As ravers from around the world poured into Las Vegas, everyone in the electronic music industry, from big shots to hopefuls, were settling into their seats at the EDMbiz conference at the Cosmopolitan hotel.
James Barton, head of electronic music at Live Nation, was scheduled to open the talks, but his wife was in labor so he skipped town and veteran Vegas club expert Sean Christie of the Wynn's XS and Surrender filled in. In his keynote convo he was confident about the future: "For all the people who say the bubble is popping, that's not happening."
A Day 1 highlight came early with the #Twentysomething panel, featuring movers and shakers in the electronic music industry under the age of 30. It was moderated by Krewella's manager, Jake Udell. Homie rolled on stage sounding like a Beastie Boy, dressed like a late 90s hip-hop hype man, and speaking with the cadence of a motivational speaker. He noted that himself and Martin Garrix's manager Michael George shared a hotel room last year and paid for their passes to the conference. Now they're both on a panel. Baller. Udell's final note was that, despite all the antiquated models held over from the old music industry, a hit record is still the holy grail and always will be.
After that came a discussion with some major label folks. People in our generation have a tendency to write off everybody who works at a major label as being some sort of bloodsucking vulture, but the crew selected for the panel were all pretty legit and erudite and seemingly not evil. Neil Jacobson of Interscope Records was the most bullish about the past and future of majors. A paraphrase: "All of us have lived through the decimation of the value of the copyright, but this business is about to explode when we open up true streaming in China, India, Russia, Malaysia. We're talking about huge pieces."
Sean Glass, head of indie imprint Win Music, casually clad and bespectacled, presented an interesting contrarian's position during the panel. He's someone who represents an independent ethos but grew up swathed in the trappings of the old music industry. "I don't wanna get involved in EDM, he said. "I wasn't an EDM guy and I'm still not an EDM guy"
Next, Tommie Sunshine moderated a docile chat between booking agents. Sunshine comes off as the kind of guy Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski hangs out with when he's not bowling, and he's cultivated a sage-like persona after decades as a DJ. A quick summation of the panel conversation in the following phrase: "Am I gonna get the money up front?"
After that, Nielsen's Tatiana Simonian got stat-happy on us and it was awesome. Do yo know that Nielsen isn't just a box old people put on their TVs to record how many episodes of Murder, She Wrote they watch? Their eyes are everywhere and they have a pretty infographic for every bit of minute data you could ever imagine. You wanna know the summer fruit consumption habits of 50-60 year old women in Delaware who listens to Gwen Stefani and make 75-100k a year? Nielsen knows. The answer is lots. Do you know that facts are 72% more true when presented through an infographic?
After that, people talked about money, we saw a presentation about 7UP and THUMP's own Zel McCarthy shook up a media panel by gifting the audience a blind item here and there and speaking the truth about "Disco Sucks" and that EDM word. Lastly, the words "streaming" and "authenticity" popped up a lot, about five different people claimed to have 'discovered' deep house last year, and most people still feel kind of icky using the phrase "EDM."
Who's ready for Day 2?