home Europe, Music, North America The Ibiza Music Summit and the future of electronic dance music

The Ibiza Music Summit and the future of electronic dance music

The Ibiza music summit was started by Pete Tong in 2008 because he wanted to create a “credible gathering of the leading talent from the world of dance and electronic music but also to extend the island’s season is a positive way and create a week of unique and original events to showcase a variety of the arts.”  Over 3 days a few hundred people gathered in the Grand Hotel in Ibiza, for 3 days of talks, lectures, panels and of course parties.  The IMS also brought together artists, major international brands and Hollywood players.

In the last decade, many jobs in music have been lost, due to illegal downloading and conferences like these are needed to help understand the future of the music business. The music industry is declining due to internet piracy, but in terms of sales one sector is increasing:  for dance music the future looks bright. A lot has to do with the phenomena of Lady Gaga, but also thanks to David Guetta, and Swedish House Mafia who have helped bring dance music to the masses by working with hip-hop stars (David Guetta with the Black eyed peas) (Swedish House mafia with Tiny Tempah), taking dance music global.  Additionally, with or without hip-hop stars, Dj’s are now stars in their own right such as Deadmouse, a marketing genius who currently has millions of fans on twitter, with numbers increasing every day. There’s even been an increase of dance music festivals in the last couple of years such as Electric Zoo, Electric Daisy festival and HARD Tour. On average 4 billion dollars US per year is the amount made from the dance music sector.

According to  IMS Business report 2011, in the UK, EDM single sales have grown by over 50% since 2007  EDM Artists & DJs have grown their Facebook fanbases at a massive rate over the past 12 months; David Guetta now adds the equivalent of a festival crowd to his Facebook fan group every single day, while most EDM artists have at least quadrupled their fan base on Facebook in the last 12 months.

The festivals organizer, Pete Tong, the famous A&R, Radio One broadcaster, and Dj even now a film has his name (he’s nothing like the character) called: All Gone Pete Tong, a film about a international superstar DJ called Frankie Wilde who goes deaf.  I first met Pete when I was around 16 through my half-sister Petrina Khashoggi.  I even sent him the first track I wrote “Daisy” which went to number 20 in the club charts and he was sweet enough to write me some comments back.  Pete Tong was voted by Mixmag as the most important person in the industry, and has predicted and shaped many a singer and various songs’ future.  We sat down for a chat, next to the bar in the Ibiza Grand Hotel where the conference took place.

Pete tells me that dance music has finally arrived in the USA, and that electronic music has taken over Vegas.  He explains “Vegas wants to keep people in the casinos, Frank Sinatra and all Broadway stars made it to Vegas, as well as celebrity chefs, Cirque Du Soliel, even 50 Cent, along with various other celebrities such as Celine Dion now its DJs who are being hired”. Pete says 10 years ago he was giggling at the scale of it, and was impressed by the madness of the shallow place. He says it’s  “one big tourist centre—it’s the Ibiza of America. Although it’s not an island, it’s where people go to misbehave and have a good time, it’s full of huge hotels with huge club that need to be filled.”  The clubs may be different with VIP tables but the orientation is now changing with the Dj at the centre of the of party rather than the VIPs.  All the big DJs are being booked as main attractions in Vegas in order to help fill the hotels and the casinos. For example,  Lee Dagger from Bimbo Jones who has had over 72 number ones world wide and has remixed the likes of Rhianna, Kylie, and Lady Gaga says, “The USA is definetly taking off in the dance world, I’ve been working more and more in the US both on in Djing, and song writing with various artists, and I’ve just been booked to DJ in Vegas.”  Where once The Prodigy went to the USA people were laughing, now half of festivals are filled with electronic acts.  It seems if you want a hit, best to team up with a mega DJ, and you should go meet them in Vegas.

Agents too cluster at the Ibiza Mussic Summit.  David Levy just started a William Morris/Endeavor dance section for the famed talent agency, giving the audience an insight into the road he took to become the most powerful agent in dance music. He’s most famous for representing Paul Oakenfold, who he discovered when Paul Oakenfold was an A&R. Around that time he found that around 20 Dj’s had a value in the sets they recorded, when he looked at the list he realized he represented a good percentage of the Dj who were valued highest.  One client he wanted to represent was Luciano but sadly it didn’t work out.

On explaining what made him so successful he says, “I had a street mentality and was always pushing the underdog, I made it up as I went along. I lost acts all the time, but always new ones would show up – the trick is to keep going.”  He was also good at getting artists paid, when they had not been paid, and has a reputation for being “scary’ on the phone, but laughing it off when asked he said “when people met me they’d say “I never expected you’d be like this.”  His motto is “be the best you can be.”  One agent asked if he understood why smaller agents felt threatened by him:  “I understand them, anyone can do the same, I am just raising the ceiling.”

He says the trick of being a good agent is not always about money and monetizing on a Dj’s career, and that he sometimes encourages his clients do give “one hell of a party for the hell of it” and to give clubbers an invaluable experience, “for example Fatboy Slim aka Norman Cook, is doing a gig in Italy to 3,000 people on the beach and knows it will be amazing experience, and one of his best gigs a year even if not that well paid.” Norman Cook also happens to be one of David’s favourite clients, “as he’s such a gentle man.” He also loved working with   Bjork “who is very creative”.  In terms of who he chooses to represent he says, “I am always on the look out for somebody unique looking for what is different about that person – and in order to take them on, I have to know how I can make a difference, it’s not only about them being amazingly talented.”  For the future, he says  “am just getting started” – to which, the room sat up in excitement.

Amy Thompson, Swedish House Mafia’s manager, the team that make up Swedish house mafia are: three DJ’s and producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. Formed in late 2008. Amy  gave some insight into how Swedish House Mafia and their team (Mafia) became some of the most famous DJs on the planet. She says it all might have started when, Eric Morilo went on holiday on Wednesday and Swedish House Mafia took over his spot for one night.  That night Pacha went insane, the club exploded, it was bursting with energy.

On their road to success, Amy analyzed the big bands like Coldplay and how they behaved; so Swedish House Mafia adopted the same strategy – to follow the business model of a band. She didn’t think there was any reason why electronic artists couldn’t be as successful as a band, so they made a clear strategy to achieve a goal outlining the steps in a 3-5 year plan.  They created a touring schedule like a band, created a merchandize range and they also created different shows for the difference audiences they were playing to, such as their “festival” show is very different from one of their DJ shows. They also control the production of their shows.  In terms of PR, the Swedish house mafia never close down, they always keep their act in a to be continued mode, so their story is always unraveling… keeping fans’ interest peaked to hear their next project. Amy also says  “half of the trick is listening to what people say, and then reacting to it.”

She says the team that make up Swedish House Mafia are very much individuals but when they come together as Swedish House Mafia they do 12 shows a year and pacha.  They always support each other. Before deciding to do a track (famous tracks include mega hits “one”, and “Miami to Ibiza”), Amy says “ it’s not just about deciding to work with some famous pop star mate, they really need to feel the track, and they have at least 100 emails per track between the Mafia, before they decide to start working on it.”

The VIP element is another interesting factor in dance music.  In Miami for example, at the Swedish House Mafia show they put the VIPS at the back, but the people who have spent all their money to buy at ticket get to see the show all at the front. The VIPS get told, “you can’t go there”. Amy says with a smile that the “VIPs love being told they can’t go there, so this strategy works for everyone.”

One of Ibiza’s most famous nightclub Space, was a day and night nightclub once operating for 22 hours, has the same VIP policy as Swedish House Mafia. Pepe Rosello, the owner and a real character. had the room laughing with his anecdotes of having his music stolen at Customs.  He said “I was always very anti – bourgeois, and music makes us equal.  We all have different feelings, and need to respect one another, love and passion happens to everyone…” so when running his club he had a policy of  “No VIP areas and no cameras in the club so that people could feel free and equal. Everybody dances together no problem- this was before Youtube.”  He says, “sure people ask for special areas and security – but most feel at home and feel free dancing between everybody else from princesses to rock stars” who have visited his cub.

Despite learning these about key secrets to success, if you are an aspiring DJ, make sure to remember to be Green. Ritchie Hawtin gave a talk about the importance of being a green DJ and digitally, not with Vinyl, and traveling to the club using public transport.

Ibiza is electronic’s music most influential destination and the IMS was an insightful trip in learning about current electronic music trends in the beautiful conference hotel, along with beautiful pop stars with green hair, pink tattoos and other mad looks.  In the room there were some amazing parties and DJ’s showcasing their talent. David Guetta was amazing, while Pete Tong’s show stared at 4:30 and everyone was still going at 6.  One friend of mine said, “you got lost and I even forgot to look at my watch.”  As long as electronic dance music remembers to give people that feeling, it will continue to prosper.

Front page photo of Space nightclub, Ibiza, by Kevin S.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

2 thoughts on “The Ibiza Music Summit and the future of electronic dance music

  1. Hi, I was wondering if you could let me know what the source of the statement “On average 4 billion dollars US per year is the amount made from the dance music sector.” comes from? We are trying to analyze some of the value of the EDM industry and finding numbers has been pretty hard to do.


  2. Hey Jorge, I’m doing the same at this point as you were doing in 2011. Could we get in contact and see if we have something to exchange? Best regards, Miad Ballai (That’s how you find me on Facebook also).

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