The Family Stone itself never thought very highly of Dance to the Music while they were recording it; its existence was the result of CBS executive Clive Davis' request for Sly Stone to make his sound more pop friendly. To appease his employer, Sly developed a formula for the band's recordings, which would still promote his visions of peace, brotherly love, and anti-racism while appealing to a wider audience. Most of the resulting Family Stone songs feature each lead singer in the band (Sly, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham, and newcomer Rose Stone) sharing the lead vocals by either singing them in unison or taking turns singing bars of each verse. In addition, the songs contained significant amounts of scat singing and prominent solos for each instrumentalist.
The formula not only worked in selling records, but influenced the entire music industry. When "Dance to the Music" became a Top 10 pop hit, R&B/soul producers and labels immediately began appropriating the new "psychedelic soul" sound. By the end of 1968, The Temptations had gone psychedelic, and The Impressions and Four Tops would join them within the space of two years. New acts such as The Jackson 5 and The Undisputed Truth would show heavy influence from Dance to the Music and its follow-ups, Life and Stand!. Many of the songs on this album (particularly the title track, "Are You Ready", "Ride the Rhythm", and the selections that make up the "Dance to the Medley" that closes Side A) adhere closely to the formula, and also share chord progressions. Exceptions include "Color Me True", a more somber selection about how one fits in with society, Sly's solo number "Don't Burn Baby", and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", a slow ballad sung by Larry Graham. Also included is the band's first Epic single, "Higher" (later reworked as "I Want to Take You Higher"), and a rerecording of their only release for Loadstone Records, "I Ain't Got Nobody".