How do you figure out your song's genre?

It’s not so hard to figure out when something’s rock or soul or jazzy, but I find electronic music genres very hard to pin down. I want to clean up my Soundcloud a little since I just tag everything “electronic”.

Anybody out there with a guide, or do most of you start making music with a genre in mind?


It’s kinda essential to start a song knowing what genre to do because u need that genres structure. Just compare it to other songs I guess

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I understand why you say that, but I actually strongly disagree.

What of experimentation, or allowing inspiration to lead wherever it goes?

I certainly understand the challenge and benefits of using the most appropriate genre to label something you’ve made. It helps improve discoverability, relevance and establish some base expectations.

But, to say it’s ‘essential’ to start out with what’s effectively a ‘template’ state-of-mind…?

I think a great many electronic producers would benefit from more open-minded, less restrictive attitude to music creation. Otherwise, we’re all just painting by numbers.

My advice would be to make whatever music your instincts and inspiration lead you to make - and worry about the genre label later.


No I’ve experimented with a lot of songs but I’m saying if u wanna know what genre you are making it’s best to start out knowing what u want to make. Unless u are experimenting which is fine :grinning:

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‘Experimentation’ is not an alternative to ‘genre’. It’s an attitude that, imo, should adopted before you set out the first note or beat.

In its simplest form, it’s about being open-minded about formal structures, and willing to disregard the ‘rules’ of any genre.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever started out with an intention to create something in a specific genre. But similarly, I’ve never started out with the intention to try something as an ‘experiment’.

I just make the music I make, and let each piece become whatever genre it turns out as - maybe even something that doesn’t cleanly fit an existing genre.


It seemed to me that the OP was asking for ways to identify and label existing tracks, not how to use genre-based guidelines to start or finish a track.


I find by researching a genre’s origin you can pin-point the characteristics that define it.

House was born from looping disco records and adding a drum machine kick to every beat.
Jungle was a mashup of hardcore and Jamaican sound-system culture.



I agree with what @DJ_La_Rocca said in his first reply. Song structure are very important and different from genre to genre. Unless you’ve listened to a lot of track of a particular genre, you won’t have the feel for the flow of those genres. Best to learn about them, but don’t cookie cut following, see how others structure them.

But @Sunny, you asked for a guide. (Best on computer) (This guide shows a mad load of genre and sub-genre, I bit wild and some genres are questionable… but for the most part, it can serve as examples of whatever genre)


I always do the same genre :rofl:


I don’t think it answers the OP’s question to suggest that the solution is to write music that conforms to a genre. The guides that @Alyen links to are a good starting point, and understanding the history of the genres – as suggested by @blakkaz – can also be very useful in helping you identify the genres of songs. But I don’t think it entirely answers the original question.

My tuppence-worth would be that it can be very hard, if not impossible, to pinpoint a genre for a track. If you happen to always write music that conforms to one or two genres then that’s great! You’ll have no trouble identifying your music’s genre. But if you prefer to be more experimental in your compositions then you might find it difficult or impossible to say with any certainty what your genre is.

Using a mainstream artist as an example, how would you classify the genre for this track (one of my favourite ever songs) from AIR?

I love this song so much, but I couldn’t say with any certainty what the genre is. In fact I’d struggle to even assign an overall genre to AIR as a band. Some of their stuff is pop, some of it chill, some of it experimental, some of it lively, some of it sad or depressing. I’ve seen all kinds of genres assigned to them, most of which I wouldn’t agree with.

My personal suggestion is to not lose too much sleep over it. If you think a song could pass as a given genre, then label it as such. If you can’t decide on a genre for a song, just give it a generic tag such as “Electronic”.


If it gets reposted then it’s future bass



I don’t


This is a scatterplot made by an engineer working for Spotify. It uses Spotify’s library. A lot of genre names on this map are made up in order to label datapoints. My favorite made up genre is escape room. It has everyone from RTJ to Grimes on there.

With that said, using this map to help categorize your music wouldn’t be very helpful as there are a lot of unofficial genre names.

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Yes I agree, (on there are a lot of goofy :upside_down_face: genres.
Won’t be useful for the OP.

TIL there’s a genre called Jungle.

I guess the consensus here is that nailing down a genre is hard when labelling is an afterthought. To clarify, I was after tools to classify, so thank-you for the resources above. I’ll properly look into them on the weekend.

I generally listen to soundtracks and try to make atmospheric or emotive tracks. Like, I’ll hear something a piano does (an Interstellar track has been on the brain lately) and want to recreate the feeling it gives, and also play with it in other instruments. I get some unusual results, and sometimes would like to be able to find artists that do something similar to me (I know of one other Auxy artist who I think does something similar.)

So yeah, my process generally starts off very experimental.

While I believe that song structure is key to a good track, I definitely wouldn’t use a template unless I was really after making those genres! I would even been interested in swapping around song structures for different genres to see the result.


cough Voyage cough cough

I’ve seen “Soundtrack” used as a genre before now. If your tracks really could be the backing to part of a film then I wouldn’t hesitate to use that as a genre tag.

generally, a lot of edm genres can be pinned or at least narrowed down by their bpm and/ or sound structure
dubstep: generally around 140-150bpm with a kick on 1 and snare on 3 (with some kind of wubs going on, but not always)
electro: generally around 130bpm
house: 120’s (128)
Glitch hop: 110bpm (220 halftime) very jazzy sounding. kinda funky stuff (u kno, like Haywyre…no not the one we have here.)
DnB: upper 160’s (174 master tempo) fast stuff usually, pretty heavy on bass n drums obviously. snares are more the rhythm keepers here, usually on 2 and 4.
JUST some examples. U dont need to follow this. there are PLENTY of people who decide to go and break these ideas, but they’re very, very general/basic guidelines i think.

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but in terms of what you want to make, i would not say you gotta have an idea in mind for what you want to make. Always start out doing some experimentation and see where it takes you. You might start at 120bpm and make a melody, then later find that it actually sounds better at a different tempo, and suddenly you end up with a completely new song.

Sometimes i do jump into music with a genre in mind, but very often it goes the complete opposite direction.

very contrary to the examples i just put up lol, but add whatever genre you think fits your piece. If you think your track at 174bpm sounds like a house track, then by all means, label it as a House track. At the end of the day, it is YOUR music and can be whatever genre you see it as.