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IMS Ibiza unveils new home for 15th edition

IMS Ibiza has revealed a new destination for the 15th edition of its electronic music summit.

Co-hosted by BBC Radio 1 broadcasters Pete Tong MBE and Jaguar, the annual conference will be held at the newly opened Mondrian Ibiza and Hyde Ibiza hotels in Cala Llonga from 24-26 April 2024, with programming to take place across both venues.

In a rare keynote, Tomorrowland founder Michiel Beer will share insights into the festival’s evolution in Tomorrowland: 20 Years of Innovation, which will also look at the impact of the Tomorrowland Foundation.

Other panel highlights announced so far include Ninja Tune: Unveiling The Wizardry Behind One Of Electronic Music’s Greatest Independent Labels with the label’s co-founder Matt Black, while Rebuilding Our Community: How To Bring Back Peace, Love, Unity & Respect will examine how the industry can respect and restore its values.

Elsewhere, Amplifying Amapiano: The Journey of a Genre From The Township to the Global Stage will unpack the genre’s cultural influence as it transcends borders, and Defected Records CEO Wez Saunders and founder Simon Dunmore will reflect on the journey of the label in 25 Years of Defected: Life After An Acquisition. IMS is also bringing back its Market Focus format to take a deep dive into the scene in Germany.

“Now that the industry has (mostly) enjoyed its bounce-back, this is the real test of stability as consumer habits settle down”

“IMS continues with our third and most important edition since the pandemic, but also our 15th event in Ibiza,” says IMS co-founder and lead curator Ben Turner. “Now that the industry has (mostly) enjoyed its bounce-back, this is the real test of stability as consumer habits settle down. It is also a moment where global events have impacted the unity of our scene, presenting many with challenging decisions to make.

“IMS also moves to a new property in Cala Llonga, a stunning part of our magical island that is now home to the new Mondrian Ibiza and Hyde Ibiza hotels, and now IMS. We can’t wait to host everybody again and continue to help set and drive the conversation.”

Delegates will also be able to experience parties and events on the island, including the IMS Dalt Vila closing celebration.

IMS Ibiza is partnering with climate action partner EarthPercent, with 1% of all IMS Ibiza 2024 delegate badge purchases to be donated to the charity. The levy will also be applied to all event sponsors.

“We’re delighted that IMS have made the pledge of 1% contributions to EarthPercent,” says artist and EarthPercent co-founder Brian Eno. “The funds will go towards some of the most impactful climate and environmental solutions around the world.

“We’re in the middle of the most challenging crisis we will ever face and the music industry has an amazing opportunity to champion action. It’s hard to know what to do but we know that uniting voices, values, and funds can make a huge difference so we’d love others to join IMS in the movement too.”

 


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Rave reviews: Electronic music report

With the annual IMS Report noting that electronic music revenues grew by more than one third to reach $11.3 billion in 2022, and that nearly half of all dance music revenue came from festivals and clubs, the genre’s impact on live events has never been greater. DJ Mag editor-in-chief Carl Loben reports.

The rise of electronic music has been embraced – some might argue facilitated – by festival organisers the world over creating dance arenas as part of their annual offerings to the masses.

The recent International Music Summit (IMS) Report found that 39% of all festival bookings are electronic music artists. This stat was up from 33% in 2021 and indicates that the electronic music industry is riding high, coming out of the pandemic.

At the same time, electronic acts such as Prodigy, Bonobo, Orbital, Leftfield, Fatboy Slim, Hot Chip, and Overmono are currently on the road touring both indoor and outdoor venues, while the likes of Chemical Brothers, Rudimental, and others have plans for later in the year.

“Yeah, if you look at the live figures, electronic music is about 30% up – it’s really strong,” says Maria May, head of electronic at CAA. “It’s a genre in itself; it’s a serious business. They can’t pretend it’s just a party anymore. Electronic music is worth being a part of and investing in.”

May credits early dance music festivals in the UK around millennium time, such as Creamfields and Homelands, as being barometers for what was to come. “The desire for people to meet in a field and dance under the stars is pretty tribal, isn’t it?” she says. “Now there’s lots of organised gatherings for everyone – young people are always going to need to come together and let go.”

“Incorporating a visual element into my shows has been an essential aspect of my artistic expression”

Time was when electronic dance music was thought of as a bit of a joke by the mainstream music industry. Dance acts were made to mime their hit rave tunes on the UK’s Top Of The Pops television show, and there were mutterings from the rock quarter that dance wasn’t ‘real’ music played by ‘real’ musicians.

The DJ has now been elevated from the music provider in the corner of a dark club, more or less on a par with the glass collector, to bona fide mainstage superstar. A DJ act – such as Skrillex, Four Tet, and Fred again.. – can now headline Coachella and doesn’t always need eye-popping visuals to carry a show.

However, many DJs positively embrace the multimedia aspect of their art. “Incorporating a visual element into my shows has been an essential aspect of my artistic expression,” Irish producer and artist Rebūke tells IQ. “I am trying to find ways to evoke emotion and create a unique atmosphere, and by adding visuals, I can transport fans into another world. The visuals I create serve as an extension of my music, allowing me to tell a story and evoke specific moods that complement it.”

He continues, “Each visual I design plays a part in the story that aligns with the theme of the music. The aim is to engage fans on multiple sensory levels. This year, in Mexico City, we depicted a TV head man with glass shattering, symbolising the breaking of societal norms and inviting fans to question their own perceptions. In the second visual debut at The Brooklyn Mirage in New York, the story continues as the man walks through a portal into a new world, representing a transformation and the exploration of uncharted territories. These visuals are sync’d with the music in real time, allowing me to fuse sound and imagery.”

Breaking Down Barriers
There is still some resistance from some areas of the music industry to booking headline DJs for mixed-genre festivals, however. “It’s an ongoing battle for agents and the more conventional rock & roll promoters to get them onside, and in the most part, the general vibe is to not let a DJ on the mainstage,” says May. “But when you have a DJ who is selling more records than all the live acts put together on the festival, there is an argument to say that if a DJ is putting on a really
good show – visuals, all the rest of it – then it can be on a par with a rock band. I’m sure people who play guitar music will kill me for saying this, and it’s not the same – but it’s still valid entertainment.”

“As a result of the pandemic, people started realising that night culture is more than dancing at night — it’s a way for young people to experiment and explore who they are and find their identity”

“The rise of electronic music has broadened people’s perceptions of what music is and how it’s experienced,” says Monty McGaw, head of electronic at Untitled Group events company in Australia. “DJs can be captivating; people love witnessing skilful mixing and track selection. Electronic music events often carry a broader message or theme, such as political messages, equality, or the importance of community. Balancing these diverse elements requires careful planning, coordination, and creativity to deliver a compelling and memorable live experience.

“Electronic music emerged from communities that were often marginalised and underground, which initially limited its acceptance and recognition by the mainstream music industry,” McGaw continues. “The cultural and societal factors surrounding its origins and early development played a role in the industry’s initial resistance to accepting it as a legitimate genre deserving of equal status.”

Meindert Kennis, co-director of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) – the biggest annual gathering of the electronic music industry – reckons that the prevalence of electronic music on daytime radio in the Netherlands and the UK over the past 30-odd years, and in the USA over the past 15 years after the David Guetta-spearheaded explosion, has led to electronic’s widespread acceptance.

“Also, as a result of the pandemic, people started realising that night culture is more than dancing at night — it’s a way for young people to experiment and explore who they are and find their identity,” he adds. “It’s something you do preferably under cover of the night and is a real important part of the development of young people.”

Kennis additionally makes the point that when the pandemic took away young people’s opportunities to go out and gather together at music events, mental health problems began to accumulate. “Especially in the cultural and government worlds, they started realising that once you took it [away], problems started to appear with young people, and they realised that this is playing a really important part [in] young people’s development,” he says.

“Electronic music, unlike some other genres, has the ability to transcend language and cultural differences”

ADE began in 1996 as a way of bringing the Dutch electronic music scene together and has grown exponentially into the largest gathering of the electronic music industry in the calendar year.

“ADE has become a tentpole moment – the whole industry has a big red circle around October, when it’s going to be here in Amsterdam,” Kennis says. “So at least for those days, Amsterdam is the centre of the electronic music world.” The existence of conferences such as ADE, IMS in Ibiza, WMC in Miami, plus BMC and AVA in the UK, and others, helps strengthen the industry and also aids the local scene where those events are based. “If you have such a moment, that’s very beneficial for a local artist,” Kennis says. “And for night culture as a whole in general.”

International
Electronic music has found it easier to find global appeal than most other musical styles. “Electronic music, unlike some other genres, has the ability to transcend language and cultural differences,” says Monty McGaw, noting that it is less dependent on lyrical content. “I think this has helped to facilitate its global appeal and contributed to its profitability,” he says.

And it comes in many guises. One glance at leading digital download platform Beatport’s sub-genre categories – from tech-house to amapiano, drum & bass, dubstep, trance, techno, and more – gives an indication as to the variety on offer.
“Electronic music is prone to different genre popularity waves,” concurs McGaw. “One year this genre is popular, another year another genre is popular, but what remains is the experience — which is also a link to the live sector.

“It’s more skewed towards the experience of being at a festival or being at a live electronic music event, which is different to a more traditional rock or pop concert,” McGraw continues. “That experience has a really profound influence on how people spend their free time. So, it doesn’t really matter which genre is popular at any one time — that whole feeling of being yourself just stays.”

“The mainstage artists are the ones who sell the tickets, and we’re now building strong headliners who are creating legacies”

Drawing parallels with artists and musicians who make the majority of their revenues through live performance, experts acknowledge that since the bottom fell out of record sales in the early noughties, producers have had to become DJs, helped in their efforts by the growth in the number of electronic music events, as well as the festival business mushrooming internationally.

“Festivals really added to our business – a lot of artists’ careers are based on festivals that take place throughout the summer,” observes CAA’s May. “There’s still room for the DJ in a dark tent with nothing but lasers as well: that still creates a moment at a festival. If you’re a young kid stumbling into that and discovering it for the first time, it could be as magical as the mainstage. But the mainstage artists are the ones who sell the tickets, and we’re now building strong headliners who are creating legacies.”

Many electronic artists now incorporate audio-visual elements into their shows. “Everyone – such as Peggy Gou and Solomun at Sónar this year – is bringing a big production show. They want to express themselves musically but also visually, so that’s very natural, and the facilities are better than ever,” says Enric Palau, co-founder of Sónar, the specialist electronic music festival that’s set a gold standard for discerning bookings since its inception in Barcelona 30 years ago.”

Indeed, Palau observes that the electronic scene can offer a more sustainable approach to touring. “Festivals such as ours provide the equipment for [artists] to come with their shows with very little equipment; sometimes they only need to bring the content, because we provide the set-up for the live show,” he says. “So, with Bicep and Aphex Twin, for instance, they really want to bring the live visual aesthetic of their show. It’s important for the artists.”

Sónar is obsessed with sound quality, Palau adds, and makes the point that many pop acts, such as Beyoncé and The Weeknd, are now 90% electronic.

“If we like the music and think it’s bringing a new thing to the scene, we’ll book them no matter if they’re underground or commercial”

Sónar booked the Beastie Boys and a newly rebooted Kraftwerk in its early days and has often been the place where a lot of international artists, like Goldfrapp and M.I.A., played their first shows out of the UK. But otherwise, they haven’t been tempted to go down the commercial route and book more mainstream dance stars such as Tiesto, Swedish House Mafia or David Guetta. “Probably the closest we got to that EDM phenomena was bringing Steve Aoki at the very beginning,” says Palau.

“If we like the music and think it’s bringing a new thing to the scene, we’ll book them no matter if they’re underground or commercial,” says Palau’s colleague Ventura Barba, Sónar’s executive director. “We’re happy that we’ve discovered a whole raft of artists that then became really big players – whether it’s Daft Punk or other artists where we did their first international shows at Sónar, and they went on to become superstars. This has happened quite a few times.”

Global Appeal
With multiple editions all around the world, Sónar encapsulates the boom in demand for electronic events.
In addition to traditional hubs such as Ibiza and Las Vegas, Berlin has a huge electronic scene, especially for techno. Amsterdam is also a recognised capital, while in the Czech Republic there’s an annual drum & bass festival called Let It Roll, which attracts international attention.

Spain, meanwhile, is big on breakbeat, Australia and New Zealand have big tests around New Year, and back in the northern hemisphere, Croatia has myriad dance festivals in the summer, while EXIT in neighbouring Serbia has been part of the genre’s makeup since the year 2000.

More recently, Israel has grown in stature, Egypt has hosted many events, including a recent show by Carl Cox at the Pyramids, while some of the huge investments pouring into Saudi Arabian nightlife have been targeted at the electronic community.

“The importance of inclusion and diversity is being listened to more, from Ibiza to festivals globally”

And as one of the fastest growing genres for events, China and India have become emerging electronic markets, Japan is already a big player, and other hotspots like Singapore and Thailand are on the rise, too.

Basically, electronic music is everywhere; it’s gone global.

Steven Braines of touring polysexual club brand HE.SHE.THEY. reveals, “We’re now in 40 cities, which is 20 more than we were pre-pandemic, with more territories planned especially for next year. The importance of inclusion and diversity is being listened to more, from Ibiza to festivals globally.”

Braines believes that experiential events such as Elrow, Defected’s glamorous Glitterbox brand and HE.SHE.THEY. – which have a lot of performers as well as quality DJs – are particularly doing well, as are events for “Instagram moments, like Tale Of Us’s Afterlife or Eric Prydz’s HOLO show with 3D visuals.

High-end Production Values
Event production in the dance areas at festivals, such as Boomtown and Glastonbury in the UK, not to mention behemoths such as Tomorrowland in Belgium and the travelling Elrow Town, has become next level, designed for an immersive, awe-inspiring experience. Even though many music fans choose to face the DJ – and sometimes, annoyingly, film them on their phones – the emphasis is on participating in the event, rather than passively watching on. This communal way of consuming electronic music could provide the answer to the question as to why electronic music acts – specifically DJ-led ones – don’t transfer very well to TV.

“Consumer confidence and buying trends have been a challenge. A lot of people have shifted their spending priorities due to financial constraints”

This alternative way of consuming music explains why the pandemic – when the events industry ground to a halt – was somewhat catastrophic for the electronic music industry. No manner of livestreams from unusual locations could make up for the fact that music lovers weren’t able to gather together in real life.

“You cannot beat that wonderful experience of being surrounded by your peers – from every generation, across the board,” says May. “At more events I go to, there’s older people mixed with younger people, and it can be the nicest vibe. It can be three generations appreciating electronic music together.”

Untitled Group’s McGaw thinks the Internet and streaming services have had a huge influence on electronic music. “The ability to connect with people over the Internet so easily has facilitated the growth of subcultures and has exposed electronic music to a wider audience,” he states.

Everyone interviewed for this article agreed that there have been challenges coming back from the pandemic, such as people leaving the industry; a shortage of infrastructure (festival staging, portaloos, fencing etc); increased costs all round; and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“Consumer confidence and buying trends have been a challenge,” says McGaw. “A lot of people have shifted their spending priorities due to financial constraints. We’ve been navigating these changing consumer sentiments by adapting our strategies to regain and maintain the confidence and interest of our audience.”

“As long as we’re still being creative and don’t forget that at the heart of everything is the rave, then we’ll continue to do really good business”

But there’s no doubt, in general, that the electronic sector has bounced back, in many cases stronger than ever.

“We came back really healthy,” says Sónar’s Barba. “It was a little difficult to start the engine again because a lot of professionals from the industry were doing other things. But we came back very strong, reconnecting with our loyal fans but also with other audiences who we had the luxury to connect with through online channels during the pandemic. The 2022 edition was one of the best – the second-best year in terms of figures.”

The IMS Report states that the live sector in 2022 grew by $16.7bn – a huge amount. “Growth was skewed by the fact that 2020 saw a significant dwindling of live events during lockdown, rallying slightly in 2021,” the report also states.

To crunch some more numbers from the IMS Report: only 15% of all electronic festival bookings were for female DJs, a figure that is growing but is still a way off the parity that equality and fairness demands.

Overall, dance music live revenues were up 65% on 2021, reaching $4.1bn, and nearly half of total revenues came from festivals and clubs.

The future is looking bright for the electronic music live sector, then, although CAA’s May warns against complacency. “Things go in circles,” she says. “At the moment, we’ve got electronic music flying high, but are we in the lead-up to the next big indie band coming through because dance music is so everywhere?

“People’s tastes change. The future is definitely bright, because I’m not seeing a lack of young people who want to experience electronic music. As long as we’re still being creative and don’t forget that at the heart of everything is the rave, then we’ll continue to do really good business. Because young people just want to go out and dance.”

 


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Live sector fuels dance music industry growth

The resurgence of the live sector has helped power the global dance music to new heights, according to a new report.

Presented during today’s opening day of the International Music Summit (IMS) in Ibiza, the IMS Business Report 2023 is authored by MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan and puts the valuation of the electronic business at $11.3 billion (€10.2bn) – 16% higher than pre-pandemic and 34% growth year-on-year.

Festivals and clubs represented nearly half of all dance industry revenue in 2022, while Ibiza club ticketing revenue reached €124 million, up from the €80m generated in 2019, as ticket sales rose 25% to 2.5 million. However, live revenues of $4.1bn still fell short of the $4.4bn garnered in the last pre-Covid year.

“The pandemic shone a harsh light on the industry’s heavy reliance on live,” notes the report. “Now, that reliance is even higher because of live’s huge growth.”

The publication describes 2022 as “a big year overall” for the live industry, as the top 100 global tours reported a 276% increase in revenue, while Live Nation revenues soared 166%. Elsewhere, bookings for the top 100 DJs increased by 314%, according to Viberate.

“After a couple of pandemic-impacted years, the global dance music industry is back in top gear”

Electronic music artists made up 39% of all festival bookings, up from 33% the previous year, although female DJs saw their share of the top 100 DJ bookings fall from 21% to 15% in the same period.

“MIDiA Research is proud to have compiled the 2023 edition of the IMS Business Report, building on the great work of its previous authors,” says Mulligan. “After a couple of pandemic-impacted years, the global dance music industry is back in top gear and this report reflects how growth has returned across all the various aspects of its thriving business.”

The dance sector’s increase in value has also been attributed to a resurgent creator tools sector, plus music publishing, which grew more than two times faster than recordings in the previous year “underpinned by steady improvements in rates paid to publishers and songwriters”.

“Overall the indicators are positive and the future is bright, with more recovery in live still to come as well as future growth in the publishing sectors,” it states. “In addition, the long term growth of creator culture is set to make dance music even more influential on wider music culture in the immediate future.”

“We’ve always been very transparent about the business report – every year it needs to get better and better, more robust and more bulletproof”

Discussing the report with IQ ahead of publication, IMS co-founder Ben Turner predicted it would highlight a “strong bounceback” for the scene, adding that what began as a “bit of fun” had “turned into something very serious”.

“The value has become quite a talking point in the industry and the business world, with so many eyes on electronic music and so many big companies invested into it,” he said. “We’ve always admired the work that MIDiA do around music and data, and Mark’s come at it with a fresh approach.

“There are two elements to the report. One, last year’s report was a return but was based on 2021 numbers, so I expect a big uplift in terms of the actual valuation. But MIDiA have also integrated some new metrics in there based around creative economy and even music publishing, which was [previously] very lightly looked at in our business report.

“We’ve always been very transparent about the business report – every year it needs to get better and better, more robust and more bulletproof.”

Around 1,500 delegates are expected at this year’s IMS, which runs until Friday (28 April).

 


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Barcelona Beach Fest will not take place in 2023

Barcelona Beach Festival (BBF) will not be held in 2023, promoter Live Nation has announced.

The electronic dance music event, which draws around 70,000 fans to Platja del Fòrum each July, featured superstar DJs such as Marshmello, Armin Van Buuren, Steve Aoki and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike.

However, organisers say the city council has refused to grant the relevant licences to enable this year’s event to go ahead.

“We communicate with great sadness to the music lovers who have been part of this amazing family during all these years, that due to the refusal of the city council of Sant Adrià de Besòs to grant us the necessary licences, and the impossibility of finding another location with the ideal conditions to make possible the celebration of the festival within a workable timeframe, this year the BBF will not take place,” says a statement to fans.

“The whole BBF team is working hard to find a new location”

“During the seven years of the festival we have not created any problem or had any incidents within the community, and we have always respected all safety regulations, as well as the natural environment of the beach.”

First staged in 2014, the festival has welcomed the likes of Avicii, David Guetta, Steve Angello, Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Alesso, Axwell & Ingrosso, The Chainsmokers, Lost Frequencies, Kygo, Don Diablo, Oliver Heldens and DJ Snake.

On a more positive note, promoters say they are hopeful of finding a new site to host the event next year.

“The whole BBF team is working hard to find a new location and as soon as we have one, we will let you know,” adds the statement. “In 2024, we will spread smiles again, from wherever it is, so that music will never stop being our best way to celebrate life!”

 


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ID&T links with electronic music promoter Apenkooi

Superstruct Entertainment’s ID&T has purchased a stake in fellow Dutch electronic music promoter Apenkooi Group.

The strategic partnership with Superstruct and ID&T is designed to accelerate the company’s trajectory, unlocking new opportunities for the group in the areas of brand partnerships activation and events sustainability.

Launched in 2004 with a local party in the Utrecht-based Club Monza, Apenkooi’s portfolio has grown to include brands such as DGTL, STRAF_WERK, Pleinvrees, Amsterdam Open Air and The Gardens of Babylon. It also organises festivals internationally and promotes Elrow events in the Netherlands.

“ Joining a global platform of industry-leading, like-minded entrepreneurs will take Apenkooi to the next level and enable our company to seize the numerous growth opportunities within electronic music events brand partnerships and sustainability,” says Jasper Goossen CEO and co-founder of Apenkooi.

ID&T, which signed a partnership agreement with Superstruct last year, runs events such as Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake.

“We are very happy and proud to welcome so many talented and passionate people to our family. Not only does Apenkooi have an amazing portfolio with brands such as DGTL, STRAF_WERK and Pleinvrees, we also have been partners already in several festivals such as Amsterdam Open Air, Valhalla and By the Creek for many years,” adds ID&T Group CEO Ritty van Straalen.

“In addition to the many popular festivals, their in-house brand partnership agency will also become part of the group. For the ID&T brand partnership team this is a very important step to further expand the partnership portfolio with commercial and qualitative propositions.”

 


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Dance music is art

Dance music has been gradually evolving since the 1970s, embedding its influence across generations. Dance music is continually changing, uniting multiple genres, cultures, nations, and histories to create a single art form.

Therefore, not only should electronic music demand its own recognition within the arts, but it should be recognised as the one unique musical art form that acts as a conduit for all other music genres as it constantly reinvents itself.

Electronic music does not discriminate, rather it brings together, regardless of age and background. It has long been established that club and festival dance culture is a vital part of British heritage, as well as generating millions of pounds in revenue for the economy, it adds to the ever-growing nightlife tourism figures boasting 300 million visits a year across the UK.

Given the investment of many European countries in the arts sector specifically supporting and recognising the value of classic and contemporary art forms, the UK government has been under immense pressure to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts by properly funding a sector that generates significant revenues for the exchequer.

On 5 July 2020, an announcement was made by the UK culture secretary highlighting a £1.57billion (€1.73bn) arts and culture fund.

Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said, “Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries. I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”

“Electronic music has always been a popular art form that reaches a diverse number of communities, but which now finds itself excluded, even if only by narrative”

But when asked about potential support for music venues and festivals on the 9 July during Parliament, he announced the fund would “cover grassroots music venues, concert halls and indoor arenas… those wholly or mainly used for performance of live music for the purposes of entertaining an audience,” with no mention of clubs or festivals.

Sector trade bodies have continually asked for clarification from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on whether dance music clubs, festivals and events will be included, but the department has so far failed to provide assurances or clarity, so we await the details of eligibility in the coming weeks.

The industry is astounded at the government’s failure to recognise dance music clubs and events within its narrative as part of arts and culture, and continues to drive a clear message regarding its eligibility to apply for the funding in line with the live sector.

What the government fails to understand is that much of the sector operates venues that house both live and dance/recorded music events, and in many cases, they survive symbiotically in support of each other with many successful examples within the market place.

Electronic music has always been a popular art form that reaches a diverse number of communities, but which now finds itself excluded, even if only by narrative!

Surely the Government can recognise the importance of this sector to youth culture, and through the rise of the illegal rave scene recognise the value of professional regulated spaces where people can enjoy themselves and the music safely.

The industry has to now drive the agenda, as we see the tide turn between removal of risk to management of risk, it’s time to get the science to work for us.

Dance music is the world’s third most popular music genre, with an estimated audience of over 1.5 billion. But, despite the global influence and economic importance of British dance music and culture, government support and clarity on the future of the sector has so far been very limited.

 


Michael Kill is CEO of the UK’s Night Time Industries Association.

Fire Festival: the rise of the virtual music festival

Last weekend, Fire Festival provided a musical experience for a digital age. Thousands of festivalgoers wandered the grounds, listened to music across two stages and interacted with fellow attendees, all from the comfort of their own sofas.

More than 5,000 fans “attended” the event from 12 to 13 January, with 6,500 people also joining the festival’s live Discord chat.

Over 50 artists performed at the event, with headliners Ekali, Hudson Mohawke, ARTY, and Luca Lush playing along with many other underground acts and unsigned artists.

The world of Minecraft supplied the setting for the festival, which fans could attend free of charge, provided they owned a copy of the game on PC or Mac.

“Anyone with a [Minecraft] account could join and explore the festival grounds we built, fight ‘boss battles’ to gain festival merch, or watch the artists ‘perform’ at either of the stages,” festival organiser, Max Schramp, tells IQ.

Those without a copy of Minecraft did not have access to the virtual landscape, but could still “attend” the festival by tuning into the music stream on the festival website and joining the live chat rooms.

“In the end we had over 6,000 people playing Minecraft and over 80,000 people tuning into the audio stream!” says Schramp.

“Anyone with a Minecraft account could join and explore the festival grounds”

The festival proved a great success, but did not come without its obstacles. Minecraft is not optimised to have servers of hundreds of players, so the festival’s development team had to create a custom network for their servers in order to spread the load of the players, explains Schramp.

Another major obstacle faced by the team is much more familiar to organisers of traditional festivals the world over: the coordination and handling of artists. Leading up to the festival, “there were a dozen iterations of the posters, videos, and various promotional material, with some artists sending us their sets hours before they were due to play.”

Schramp tells IQ that the origins of the festival sprang from a birthday joke, after he announced that he would throw his 21st birthday party inside Minecraft. He and his friends formed a team to create Coalchella 2018, the precursor to this year’s Fire Festival.

Since then, the joke has evolved into a much bigger platform for music lovers and gamers alike, as well as developing an important social cause.

The festival organisers donated US$1750.97 – all profits from the event – to the Trevor Project, an organisation focusing on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth. “I hope that this might be a significant step in pushing the music and festival industry towards inclusivity for LGBTQ+ and underprivileged people,” says Schramp.

 


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Drugs deaths could signal end for Oz Defqon.1 fest

State authorities in New South Wales are calling for dance festival Defqon.1 to be banned after two people died from suspected drugs overdoses and hundreds more had to seek medical help for drug-related problems.

Joseph Pham, 23, from Sydney was named as one of the victims, while an as yet unnamed 21-year-old woman from Melbourne also died. There have been other deaths at the Sydney festival in 2013 and 2015.

Police in the state report that 13 people required hospital treatment, with three people still in a critical condition, while on site, 700 revellers were seen by medics at the festival. The situation prompted NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian to brand the event as unsafe and call for it to be banned from ever taking place in Sydney again.

Organisers Q-Dance Australia say they are cooperating with the authorities. The company’s website outlines its zero tolerance drug policy and carries warnings such as, “We want to make you aware that the use of illicit substances carries a range of health risks including the possibility of death, and is strictly forbidden at this event.”

Despite this and informing the 30,000 visitors that there would be “a strong police, drug dog and security presence upon entry into the event to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing,” the warnings apparently went unheeded, prompting drug testing advocates to slam government officials for their ‘head in the sand’ approach to dealing with drugs use.

“We still have young people dying needlessly because we’re doing the same old thing over and over again and we have the mechanisms that we know keep people alive.”

“I’m absolutely aghast at what has occurred,” Berejiklian said in a statement. “I don’t want any family to go through the tragedy that some families are waking up to this morning. It’s just horrible to think about.” She added, “This is an unsafe event and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure it never happens again.”

However, Berejiklian’s ‘just say no’ stance on drugs has been criticised as dangerous, while the government’s policies on drugs has been labelled as ineffective by doctors and campaigners.

Kieran Palmer of the Ted Noffs Foundation, told morning TV show Today the deaths made it clear the government’s approach of “just say no” is not working. “The difficulty now that we face is that we’ve been handling this with the same approach for such a long time,” said Palmer. “We live in one of the most privileged countries in the world and we still have young people dying needlessly because we’re doing the same old thing over and over again and we have the mechanisms that we know keep people alive.”

Advocating on-site drug testing programmes, he added, “We have the evidence. Shutting down festivals, getting tough on drugs, telling kids to ‘just say no’ doesn’t work. It doesn’t change behaviour.”

 


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Japanese clubs caught in crossfire of ‘war on dancing’

Around a dozen small Japanese venues are thought to have been affected by a recent police crackdown on unauthorised late-night dancing.

Official attitudes to public dancing in Japan are governed by the so-called fūeihō law (fūzoku eigyō-tō no kisei oyobi gyōmu no tekiseika-tō ni kansuru hōritsu, or ‘businesses affecting public morals regulation law’), a piece of legislation that dates to the post-Second World War US occupation and primarily regulates sex work.

While some of the fūeihō’s provisions were relaxed in 2015 – allowing clubs with dancing to open past midnight, after approval from local authorities – the revised law still requires venues to apply for a nightclub licence, the granting of which is conditional on the club’s size and location. The 2015-spec fūeihō requires that clubs have more than 33 square meters of uninterrupted floor space, as well as be located in a designated dancing area.

Among the unlicensed venues to have been raided by Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department since the start of 2018 are Aoyama Hachi, a small club in the Shibuya neighbourhood which has been throwing parties for more than 20 years, and the expat-friendly Geronimo ‘shot bar’ in Roppongi, according to the Japan Times.

Most of the affected venues are believed to be small dance music clubs with live DJs.

Reports the Times:

So we’re back to the dark days of the early 2010s, where venues have to post notices advising customers that “excessive dancing will be prohibited,” and police can march up to anyone swaying to the music and demand to know if they are harbouring more sinister intentions. It’s a silly place to be, and a drab, depressing one too.

Similar laws regulating dancing are in force in Brussels, albeit in the form of a tax: venues can be charged €0.40 per person dancing per night. “At first I thought it was a joke, but it is apparently real,” Nicolas Boochie, of the 170-cap. Bonnefooi venue, said in November 2016. “The city has several times sent people round incognito to count the number of dancers.”

 


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Coalition Talent, Ministry of Sound join forces

London-based booking agency Coalition Talent has entered into a joint venture with dance music colossus Ministry of Sound for a range of new live events and brand partnerships.

The “wide-ranging” JV, which sees the two companies partner to “share their resources and expertise”, additionally sees the Ministry of Sound events staff relocating to Coalition’s central London offices. It follows a recent focus by Coalition on building events brands alongside its roster, with recent projects including the Coffee House Sessions concert series and club nights Pure Music Live and Just Can’t Get Enough ’80s, the latter a joint venture with DJ Sara Cox.

Coalition, from 2014–2015 part of The Agency Group (now UTA), represents artists, radio DJs and TV personalities, including Sara Cox, Charli XCX, Pixie Lott, Nick Grimshaw, Trevor Nelson, Edith Bowman, Scott Mills, the Wombats, the Hoosiers and Kodaline.

“Ministry’s brands and reputation, coupled with Coalition’s talent relationships, expertise and newly expanded team, will deliver a whole new range of world-class music events”

“I couldn’t be more proud to enter into this joint venture with Ministry of Sound,” says Coalition Talent CEO Guy Robinson. “This iconic brand has been a huge part of my journey in the music industry, from working with them on talent through to more than a few lost nights at the club.

“We look forward to welcoming the Ministry of Sound events staff into our brilliant team here at Coalition. Our joint focus will be to maximise opportunities for their current offering, and develop additional products to reach new markets, as well as more extensive partnerships with touring DJs and live artists.”

Jonathan Bevan (pictured), CEO of Ministry of Sound, adds: “We are delighted to be launching this new partnership. Ministry’s brands and reputation, coupled with Coalition’s talent relationships, expertise and newly expanded team, will deliver a whole new range of world-class music events.”

 


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