BAM! Just like that the annual get-together for all involved with the dance music industry is behind us. This year, too, the Amsterdam Dance Event and conference gave us 5 days filled with inspiration from panels and networking opportunities, resulting in new connections and, of course, extensive nights which center around the abundance of dance music. Just like previous years, we’re reporting the highlights of our experiences and findings of this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event!
Numbers (still) don’t lie
Like previous installments, this ADE increased in figures as opposed to its former year: 2.200 different artists, 140 unique locations in Amsterdam and over 450 conference speakers exemplify the growth, with the estimated 375.000 visitors as the most decisive figure for scale.
And in the rankings, too, there was a sign of Dutch prevail: Martin Garrix reigns at the top of the DJMAG 100, being crowned as best DJ in the world by the audience. Starting at the age of 15, just 5 years ago as a bedroom producer, Garrix (or just Martijn, as his parents call him) is a textbook example of the fast pacing industry.
As for economical value, the industry is still growing as well. With an estimated turnover for the local Amsterdam economy of 55-60 million Euros, it shows significance beyond just making A’dam look good. Understandingly, the city council cooperates very closely with ADE on a jurisdictional level, granting 80 venues the possibility to keep their doors open until 8:00, so that events can provide for a elaborate party experience.
One of the success factors of ADE is its organic set-up. There is no centralized booking and planning for all the events planned these days. Only the widely diverse conferences are both organized and paid for by the ADE organization itself. All of the dance events are curated by ADE and, if approved, included into the official ADE program. This makes it a bit more difficult for brands to tap into and take part in ADE, but the end result for the consumer and industry are immense nonetheless.
Beyond the dance floor
So with an industry ever expanding, come greater responsibilities.
But ADE doesn’t shy away from it, on the contrary – they cleverly anticipate on these new responsibilities. They answer with their special ADE Green conferences, which started right on day one. The conferences and panels were addressing subjects such as waste reduction and recycling, safer drug use and lastly, but as evenly interesting, a poop panel, where the ecological benefits of ‘metabolic waste’, also regarded as black gold, were explored.
We also came across an interesting topic of discussion in regard to brands at Eurosonic: how large scale events, such as festivals and big club events, are approached as a testing ground for products and social behavior, which can hold value to brands. Through large scale events huge amounts of data is being produced and delivered in a relatively short period of time. This is information can help brands understand consumers in a new way.
The algorithmic age and streaming services
DJ’s are the music curators of the first hour. Selecting the best tunes and taking people on a musical journey is part of their duty. This was the subject of the inspiring keynote of legendary DJ (and Creative Director at WeTransfer) Gilles Peterson. Starting out as a underground DJ somewhat 35 years ago, pushing through previously unheard music on the radio. Back then DJ-ing wasn’t considered a career path like it is nowadays. Despite this fact, Gilles gained popularity as a DJ and was able to create a culture around him, which resulted in him having to play 7 nights a week. He used the money to pay for the studio time of artists signed to his label. Nowadays he’s still playing across the globe and also hosts a successful weekly radio show on BBC. After all the years Gilles has been involved in the industry, and the changed it went through, he’s still viewed as one of the most trending curations in his widely ranging genre.
A great quote that came by in Gilles’ session was: “It takes a good DJ to fill a dance floor, but it takes a great DJ to clear a dance floor and then fill it up again”.
One of the changes that occurred in recent years, is the advent of streaming services. Music curation is taken to a whole new level by the different streaming services, as music is on the one hand easier accessible to a wider public. This changes the role of the curator. On the other hand streaming services gain data about preferences from their users. Knowing that way people select music nowadays, for example, is mainly based on context: Music for working out, relaxing piano tunes and road trip music, to name just a few. Rather than genres being the distinctive factor, states of emotions now seem to be taking over that role. This is mostly executed by algorithms, but humans are, luckily for us all, also still involved in the curation process. Spotify has found an interesting balance between human curation and algorithms to have their consumers discover new music. Creating both playlist based on context as on music you’ve listened to before.
As it currently stands, this is winning them the race. Others, like Apple Music, are still trying to compete, but the streaming business’s fast pace is keeping Spotify in a dominant position. However, new attempts are also at hand. Amazon is only just launching their streaming service, at a lower fee and with their own knowledge on algorithms. The numerous innovations, changes and the necessity to claim the number one service are evident results of the earlier mentioned fast pace of the music industry. This also makes it difficult to predict in which direction things might move to, but we’re interested in the way it will play out and how the landscape will look in a year from now.
Brands in the Dance arena
So how do brands connect in the dance industry? We found some interesting relations, which are shown below.
Once you’re in the big league, companies like Facebook and YouTube will drop by your doorstep to show you how to make your content more ‘social’ and impactful. DJ and entrepreneur Laidback Luke spoke with enthouiasm about this form of brand partnering. On a different note, platforms like Vice (the MTV of this age) use the engagement data on their editorial content to advise new brand partners how to tailor their content to their platform. The collaborative nature of business could help brands forward and position themselves better within the music industry.
On a short term you can argue this brings more relevant, enjoyable content. However on the long term will it only bring more of the same? In other words, where’s the disruption coming from?
Brands & Artists
An interesting recent development, is that a new breed of ‘Rockstars’ are emerging from and living on YouTube and other online platforms. As some people stated, more and more social influencers are offered similar deals as would have to musical artists. They provide the same exposure and address the same target audience. And a lot of times, the deals are easier to set up, since the ‘Art’ of the artist doesn’t get in the way. Which in a sense is a good thing, because it leaves brands with the opportunity to go beyond the x-millions Facebook users and look for a creative story to tell together with the emerging artist.
Brands & Events
With festivals and events growing their international footprint, we see new international deal models rising. The sports industry is still leading in this matter. An example is the collaboration of AB InBev and Tomorrowland, the biggest festival in Europe that prides itself with their more than 200 different nationalities of visitors. AB InDev implemented the same model they used for the world cup. For certain markets, depending on size, target group, among other factors, they pushed a partnership with Budweiser, and for others the more local beer Jupiler. Centering brands around events through the use of music to us is not unfamiliar, as you might know. But it shows that this type of branding is being picked up more and more.
New developments are being made every day, but the annual ADE assemblages different players within the music industry, which transforms Amsterdam into a hub where both business and the future of the industry are being debated and negotiated. This is exactly where the real industry professionals reside, and we found ourselves pretty much right in the middle of these environments. We came to the conclusion that we are well rooted in the different touch points in the industry, providing us with the necessary insights throughout the year. Regardless of the type of business, the music is the driving force, of course.
Our ADE 2016 highlights
As they say in Music Business, there’s no Business without music, so do have a listen to some of the gems we had a blast dancing to during ADE. We’re looking forward to next year!!
‘Feel The Rhythm’, Def La Desh
‘What’s Going On’, Marvin Gaye
Making the cut