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IMS’ Ben Turner on the future of electronic music

International Music Summit (IMS) co-founder Ben Turner has urged the business to look at the development of artificial intelligence in music as an opportunity rather than a threat.

The debate has dominated the conversation since a song that simulated the voices of Drake and The Weeknd was removed from streaming services due to a copyright claim.

The complexities of AI will be a leading topic at the 14th edition of electronic music conference IMS Ibiza, which returns to the White Isle’s Destino Pacha Resort from 26-28 April. And Turner believes the rest of the industry could learn a thing or two from the genre’s willingness to embrace technological innovations.

“The reason electronic music seduced me was its independent spirit and culture. That spirit of independence has been a big part of what we do,” Turner tells IQ. “Electronic music has always been about embracing new technology by its very definition, and it’s had first mover advantage quite often as technological shifts have happened because of that independence: Web 3.0, metaverse, NFTs and now AI.

“Electronic music has never shied away from embracing technology when a lot of the music industry just pulls the shutters down”

“Electronic music has never shied away from embracing that technology when a lot of the music industry just pulls the shutters down, like we’re seeing now with the Drake and Weeknd thing. It’s just remove-remove, takedown-takedown, block. And I get it, I understand that millions are invested in these artists, but AI is going to eat us all alive unless we learn to play with it and we learn to control it, and collaborate, experiment and educate.”

He adds: “There are many people within electronic music playing with AI and enjoying it. So I think the rest of the music industry should learn a lot from what the electronic space is doing. Equally, I’m also nervous about what this means on many levels.”

IMS’ Understanding The Unstoppable: AI and Music Unravelled… panel will seek to demystify the issue by bringing music executives together with “some of the best brains from the AI world” – including lawyers.

“There’s a big saying around the music industry now about AI, which is that the lawyers are going to make all the money for the next few years and have fun trying to stop it,” explains Turner.

“People are not booking these artists trying to tick a box, they’re booking them because they sell tickets and are bonafide headliners”

Speakers at IMS will include Grimes, Warner Music Group’s Max Lousada, Tap Music co-founder Ben Mawson, YouTube Music’s Dan Chalmers, CAA’s Maria May, UTA’s Hannah Shogbola and Tom Schroeder of Wasserman Music, with around 1,500 delegates expected.

The summit, which will also see the unveiling of the annual IMS Business Report, will conclude on 28 April with seven-hour open air party IMS Dalt Vila, which marks the opening of Ibiza’s summer season. Acts will include CamelPhat, Anna, BBC Radio 1’s Jaguar and IMS co-founder Pete Tong. On a related note, Turner suggests that mainstream music festivals’ attitudes towards booking dance acts have evolved over time.

“I feel like there was a long period of time where festivals felt, ‘Okay, we need a DJ on the stage. Who shall we book? We need to show some recognition of DJ culture at big festivals,'” he reflects. “But now, I don’t think people book Calvin Harris because he’s a DJ, they book Calvin Harris because he’s one of the biggest and best artists in the world, and I think that’s the shift.

“People are not booking these artists trying to tick a box, they’re booking them because they sell tickets and are bonafide headliners. It just happens that they’re a DJ, but they’ll put on as big a show and as great a show as any other act headlining the festival. It’s become so immersed into mainstream culture now that it’s a less marginalised genre, it doesn’t really work to keep it in a corner anymore. It’s just what young people expect to see as part of the blend of going to a crossover festival.”

“Africa and the Middle East are the final two parts of the world that are only really beginning to truly embrace this music in a huge way”

In closing, Turner identifies the Middle East as a key emerging market for the dance music scene.

“The Middle East region is fascinating, inspiring, and exploding at a high speed in terms of events and festivals and now production,” he says. “There’s just so much excitement and energy coming out of that whole region. What you’ve seen with the festivals in Saudi Arabia is this huge growth of young people embracing this music and hearing DJs for the first time in their lives.

“We used to say the final frontier was Latin America, and then the final frontier was Asia, but actually, Africa and the Middle East are the final two parts of the world that are only really beginning to truly embrace this music in a huge way.”

 


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Live Nation Sweden’s Summerburst called off

The 2023 edition of Sweden’s Summerburst festival has been cancelled by promoter Live Nation.

The electronic dance music staple had been slated for 2-3 June at the 75,000-cap Ullevi stadium in ​​Gothenburg, with acts such as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Galantis, Martin Garrix, Steve Akoi, Purple Disco Machine, Icona Pop, Meduza and Joel Corry.

However, its cancellation was confirmed in a message to fans on the Summerburst website, just days after its most recent line-up announcement.

“Unfortunately, we need to inform you that this year’s Summerburst will not take place as planned,” it says. “All ticket purchasers will be refunded. Words cannot describe how grateful we are for your support. We hope to see you all again soon.”

“We have decided to focus on the other festivals that take place during the spring and summer”

Organisers elaborated on the reasons for the decision in a statement released to Swedish publication Dagens Nyheter.

“We have decided to focus on the other festivals that take place during the spring and summer,” says a spokesperson.

Launched in 2011, Summerburst had been held in stadiums in both Gothenburg and Stockholm. Returning last year for its landmark 10th edition after a three-year break due to Covid, artists included Marshmello, David Guetta, Afrojack and Alan Walker.

Live Nation Sweden festivals still taking place over the summer include Sweden Rock Festival (7-10 June), Lollapalooza Stockholm (29 June-1 July) and Way Out West (10-12 August).

 


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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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NI’s Belsonic team launches Emerge Music Festival

The team behind Northern Ireland’s Belsonic concert series has unveiled the new two-day Emerge Music Festival.

The 20,000-cap electronic music-focused event will be held at Boucher Road Playing Fields, Belfast from 27-28 August with headliners Eric Prydz, Disclosure, Peggy Gou and Patrick Topping.

The first year will see more than 40 acts across three stages, including the likes of Kettama, Mall Grab, Michael Bibi, DJ Seinfeld, Dusky, Special Request, FJAKK and Rebekah.

“The electronic music scene is one that has grown steadily in Belfast over the 30-odd years that I’ve been promoting in the city”

“The electronic music scene is one that has grown steadily in Belfast over the 30-odd years that I’ve been promoting in the city with my Shine brand, and it’s grown exponentially over the last few years,” says co-promoter Alan Simms of Shine Productions. “Belfast is one of the most fertile and dynamic scenes of its kind in the UK or Ireland. We’ve promoted many large scale outdoor electronic events in recent years but always wanted to do a huge multistage event of this kind.

“Feedback from our audience suggested that a huge appetite exists for a unique production of this kind in Northern Ireland. We’re lucky to have some of the world’s biggest names in dance music on our inaugural line-up of Emerge Music Festival, most of whom we’ve been working with since their very first club shows in the country.”

Day tickets are priced from £55 (€66), with weekend tickets available from £95 (€114).

The 15,000-cap Belsonic returns to Belfast’s Ormeau Park from 13-26 June with headline acts such as Iron Maiden, Gerry Cinnamon, Calvin Harris, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi.

 


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ID&T to receive coronavirus insurance payout

Netherlands-based electronic dance promoter ID&T will receive an advance insurance payout of €1.3 million to compensate for lost income due to the corona crisis.

The promoter claims that as a result of the cancellation of a number of events of its subsidiaries, it has suffered damage consisting of costs already incurred or owed and loss of profit.

ID&T was forced to cancel this year’s editions of festivals including Awakenings, and the promoter’s longest-running electronic dance music festival Mysteryland, due to the pandemic.

The promoter’s insurers, Nationale Nederlanden, Reaal and Amlin and Chubb, originally argued that the cover taken out by ID&T had a corona exclusion clause.

However, on 29 June, a judge ruled against the defendants, ordering a preliminary payout of €1.3m while valuation company Troostwijk and a loss adjuster arrives at a definitive compensation.

Troostwijk originally estimated that the promoter would have lost more than €11.5m by September due to the coronavirus measures. However, though the judge did not dispute that ID&T has a significant decline in income, the total amount was questioned.

It was decided that ID&T could claim an advance based on an estimated damage amount of €2m in total, on the condition that it provides a bank guarantee for that amount for the benefit of the insurers. The insurers are appealing.

Troostwijk originally estimated the promoter lost more than €11.5m until September due to the corona measures

The ID&T Group includes the companies b2s, ID&T Events, Q-dance, Monumental (Awakenings), Air Events, Art of Dance and VD Events. ID&T organises approximately 80 events a year, including festivals such as Mysteryland, Amsterdam Open Air, Vunzige Deuntjes, Thunderdome, Defqon.1 Weekend Festival, Awakenings, Decibel Outdoor and Masters of Hardcore.

Earlier this year, ID&T announced a management reshuffle which saw the company’s former COO Ritty van Straalen succeeds Wouter Tavecchio as CEO.

A number of campaigns have launched in the Netherlands in an attempt to draw government support for the country’s struggling live sector.

The Dutch live business announced it will participate in Belgium’s Sound of Silence campaign, which calls for supporters to change their profile pictures to an orange “Sound of Silence” cross and tweet with the hashtag #SoundOfSilence.

The country is also taking note from Germany’s initiative, Night of Live, which will see music-related buildings illuminated in red on 25 August.

The Netherlands relaxed its coronavirus regulations from 1 July, removing the capacity limit for seated indoor and outdoor events, provided fans have undergone health checks before entry.

The capacity limit for events that do not undertake health checks increased to 100 for indoor venues and 250 for outdoor shows from 1 July, while festivals in the Netherlands have to obtain licences from local authorities before being able to resume.

Nightclubs and discos remain closed until 1 September – which was the original deadline for the ban on large-scale events. The rules for clubs and similar venues will be reassessed at the end of August.

 


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