What was the reason for the decline of trance after 2005?

dmgtz96

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It is no secret that trance experienced a decline in the volume of quality releases some time after 2005. In the late 2000s, the genre was more like a shadow of its former commercially successful period (~1999-2002) and its brief Internet revival (2004).
I think most can agree that something must have happened in the late 2000s for this decline to happen, but I realized that there rarely is any mention as to what actually happened. After thinking about it for a while, here are the hypotheses I could come up with:

  • Other genres (like electro-house) rose in popularity, displacing trance as the go-to music in clubs and drawing in young talent.
  • The young producers who entered trance during this time lacked talent. After all, they're the ones who made this happen. Their productions decreased the overall quality of the genre.
  • The recession happened, and trance was just a poor fit for the post-recession world. When everyone wanted grittier, harder music, trance was left out of the question.
    • Also, many good producers might have needed to quit producing trance to earn a living
  • The easier access to DAWs and digital labels made producing and distributing mediocre tracks easier
    • In theory, this would have happened to every genre and does not really explain why there are so few good tracks post-2005 versus pre-2005.
  • (Occam's Razor) By this time audiences were already exhausted of trance, so they flocked to other genres
I can't claim that any of these are the reason there is such a sharp contrast in quality after an arbitrary cut-off in the mid/late 2000s. It could be any combination of the above, or even something I haven't come up with yet. In any case, I am interested in hearing your speculations, especially if you have more knowledge about the trance scene from this era.
 

BS_BlackScout

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I'm too tired to elaborate but I'll address a few points.
1. Maybe, it definitely showed its face back in 2011 when Big Room took the mainstage scene.
2. Honestly, labels allowed for this happen. They knew the tracks were samey and they know repetition sells.
Above & Beyond did that all the time. All, the, time. Ask Jonathan David Grant who reused the Supersaw chord progression of Better Off Alone for YEARS.
Making music is hard, repetition sells, recipe for disaster.
Although I must say, there's more to trance post 2005 than those repetitions. Plus some of these progressions, pattern timings are really basic.
3. Recession happened in 2008. A grittier world would probably look for sadder songs, not harder music but I could be wrong.
4. DAWs also allow for good producers to expand their creativity beyond what was available previously, I don't think this checks out.
5. Ehhh, people come and go. I got into late 90s, early-mid-late 2000s Trance in 2016 and I still enjoy the sound. Even with all the repetition, reused patterns, samey rolling basslines, etc.

I think point 1 might be the closest one. After the release of this garbage, the electronic music scene started to go on an unrecoverable decline:

Also, fuck A&B for ever releasing this:

This is pure trash. Sorry, not sorry.

Big Room is lazily produced, it's complete and utter trash. (exception for Big Room Progressive House)
Listen to Hardwell sets, oof, it hurts to hear. No joke, but they actually make me feel bad, anxious, because it's so fucking bad.
It sounds like someone abusing a synthesizer or a mosquito or something.
_

Big Room Progressive House example (I enjoy this):

btw guitar is a sample from VEC
 

dmgtz96

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I'm too tired to elaborate but I'll address a few points

3. Recession happened in 2008. A grittier world would probably look for sadder songs, not harder music but I could be wrong.
4. DAWs also allow for good producers to expand their creativity beyond what was available previously, I don't think this checks out.
5. Ehhh, people come and go. I got into late 90s, early-mid-late 2000s Trance in 2016 and I still enjoy the sound. Even with all the repetition, reused patterns, samey rolling basslines, etc.
I think point 1 might be the closest one. After the release of this garbage, the electronic music scene started to go on an unrecoverable decline

Good response.
For #3 I would argue that people in difficult times turn to music for escapism. Lady Gaga got famous during the recession, and Train's happy love song Hey Soul Sister was huge during this time.
I agree with you about #4. It just happens that some people (not an @ at the forum, but I've seen this before) blame DAWs for the declining quality of music.
I should have been more specific about #5. I don't think it's strange that you got into those trance styles even in 2016. Then again, mine just wasn't a very good point.

I had completely forgotten about that Sandro Silva track. It's the first that sounds truly "modern," as even Skrillex's brostep feels like ages ago.
 
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Katadunkass

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Alright, two things first;
1: My answer will be purely opinion based - just so you're all warned if you ever feel offended about what I'm about to say.
2: I would say the massive decline to me started in 2007
2.5: My answer will be all over the place, so sorry about that.

Okay, as written I think the real decline happened around 2007-2008. Now sure, we still got some absolute monster-bangers after 2008 (Just look at Akesson - Perfect Blue, So Much More by Andy Moor, Mirco De Govia's Evolution Part 2 and so on - hell, some of my all-time favourite pure uplifting tracks are from 2008); So, why am I saying the decline started in 2007?
Well, 2007-2008 was a rather interesting time - after 2007'ish some people started craving for something new. They were getting annoyed producers pretty much just produced the same track over and over again; Hell, just look at Akesson - you were never in doubt when you heard his sound and honestly; I didn't mind, I love(d) his sound, but people wanted something new, something more. So, producers could go one of two ways;
1. The more creative and original path. It's more risky as you no doubt will push away some of your hardcore fans, but the reward could be something extra-ordinary.
2. The safe route; Look for the future and see what young people were craving - past paced, loud as f*ck 4-6 minute tracks (because oh my, the attention span has gone-to-shit). The positive side to this; You're in the safe hands of a young crowd who, perhaps, will follow you for years to come. The downside: You'll absolutely alienate most of your previous fans.

So labels did what they do best: Look at were the money's at. And hey, I do not blame them, you've got to make a living, but the result of that was "forcing" producers to follow the same path no matter who you were. A class "A" example of this is Enhanced Recordings. Just look back at their discography, even all the way through 2010, they had nothing but bangers. But now? One big-room track after another, and the change didn't happen gradually but rather: BOOM, BIG-ROOM FROM HERE ON OUT!

My main gripe with modern trance is which path most producers chose around 2008-2010; The chose the "safe" route, where the money and fame's at. There's absolutely no room for creativity anymore. Everything is so absolutely stale, uninspiring and boring. Some labels are trying to look back now, which I'm happy for, but the wonderful organic sounds of 2000-2005 trance is almost nowhere to be found. I was (and still is) madly in love with the 2005-area of trance; To me it's the best era where trance and progressive almost became one (ISOS 5 is still soooooo f*cking good because of this), but that deep, progressive and almost "spacey" sound is gone. And okay, music and sounds evolve just like everything else, but to me Trance absolutely evolved in the wrong path. Now everything is either 4-minute big-room sh!t or loud as f*ck """""uplifting"""""" tracks with a kick Armstrong could hear on the Moon.

I really hope creativity, originality and something inspiring comes back to trance, but the genre surely needs it.

Disclaimer: This doesn't count for all producers or labels, some of you still rock.
 
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2005 was definitely the beginning of the decline for trance and progressive, whoever says anything else doesn't know anything and should **** off.
Trance suddenly started to sound much more polished and clean and lost the gritty quality that had always been there otherwise. Why? I don't know..
There are good tracks that was being made after 2005 but from 05 and back you could tune in to ASOT and hear ******* awesome tunes every week.

Its all about the samples being used, this is why trance has sucked since then. If you take Anahera for example and slap the same oldschool Gouryella samples that was being used back then it would sound MUCH better.

ITS ALL ABOUT THE ******* SAMPLES BEING USED

EDIT: And also, i ******* hate that within trance you always want to strive as far away as possible from the oldschool sound. Meanwhile in other genres such as GOA you want to strive to sound oldschool with samples and everything. Trance since 2005 has despised everything that came before that, like that sound was a ******* disease or something. Its a ******* joke
 
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Gagi

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In my eyes, the only sub-genres that got (and are going) progressively worse over time after '06 (yes, '06) are the ones we still have now - and by that I mostly think of uplifting. But that's just a function of time, really. Even though I consider trance getting worse after '06, I still love some of the styles that popped-up since. Armin's Mirage was a great album IMO, in a great style - not comparable to and definitely not as good as 76, but still great. The Blizzard, Eco, and many more were great ever since. But they had their own thing. Everything that stayed the same just got more boring.

I'm just realizing now that I don't even listen to many uplifting tracks nowadays - awesome or horrid. And that's because it has bored me, I've listened to it so many times! That's why I always discover new stuff, dig a bit deeper (into the past). Maybe trance went bad because people started expecting to hear certain things over and over again. That and the recession got everyone to choose the safe path.

Plus all the other usual suspects. Digitalization, massive influx of mediocre producers, accessibility, social media etc. Granted, there are exceptions, but they are called exceptions for a reason.
 

brandonl

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2006 i think was the last good year for trance. 2007-2010 had some good stuff here and there but largely it fell flat. Trance became way too commercialized, i think it's that simple. it lost the magic it once had and the scene changed and people moved on.
 
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dmgtz96

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1: My answer will be purely opinion based - just so you're all warned if you ever feel offended about what I'm about to say.
No offense taken. That was a very good post, and I chuckled at the comment about "uplifting trance with a kick Armstrong could hear on the moon."

I'm just realizing now that I don't even listen to many uplifting tracks nowadays - awesome or horrid
I feel the same way!

With respect to the year: it's difficult to claim there was a hard cut-off. There wasn't a point in time when one moment trance was great, and the next moment it went bad. It was more like a gradual transition that happened during the mid to late 2000s. There were still many good tracks in 2006 and 2007 (and a few in 2008 and beyond).

This is what reading Matrixmorpheus' post felt like. Call it "necessary censorship." :p
 

deVOID

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Very interesting question and one I ask myself a lot. My humble take on it all is that Trance has become a victim of capitalism and the internet.

Those that pay the most money to listen to dance music nowadays (eg your American beer boy who pays $300 to jump around singing ‘woop woop!’ at Ultra Music Festival wearing a fluorescent vest) couldn’t give a **** about a lot of the things that we enjoy so much about Trance tracks/sets, such as melody, chord progression or deeper emotions and the overall journey of the set ie the type of stuff that doesn’t necessarily suit a 10 second promo clip on Instagram. Unfortunately, those that love a Trance rave are, for the most part, no longer in a position to support the scene by going out and paying to listen to it. By that I mean the majority of those who caught the bug in the late 90s and early-mid 2000s when it was seriously good, are now pushing 40 and 50 years old. Financial and family pressures prevail.

Furthermore, Producers and DJs who, somewhat understandably, wanted to make the big cash had to make music that the Instagram Raver would pay good money to jump around to in a big arena. Armin had an opportunity to head in this direction and promptly did so c2005, using marketing in a clever way to ensure he could cross-over to the mainstream. Others have dipped their toes in and recently returned to more of a Trancey sound (I’m thinking PVD) where they feel their heart is. Some, like John O'Callaghan who has gone on record saying this, will stay with what they love.

The ability to illegally file share a copy of Fruity Loops or Cubase on Limewire for free during the mid-2000s meant that by the end of that decade there was enough of a conveyor belt of bedroom producers making big room and EDM tunes for the era of the big cheesey festival. The market was flooded and the quality stuff we love started to get lost in the noise (excuse the pun). If the only way to make money in music these days is live shows then it must provide a serious test of dedication for any talented Trance DJ Fan/Producer to supress their passion for Trance in favour of pursuing EDM.

I strongly refuse to believe that someone like eg Armin or Gareth Emery can truly believe in and enjoy the type of music they have been churning out for the last 10 years, when you look at the incredible quality of Trance music they were capable of producing/playing before c2006. I do however believe that quality Trance is still out there to be discovered if we look hard enough (just look at that latest incredible release on Forescape Digital). And trends can be cyclical, so one day more people will want to head back to a dark cave of a nightclub, put their head down and rave all night to some proper Trance without all the BS. At least that’s what I hope will happen. But for that to happen some of the top jocks need to have the guts to start playing it in sets.

For what it’s worth I also believe 2006 was a brilliant year for Trance when I think about some of the tracks I heard. It has slowly declined since then but with the odd cracker here and there.
 

BS_BlackScout

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I could agree with a lot the swearing person had to say but the language threw me away. (woo rhymes) [it's not like I swear any less, but I do it casually-ish]
Sounds like a revolted teenager lul.

I do believe that yes, bad samples can make a track sound like garbage. But there's way more than just that.
Take modern Anjunabeats for example. Whenever they try to produce """"Trance"""" they have to slap on that Electro/Farty bass.
That never really belonged in Trance [only for a few exceptions (Marcel Woods - Advanced)] and it was always toned down in a way that didn't make it sound dumb.
BRRRRRRRRRRRRR, fuck that, am I listening to drill sounds or music?

About Uplifting, I don't think any other sub-genre survived well, but most of it is so fucking generic it hurts.
Slap some supersaw sequence as loud as you can get and that's it. It's boring as shit.
With that said, I think Dennis Schimonik ghost tracks still sound fresh. (JvD, MORPH, etc.), GO as well...

But then there's one style that I haven't looked up in ages that I wonder if it still sounds the same, stuff like this:
 

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If you ignored the whole big room sound (which i did) then there was still a handful of really good Trance tracks every year,going into the 2010's.

2011 was especially good for vocal Trance but i guess thats not everyones cup of tea. But from around 2007 it was a totally different era in my mind - its where it all went digital,in how you purchased a track (Audiojelly etc) and how you produced a track - hardware went out of the window and it was so easy to pick up software to produce for the bedroom producers. Perhaps that led to a decrease in quality,its a very interesting thing to look into. Also a number of the great Trance producers of the late 90's/early 2000's stopped making Trance or were a lot less involved - im thinking of Matt Darey,Lange and even MIKE went to experiment with a more EDM sound and then came back a few years ago trying to replicate his early 2000's Trance.

But i wil always remain on the positive side of all this....i have a 'top lists' of all years up until very recenty and there were some great tracks in the 2010's. Its the last couple of years ive seen it really decline - only a handful of producers are making good Trance - e.g. Guiseppe,Cold Blue
 
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Halon

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There were many great tracks released after 2006. Sunny Lax - Blue Bird (2007), Aurora (2009) and Misgrey (2009) comes to mind.
 

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Trance just needs to go back to little clubs with 50 - 150 people on the floor, more atmosphere, not so many hands in the air moments, it will be good again, now everybody wants to be played at massive events, can't be so much quility in that
 
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Katadunkass

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Trance just needs to go back to little clubs with 50 - 150 people on the floor, more atmosphere, not so many hands in the air moments, it will be good again, now everybody wants to be played at massive events, can't be so much quility in that
Damn, finding some of those older live sessions on Youtube with 200 people in a small industrial club with smoke, no phones and a bit of a crappy sound = pure love