for the question, everything revolves around money. There are many new artists on the "trance" stage. Of course they will do what makes the money to be released on a big label and be noticed among the mass of "trance" fans. Such fans are around the world, they not limited by Europe and Asia. But we, who remember these times of a good trance, don't understand it. As well as "trance" beginners don't understand us. It's easier to impose modern musical trends for beginners. And it's deplorable.

P.S. Sorry for weak English
 
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Hensmon

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If I look at the amount of hobby producers who release dozens of template steroids on mini-labels

Actually this could be a good point on how the availability/saturation of certain template and presets styles could help drive that sub-style into dominance. Maybe there is a huge abundance of pre-made 138/140 template stuff available for the bedroom producers compared to the other genres? Thats just a guess. Maybe it easier to make compositionally too?

Mainly 15-25 years old kids buy new music or go to parties/festivals, so most of the music/show is/are made for them. Yes, kids love energetic music and have fresh ears, nothing is really generic for them.

So the implication is that 15-25 year olds are the biggest driving factor in the market, and that because they like more banging sounds (and are less critical), labels simply respond to where the money is and focus on that?
 
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Gagi

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Actually this could be a good point on how the availability/saturation of certain template and presets styles could help drive that sub-style into dominance. Maybe there is a huge abundance of pre-made 138/140 template stuff available for the bedroom producers compared to the other genres? Thats just a guess. Maybe it easier to make compositionally too?
Could be right. Creatively, it's the easiest because the drums, percussion, bassline, as well as the overall structure and arrangement are pretty much standardized. All you have to do is make a main melody - the pad melody follows the progression of it - and some random plucks and that's pretty much it, really. The presets exist for the synths which cover pretty much 100% of everything you'd need synth-wise, and sample packs take care of the drums and percussion (mainly via pre-made loops). And you don't need to be a genius composer, the melodies could be just like the basslines - note patterns which just have a progression (which also doesn't have to be elaborate).

I'd say progressive trance (even the Anjunafart stuff) is less accessible to newbies - and a lot of them just want instant success, so uplifting gives them easy access to what they think success is via presets/packs/tutorials.

Stuff like progressive relies more on atmospheres, vibes and there's at least some nuance to it, which is why it's not as easy to do tutorials that cover everything.
 
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Magnevi

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Maybe it easier
Well of course. I really believe the steroid-problem exists because it's the easiest subgenre to create.

Some popular steroid producers have their own sample packs and preset-packs: sean tyas, darren porter... and also guys like Temple One and Activa. Those latter ones might seem 'non-steroid', but they include those sounds as well. I personally have the Activa sample pack to inject some modernness in my own hobby projects. It contains ready to use modern perc loops, modern steroid kicks etc. If you want, there's even fully completed beat loops that contain everything: kick, hats, percs, everything in 1 loop. Insert in project > done.

The preset-packs contain ready to use rolling bass settings, so just pick one of the dozens available and you already have beats + bass.

The thing about the songwriting.... you know, a melody like Marcel Woods - Advanced is actually very difficult to pull off. While something like Andy Blueman would make, is much easier. Eventhough it may seem more complex. But since it's just chords played in a certain arpeggio rhythm, it's not that remarkable. Those arp-rhythms are available too in preset-packs. So then all you have to do is put some chords after one another. And guess what, software like Cubase has functions for that too. Click on a button and you'll hear a chord. You want chords that go nicely with that one? No problem, it's all here ready to implement in your track.

Not everyone is a GREAT songwriter, so not everybody delivers "good steroid music" like Andy Blueman did. He was good at "picking the chords", so to speak. (Plus, yes, his orchestral elements were always solid!). While most amateur producers are happy when it's in key.

The next problem is: labels. Just like everyone wants to be a succesful producer, everyone also wants to run a label. There's way too many of them. So all those average tracks get signed.

And since it's so easy: lots of producers just change the notes from A to B, make a different chord progression. A few elements changed, and hurray, another track ready. And that one will also get signed, no problem. For me it seems impossible to release > 30 (!) singles in a year. Specially since these are all people with full time jobs. Just realize: back in the past, Rank 1 just released 1 single (and some remixes) in a whole year. And that's Benno de Goeij we're talking about. A mastermind who makes music for a living.

Next problem: Listeners. Those tracks, average as they are, get PRAAAISSSEEDDDD as if it was the Trance Energy Theme 2002. Everyone is too kind to each other. I'm assuming a good portion of "listeners" are actually fellow producers who are friendly because of the "please follow me back" principle. Act nice, only because you hope to gain something from it. "thanks sooooo much for supporting my track on your podcast with 10 plays".

In the end it all comes to this: The desire of getting clicks, comments, plays, followers, likes, attention.... its wayyy too big.
 

TRANCEBLASTER

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So the implication is that 15-25 year olds are the biggest driving factor in the market, and that because they like more banging sounds (and are less critical), labels simply respond to where the money is and focus on that?

Definitely, thats my point. Trance is mostly made for bigroom events and festivals. Kids have time, energy and money, thats the best crowd for huge events. And till now I haven't met yet young people who were into Legowelt or Dj Stingray (imho high quality club music), no, they want 'hands in the air', bangin' stuff. Imo, this is not about producers, its about djs, because producers make music for the djs and djs make the money.-)
 

Magdelayna

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Well of course. I really believe the steroid-problem exists because it's the easiest subgenre to create.

Some popular steroid producers have their own sample packs and preset-packs: sean tyas, darren porter... and also guys like Temple One and Activa. Those latter ones might seem 'non-steroid', but they include those sounds as well. I personally have the Activa sample pack to inject some modernness in my own hobby projects. It contains ready to use modern perc loops, modern steroid kicks etc. If you want, there's even fully completed beat loops that contain everything: kick, hats, percs, everything in 1 loop. Insert in project > done.


I have that Activa pack and ive used it on various tracks over the years - it gave my stuff a more modern,crisper and driving side,BUT it ws combined with my own unique sounds,and you could tell it was one of my tracks even though i used the Activa stuff. Thats the main problem,producers are so generic nowadays,they all sound like each other - theres no unique style or trademarks sound that to would expect a true artist to have..wheres the character and soul in tracks nowadays?

When we talk about the 'Steroid' style,i would just put that under the modern generic style,the sledgehammer kick,big compressed bassline and edm style snare build ups - it definatly has nothing to do with 2006 and classic tracks like Exactly,as someone mentioned - yes,it was a slightly harder style as in the kick - but it had that all important thing...amazing melodies,thats why its regarded as a Trance Classic.
 
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Bluemoon

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I used to go to Sensation White in Amsterdam every year from around 2003. Also problably either Dance Valley or Trance Energy as well once a year.

They sold out every time, every year. And the music wasnt on steroid like it is now. Some of it maybe but it cant be compared to what it grew into. Around 2010 it all started to change totally. The music they where playing started to become harder and harder on all these events.

It was around the same time as bigroom got really mainstream. It was a move they made, and it was definetly not because the young people demanded it. The venues where already full every year. Full of young people loving this non stereoid trance music.

In short they decided to jump on the bigroom hypetrain but none where demanding for it.

My last year of Sensation White me and my friends left 5 hours before the event was over, it wasnt what we came for, we almost felt like we where at a bigroom festival.
 
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dmgtz96

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When we talk about the 'Steroid' style,i would just put that under the modern generic style,the sledgehammer kick,big compressed bassline and edm style snare build ups - it definatly has nothing to do with 2006 and classic tracks like Exactly,as someone mentioned - yes,it was a slightly harder style as in the kick - but it had that all important thing...amazing melodies,thats why its regarded as a Trance Classic.
I'll just say I disagree with what you said, and leave it at that
 

Magdelayna

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I'll just say I disagree with what you said, and leave it at that

Well if you think 'Steroid' existed in 2006 (even though no one mentioned the word until about a decade after lol)....then you can get great tracks in that style! Doesnt always have to be a negative POV. Steroid and Generic are different things.
 
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dmgtz96

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Well if you think 'Steroid' existed in 2006 (even though no one mentioned the word until about a decade after lol)....then you can get great tracks in that style! Doesnt always have to be a negative POV. Steroid and Generic are different things.
Right, I'm not saying Exactly and so on are bad. They're the classics that share the most in common with what we now call "steroid," like an early version of it.
And yeah, those are as good as 'steroid' gets in terms of quality.
 
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