Firmly establishing itself as the US most important conference on dance music, EDM Biz capped a 5th year off with a move to Caesar’s Palace and expanded programming with 2 sessions running concurrently during the event. In addition a larger conference expo with various exhibitors was available for attendees to peruse.
The first panel, ‘What’s in a name?’ touched on the use of the term ‘EDM” and whether it still is an appropriate term to describe dance music. Panelists include EDM Biz host and KCRW dj Jason Bentley, Matthew Adell, formerly of Beatport, Raymond Roker of URB Magazine, old school rave promoter Phillip Blaine and Dj Tommie Sunshine. The general consensus (though not unanimous) was that the term EDM is a fair catch-all term to describe all dance music and there is no need to use a new term for the time being.
One of the more useful panels we attended was the “Ads, Fads, and the Future of Radio”, featuring Ted Cohen of TAG Strategic, Austin Kramer of Spotify, Ben Gill of Pandora, Danny Howard of BBC Radio 1, George Hess of Zero2Fifty and Geronimo of SiriusXM. The panel was very informative with useful tips on how to market your tracks to the tastemakers in the dance music industry. The attendees were then treated to an unexpected bonus when dj and Armada label boss Armin Van Buuren crashed the panel to give his take on how best for producers to get the word out of their new tracks. Tips included ‘stalking’ an A&R person to get your track noticed by then and that social media is current the best way to promo new tracks. The panelists recommended that producer get their tracks on every streaming platform that exists, not just limited to the usual places such as Soundcloud and Youtube. If you are promoing dj mix, it is important to get your tracklist on the 1001 Tracklists website.
The ‘Building the next big DJ’ forum was informative as well for those trying to building their brand or manage an artist. One somewhat strange aspect of the panel was the artist Marshmello made an appearance, however he sat on stage in his usual all-white outfit with helmet and other than nodding ‘yes’ once to answer a question he never participated in the panel which we felt was a bit of a waste of his time and ours. The others on stage at this time includedMoe Shalizi, Marshmello’s manager, dj Ookay, Steve Gordon of Circle Talent Agency and Matt Rodriguez, VP of AM Only. Suggestions by the panel to make a name for yourself as a dj included ‘nowadays you have to produce to get gigs’. Also you must have a ‘brand’ and strong social media presence.
One of the highlights was the keynote interview of Pasquale Rotella, CEO of Insomniac, by Jason Strauss, partner in the Tao Group and good friends with Rotella. Some key takeaways from their interview format talk included that the 1st year EDC was in Las Vegas, Insomniac lost $3 million on the event. Rotella also mentioned taking an active role on social media in an attempt (which has worked in our opinion) to soften his image after the negative press relating to various events at the LA Coliseum venue. Also mentioned was an soft inference that SFX came with a large buyout offer for Insomniac and intimated that if Rotella did not sell that that would take the money reserved for the purchase and use it against him. As part of an audience Q&A, Strauss added that the Tao Group is expanding into Asia and Europe with new venues.
EDM Biz host Jason Bentley interview legendary rave dj and producer Moby as part of the event. Moby’s appearance was related to the publication of his new book ‘Porcelain’. Bentley’s interview went over much of Moby’s past history of his experiences in New York City in the 1990s and how that affected his artistic output and life in general.
Other panels we attended included the ‘Resurgence of Trance’ featuring Dave Ralph, former trance dj and head of talent at Insomniac, Markus Schulz and Paul Oakenfold as well as an intimate conversation with Armin Van Buuren (interviewed by Mesfin Fekadu of the Associated Press).
Standouts in the expo include Grooveo, a new streaming platform which is free for venues and music fans to use. The unique aspect of Grooveo is the platform allows users to buy ‘credits’ which they can then donate to the dj as a thanks for enjoying their performance.
To wrap up our time at EDM Biz (our 3rd time attending), the conference has continued to grow each year with more panels and industry professionals. The networking opportunities are endless as one can initiate conversations with some of the biggest djs in the business, club owners, promoters, agents, managers, tech people and more. We highly recommend you add this conference your list of can’t miss EDM business conferences.