A Look Back At The EDMbiz Conference 2013 & The Future of EDM

*written by Crystal Garcia for Electronica Life
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June 2013 saw the return of the 2nd annual EDM BIZ conference hosted by Insomniac Events,  preceding the two days before the Electric Daisy Carnival 2013. The conference which was held for two full days at the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas on the eve of the largest dance music festival in North America, consisted of panel discussions and keynote conversations with industry managers, agents, promoters, artists, labels, producers, journalists, start-up tech platforms, advertising and branding agencies, and even one very “PLUR” venture capitalists. A few EDM super fans were even invited to speak on one of the panels about creating the greatest night of your life.

A melting pot of what the EDM industry has created was undoubtedly in attendance at the conference. Everyone from industry executives to budding entrepreneurs to loyal fans were invited to engage and converse amongst each other to discuss the purpose of the conference, the future and innovation of Electronic Dance Music. Topics of debate included artist to fan engagement and relationships, the importance of social media in the curation of EDM, content v.s. distribution, best practices for branding, licensing & advertising, festival safety, and most importantly sustaining the reputation and credibility of the EDM community in this period of exponential growth and expansion.

The first day hilariously started off on “rock star time.” Perry Farrell, former Jane’s Addiction frontman and co-founder of Lollapalooza, was almost an hour late for his one on one discussion with partner and friend, also co-founder of Lollapalooza and head of music for William Morris Endeavor, Marc Geiger. Farrell made his points clear while knowing how to stir up laughter from the audience. He is known to be the dreamer, and his partner Geiger, the brains behind making these dreams come true. Together as a team they built Lollapalooza on the whim of a dream and established the festival in Chicago.

Considering that Lollapalooza resides in the birthplace of house music, it seems only appropriate that the dance music tent has grown to be the most popular of stages at the the festival. Speaking of house music, Farrell chimes in that he can’t wait to see the end of the times of the  DJ “fist pumping”, the drops and explosions of confetti, and instead for the community to embrace nu-disco, deep and tech house as growing genres with the credibility to be the next big thing. He also mentions that he sees the future of stages at festivals as an interactive experience that the fans feel they’re a part of, instead of staring at lasers and LED lights the entire set. It seems that Farrell is certainly on to something that could positively evolve the future of all festivals.

During “On the Beat” the EDM press discussion panel, Senthil Chidambaram, CEO and founder of Dancing Astronaut had some interesting insights to share. Senthil shared that he feels that blogging and reporting about the EDM scene is as if it consists of experts writing for experts. Fans are so passionate about the culture and always chime in on what should and should not be included,as if they’re experts themselves on a particular topic. Senthil also shared that website analytics have determined that only about 15% of visitors are females, leaving the majority of visitors to be males in the age range from 16-25. These statistics invoked a discussion questioning how it could be possible that males dominate activity in the digital space of EDM, while females appear to share the same passion for the culture, if not seemingly more sometimes?

Even if this statistic is completely correct, it’s clear that it won’t last for long as a female influence is beginning to inspire the industry. This past year Skylight, a non-profit organization aimed at empowering and supporting female entrepreneurs in the EDM industry, was introduced in the panel, We Are Skylight. The founders of Skylight, industry veterans Kerri Mason and Stephanie LaFera, introduced three aspiring female entrepreneurs who have all created their start-up businesses online, and are paving the way for the future of female entrepreneurs in both the physical and digital realms of the industry.

Growth and Investment in EDM was also a hot topic panel in the discussion of the future of the industry. On the panel  were a few investors, venture capitalists and even the recently widely sought after, Shelly Finkel. Finkel is vice chairman of SFX entertainment, which recently acquired ID&T. Industry powerhouse ID&T, is the dutch company responsible for Tomorrowland, Mysteryland,Sensation, and Q-dance, which are all rapidly beginning to make a name for themselves in the states. Finkel stated that there is no reason for anyone to believe that we are in the beginning stages of an “EDM bubble”. He believes that dance music is here, and it’s here to stay. In 1 year, the EDM industry has grew from 5.5 to 6.7 billion in 2013, and is believed to grow into a 23 billion dollar business within the next five years. Multi-billion dollar venture capitalist Todd Chaffee also chimed in that at the moment, curation and music discovery of EDM is a problem, and that will have to change for the industry to evolve as fast as it’s growing.

Innovation will undoubtedly play a key role in the future of the EDM industry and culture. Throughout various panels of the conference, the discussion continuously led back to the topic of the creative evolution of EDM. Farrell wasn’t the only speaker who believed the days of the drops and fist pumping DJ’s must come to an end, as  it can only suffice for so long. There were discussions of focusing on smaller name DJ’s with talent that just may not have the social networking smarts, and proactively focusing on getting them heard and known. Developing engaging artist to fan relationships was also spoken of. To create relationships that make the fan feel they contribute to what a DJ does, and allows them to be interactive in the festival experience. Hearing all of this was literally music to my ears, it’s about time isn’t it?

For anyone that may have doubted the commercialization of EDM, I can reassure you that the future looks brighter than ever before. While there are vested financial interest and headlines of new mergers and acquisitions in the industry almost every week, it is all a process of innovation and growth. Industry leaders are well aware that the commercialization of EDM has put a bad taste in just about everyone’s mouth, and the focus is now on developing and creating authenticity in the industry. I even began to doubt the future of this industry, but after hearing the passion from all the speakers to move this culture forward in a positive light, the future looks brighter than ever. I even had the opportunity to speak to Todd Chaffee at the Encore Night Swim event the night before the first day of EDC. We discussed many pressing issues in the industry today and what the future holds,and I can honestly say that I have never been so inspired as I was when I heard him speak of the potential of EDM. Todd even gave me a message to tell anyone I know that may doubt the future of EDM, “Tell them not to worry, EDM is going to change the world for the better!”

The  EDM BIZ conference returns to The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas this upcoming June 17th-19th , and is expected to be bigger and better than ever. In addition to new panels, formats and speakers, this year’s installment will expand to include a full-scale expo featuring EDM culture’s most sought-after music and lifestyle brands. This year also marks the first time that EDM BIZ will expand to take place over three days instead of two days as in the past two years. The 2014 EDM BIZ Conference & Expo is surely not an event to be missed for anyone interested in learning the in’s and out’s of the industry and looking to network with the best and brightest in the EDM world. Visit edmbiz.com for more info & registration.

EDMbiz Conference & Expo 2014 Trailer