IMS 2013 – Day 1: An Overview

23 May 2013

The sixth International Music Summit kicked off Wednesday May 22nd, 2013 from the gorgeous Ibiza Gran Hotel on the island of Ibiza, Spain. The vibe was electric, as the sold out event drew in people from all parts of the dance music space from around the globe including artists, producers, managers, publishers, digital agencies, bloggers, lawyers, club owners, and more.

Ibiza is a Mecca for electronic music, and is regarded as the number one destination on earth to experience new music and listen to the biggest DJs in the world. It’s only appropriate that the IMS format be held here in strides to reset the agenda for electronic music culture.

Opening Remarks by IMS Partners

IMS partners Pete Tong, Ben Turner, Mark Netto, Danny Whittle, and Simeon Friend welcomed the standing room only crowd. The men shared their passion for the dance music space and desire to help facilitate its continued evolution with the IMS platform. With a brief intro, they ushered in the first topic of the day.

IMS Business Report 2013 by Kevin Watson

Following up from last year’s IMS Business Report, market research Kevin Watson provided an updated look at the current state of electronic music.

“2011-2012 saw a 36% growth in digital sales of dance / electronic tracks, which is the highest of any genre,” Watson said.

Watson shed some light on festival growth in the USA, with 2013 capacity growing by close to 500K with events like Ultra Music Festival and Electric Daisy Carnival. The conversation then shifted a bit to the commercialization of electronic music.

“In the last year, there has been close to $300m worth of mergers and acquisitions activity in the EDM industry,” he said. “The largest EDM clubs in Vegas make over $600m pa, with two huge additions arriving in 2013.”

Watson also pointed out that the perception of the DJ as an icon dramatically changed in the past year.

“DJs are getting involved in more and more high-profile brand sponsorship campaigns in 2013. They’re right up there now with athletes and celebrities.”

Social media continues to play a huge role in dance music, with artists like Diplo sending out an average of 30 tweets per day. And according to Watson’s report, overall estimates suggest the global EDM industry is now worth over $4.5 billion annually.

Keynote Address by Patrick Moxey (Ultra Records / Sony Music)

Still marinating and absorbing the stats / figures from Watson’s IMS Business Report, attendees saw Patrick Moxey appropriately taking the stage to provide his take of the current state of electronic music.

"There is no bubble to burst, because everything you see is organic,” Moxey said. “The music is just getting stronger."

Clearly not fazed or deterred by the cultural swing the EDM boom has brought, Moxey articulated how the energy and passion of this space has long been built up over time and how, now, there are more resources than ever before.

"What got us here in the first place was a do-it-yourself mentality, and it's great to see that continuing," he said. "It was a struggle to get where we are, let's enjoy that we have access to the highest levels… but let's also keep the authenticity."

Moxey went on to mention how the digital sphere continues to do the electronic music space wonders, citing the rapid sharing of Daft Punk’s single “Get Lucky”, which earned it the #1 slot in 65 countries.

Putting all fears aside, Moxey closed out his keynote with a simple suggestion:

"Let's make the most of this moment."

Keynote Address by Marc Geiger, William Morris Endeavor

Taking a more straightedge and upfront approach, Marc Geiger followed Patrick Moxey to give his take on what’s happening now in the world of dance music. He voiced his concerns that the scene mustn’t fall victim like so many others and wait till it’s too late to adapt to a changing environment.

"EDM is big money, and with big money comes the responsibility to grow up," he said.

Speaking to the worldwide popularity of dance music culture, Geiger’s view on the underground was controversial to say the least among many in the audience and the thousands following on IMS on Twitter.

“The era of the underground is kind of over,” he said. “It’s become too popular and when everybody knows about it, it isn’t underground anymore.” These words brought many surprised looks to the faces of attendees and sparked a heated discussion on Twitter.

Speaking to the growth of worldwide festivals, "You're seeing the cultural plotting of electronic music all over the world now. The 'boom boom' is just the beginning."

The talk then shifted to a notion brought up earlier by Kevin Watson in the IMS Business Report – DJs becoming celebrity figures and trendsetters.

"DJs started out as the everyman, but they're not anymore – they're stars. We need more stars; interest goes up as a result."

Geiger suggested that instead of an arms race of who has the most visually stunning light show, what the space needs to see is, “the DJ that turns into David Bowie and wows us creatively – and we need 100 of them."

Ending on a note about digital, Geiger expressed frustration at the lack of organization and curation that exists.

"This is a conformist discussion. As an industry, we need to clean up our metadeta and package things in ways that are digestible,” he said. “We need more filters – there's too much of a mess out there."

“Where Does All The Money Go?” feat. John Truelove (Truelove), Marcus Trojan (Weekend Club), Mark Lawrence (PRS for Music), Ralf Kollmann (Mobilee Records), and Stephen Titmus (Shazam) Moderator: Kurosh Nasseri (Association for Electronic Music)

The first full-on panel centered on a growing concern not just in dance music, but all music genres: Given how much music is being played everywhere on a year-round basis, just where exactly is the money going? This topic is especially relevant for electronic music, as so many tracks are played in clubs all over the world with many content creators still not getting paid properly (or even at all).

“The real issue is that this money is not going to the artists – it gets divided among others," said Ralf Kollmann of Mobilee Records.

Another issue has always resided in clubs not reporting which songs they’ve been playing, as many either don’t have the infrastructure to do so or simply choose not to in efforts to avoid paying.

“There are cost restraints of data collection, you can't ask every club what songs were played in a given night."

However, Ralf Kollman fired back:

“But if Richie Hawtin can tweet his tracks in real time, and Shazam has track ID technology, why can’t we apply this in clubs to get people paid? Why is there a tech void in data collection if the tech is there?"

“Clearly, we’ve established that the only solution is a technological one," said Kurosh Nasseri.

Collaboration was the theme everyone walked away with. An audience member noted, perhaps it’s time that a leaf be taken out of IT's book and open source the databases: “Collaborate. Clean. Improve. Everyone wins."

"The Changing Face of Ibiza" feat. David Vincent (Sankeys), Francisco Ferrer (Pacha), Guy Gerber, Mark Netto (IBZ Entertainment), Shane Murray (Ibiza Rocks), and Yann Pissenem (Ushuaia) Moderator: Grego O'Halloran (Resident Advisor)

While Ibiza has longtime been a Mecca for dance music, the island has undergone continuous change over the years.

"Change isn't always embraced on an island," said Mark Netto.

News broke regarding a few prolific Ibiza clubs including Bomba said to open the final week of June, and Ushuaia speaking of a possible amusement park in the works.

Expressing his concern for unity amongst clubs on the island, Netto was adamant about collaboration.

"The days of clubs dictating who plays where are over, the punters are the ones who dictate along with the DJs," he said. “The key to longevity of the clubs is cooperation.”

Shane Murray of Ibiza Rocks noted that their expertise in live evens has morphed their season lineup to “look like a broad festival."

And speaking more to a notion that was brought up earlier in the day, David Vincent of Sankeys had some words for people clinging on to the underground.

"It's not 'underground' if you are promoting and putting posters all over the place."

IMS Engage Presents Duncan Stutterheim (ID&T / Tomorrowland) in conversation with Shelly Finkel (SFX Entertainment)

Returning from IMS Engage in Hollywood, SFX Head of Acquisition Shelly Finkel once again articulated that his company doesn’t look at dance music as EDM, but rather as “EMC – electronic music culture, because it really is all about culture now.”

Finkel also warned that DJs should not be charging what they’re getting paid in Vegas everywhere else.

“Vegas has huge income streams of hotels, casinos, and food/beverage that others simply can’t match."

Both Finkel and Stutterheim remained steadfast in their pursuit to keep electronic music healthy and growing, and that entry from larger entities is not a “bad” thing, but merely a natural evolution in the growing popularity in a worldwide cultural phenomenon.

“At first, this was all very weird to me,” said Stutterheim. “But the longer I work with Shelly, the more I can see that the I am in a position to help make it grow and I want to do what I can.”

However, when asked by an audience member how SFX ultimately seeks to gain monetarily from their continued penetration of the dance music space, Finkel failed to provide specifics and continued to play the card of, “we’re in it for the music…”

Keynote Interview: Bob Lefsetz Interviewed by Pete Tong

In the final discussion of the day, always controversial and famed industry blogger Bob Lefsetz sat with IMS partner Pete Tong for quite the animated chat. Lefsetz held nothing back and was his usual, brutally honest self.

Stirring the pot right away, Lefsetz challenged some previous statements from Steve Hulme:

“That guy from Pacha, I'd like to lock him in a room and find out the truth!"

Lefsetz then went on to talk about electronic music and it’s subtle climb to the mainstream.

"The best thing about electronic music was that the mainstream was clueless. The fans owned it, just like rock & roll."

While the rise of social media clearly has a direct correlation with the rise of electronic music, Lefsetz warned DJs not to be tied to – what he considers – fading practices.

"Facebook has become passé. Get a website and Wikipedia," he said. “Also, take care of your core audience; play to the core. Don’t worry about trying to get new fans, your core will take care of that for you!”

On success, “If you’re not getting hate mail, you’re nobody,” Lefsetz said. “The hardest thing to do is follow up on success. And the longer you wait, the harder it becomes.”

“If you're watching TV and you're relaxing, you'll never be successful," he continued. “Don’t give me the excuse that you don’t have time to tweet.”

On the streaming vs. downloads debate: “Forget piracy… downloads… STREAMING WON!” He also had words on Google’s entry in the streaming market, saying that their entry was “like somebody had built a stadium – the game just got big.”

Although, remained adamant that there will be only one winner to streaming, “similar to how Google owns search, amazon owns retail, etc.”