IMS partner BEN TURNER speaks about the IMS ENGAGE event in Los Angeles on Weds April 17
1. While Ibiza being the home for IMS is a natural fit, why was Los Angeles chosen as the home for this North American extension of IMS?
"Los Angeles has become the business hub for many in electronic music over the last three years or so: producers, DJs, managers, promoters. It feels like being in LA is much more useful for new business and new opportunities than almost anywhere in the world. Now that Hollywood film; national American TV shows; national American media are all open and wanting to engage with electronic music it really feels like a place for the genre to step up a gear. All doors are open here to this music. Not the case for the last 20 years. IMS Engage wants to make a statement about electronic music and our mission is to elevate the perception of this industry and ensure its positioned in the right way. Hence creating a format like IMS Engage which we feel is a clear and concise way of showing how far the genre has come."
2. In your opinion, how does the dance music scene in the United States differ from other parts of the world?
"Like it or not, things have moved on so quickly and so far that its almost become its own genre. EDM seems to now be accepted not as a term for the genre of modern electronic music, but the sound of young America. I welcome anything that gives a new generation a feeling of belonging as any youth movement has to have that its core. To think 20 years on from when I started pushing electronic music to the US via media channels that we'd be in a scenario where a new generation of adopted and nurtured their own sound and now its headline news. It’s an amazing time here, not to everybody's comfort, but ultimately we all wanted this genre to get bigger and now it’s here, it should be embraced. I am of the belief that people have a starting point with a style of music and a percentage of those people use that starting point as their way in before exploring all types of sounds and artists. I think there is a major moment of discovery going on right now, as I've witnessed so many young fans wanting to learn and discover the architects of the scene who have today's scene possible."
3. Engage carries a less traditional format of unmoderated conversations, as opposed to the more traditional panel discussion format. What value does this bring to attendees and participants?
"I am a little over panels. As conference creators, a lot of money is spent bringing some major people to ibiza or LA to speak on a panel and they get maybe six minutes of time to speak. It’s a waste of money for all concerned. So I think we're learning to get more out of the people we bring. If they are interesting enough to put on a plane to Ibiza, at least let them speak! In addition, IMS Ibiza is very strong and we're proud of its positioning and the diverse presentation format. We know IMS Engage is on some six weeks before our main event so there was little point mirroring it as much for my own creative thinking and enjoyment as the delegates. IMS Ibiza will always be our main focus, IMS Engage is a way to bring something different to a region. So we decided one simple format could actually make for a more compelling one-day event. And the concept seems to have captured people's imagination. I was in the W Hotel on Hollywood two months back and had the idea of the two empty chairs in an empty room and it was actually a powerful photo which reminds me of the old Mastermind chair which I used to love on TV! It’s kind of a strict but strangely open format – no moderators, no guidelines… Simply ENGAGE!"
4. We're seeing names not regularly associated with dance music on the Engage bill like Russell Simmons and Troy Carter (management for Lady Gaga). What was the approach in bringing relatively "outside" perspectives into the conversation?
"Well this to me IS the concept. Every pairing places an icon from electronic music (artist or industry) with somebody from the outer world – somebody we're reaching out to, or somebody that is trying to reach in. So we paired people based on our own insight, but in some cases, asked a key person who they would like to share a conversation with. It’s all about parallels – what can electronic music learn from a counterpart in mainstream music or culture. And what can THEY learn about our ways of working. Five years ago, Amy Thomson with Troy Carter would have been two opposite approaches colliding and maybe Amy would have wanted to learn from Troy Carter. But now Amy is showing the bigger guys how to market, promoter, sell a concept around the world, so it’s as much people learning from what electronic music is currently getting so right. So this is our format, and its one we will continue with as its captured the imagination of media and interest alike."
6. Engage marks the debut of IMS in the United States. Do you envision this being a reoccurring event in North America?
"It’s not secret we feel IMS has an approach and ethos which we feel has a place in the American landscape of the business of electronic music. We as a team are deep thinkers and care passionately about the genre on every level. So I am delighted we have managed to put this event on year one with the help of our partners from Ibiza – Pioneer, W Hotels Worldwide. Incredible how much they believe in what we're trying to do for this business. We've been approached to do this in many regions around the world, but being in LA was a personal goal of mine because I think right now it’s here where the real thinking about the future of the business is going on. I don't want that to sound alienating to all the creativity that is coming out of Berlin or Brick Lane right now, but overall, the genre is finally being accepted as a real valid artform and a lot of that belief and support is coming from North America."
7. Is Engage a precursor to IMS in Ibiza? Can you share any details about IMS Ibiza on May 22nd-24th?
"Well IMS Engage has put IMS Ibiza on the map in America in quite a big way. The timing has intrigued many, being so close to the Ibiza event. But in all honesty, I never wanted to ask people to fly to Los Angeles from London or even New York for this event. And we are overwhelmed so many people are doing just that. But it was meant to offer the West Coast community a day of intelligent conversation plus something for all the people in town throughout Coachella week to enjoy. I've been here the last four years during this week, and only the Windish event seemed to pull everybody together – hence working with them for the pool party on Wednesday from 6pm. I have a huge respect for the roster and ethos of Windish, so we're delighted they wanted to team up with us. IMS Ibiza – Jean Michel Jarre; Nile Rodgers part two; Sven Vath; Idris Elba; Paul Van Dyk; Fatboy Slim – incredible year of names. I think they all speak for themselves, and they certainly will be come May 22!"
Ben Turner is one of five partners of IMS Ibiza, and one of six partners for IMS Engage (a format made for North America). Turner, along with Pete Tong, curates the two events which has been described by media as "the TED of music conferences". Turner was the founder of Muzik Magazine, creative director of DanceStar USA: The American Dance Music Awards, and runs his own company called Graphite which manages iconic DJs, and has interests in festivals, a social media company, and is renowned for helping brands connect with artists.