Painting the town
Last week was that time of the year again. That time where the city is bustling with events and conferences, sleep is scarce and electronic dance music is everywhere. We are of course talking about Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). Dubbed the biggest club festival in the world, the 2014 edition featured 300 events, 2,200 DJs playing at 121 venues across Amsterdam catering to 350,000 visitors. The whole industry gathered and walking around the city networking was as easy as breathing.
Judging by the increasing number of people traveling to the festival, we’re well passed the point where we have to wonder if dance is just a hype. The question now is how to sustain and commercially grow it in the best possible way.
Dance & brands – “Don’t be on it, be in it”
‘The industry is looking for healthy business models, and commercial partnerships are surely part of this model’ (Jacqueline Smit, CEO Radio 538).
One major player that seems to be successfully capitalizing on this trend is SFX. But according to SFX CMO Chris Stephenson, it’s not so much the electronic music that leads this revolution, as it is social media. Stephenson emphasizes the need for a solid idea, backed up by integrated media channels. He urges brands to immerse themselves in the culture of their target audience. Don’t be on it, be in it. At SFX’s Mysteryland festival for example, Brooklyn’s local creative scene curated part of the festival, increasing relevance for local subcultures. Another one of SFX’s latest projects is the Corona Sunset partnership: a series of international beach parties in collaboration with Beatport to find the ultimate sound of the beach.
Dance & Brands keynote-speaker Eveline Aendekerk, executive director of Dance4Life, called ADE the place to be for every marketeer wanting to know what makes the illusive Millennial tick. With our own music & brands colour sergeant Michiel Cremers in one of the many ADE panels, we had something to say ourselves. And we are proud to say that MassiveMusic has been involved in two of the presented cases: Armin van Buuren and Heineken announced the continuation of their partnership aimed at making moderation cool.
And KLM showed their commitment to dance music by partnering up with that very same Armin van Buuren, as well as with the Amsterdam Music Festival itself and the DJMag Top 100 DJ list.
The show is on
The biggest discussion at this year’s ADE seemed to be about EDM mass culture uniformity versus artistic credibility. The press, music industry and artists had strong opinions on the subject and weren’t afraid to put it out there.
At the ADEV street rave, the annual demonstration during ADE, a free and non-commercial alternative for ADE promoting subcultures, the underground folks enlightened Amsterdam with their flares and danced off the beaten track.
Hugo Langras, CEO of Montana ECI calls his star client Afrojack ‘an artist, not a musician’. The hugely popular Dutch DJ dropped a whopping € 500,000 to put his ZiggoDome show on par with big name concerts where music is often only part of the overall experience.
Since the Golden Age, the Dutch haven’t been the cultural leaders we are once again today, with our EDM DJs taking the global dance industry by storm.
Creating fans through technology
Festival organizers are constantly looking for ways to better engage with their audience. RFID lets people connect and increases security as well as crowd control. But more importantly, it offers the audience a richer user experience. Furthermore, it improves communication between artists and between organizations and their audience. Other RFID possibilities are cashless payment systems, interactive LED shows, loyalty programs connected to wristbands and mobile devices that are turned into real-time backstage interfaces. But there are still hurdles to be taken, the biggest one being lack of infrastructure (limited WIFI, automation and energy). This is where the world’s Telco and tech companies have a potentially huge role to play. While technology is changing the festival experience in a broad sense, big changes are happening in the visual department as well. BEAMLAB is ADE’s subdivision focusing on the visual developments in EDM. The most striking innovations mostly concern self-written software that gives VJs more real-time control over their shows, seamlessly integrating music and visuals.
Synk is responsible for the visuals at Sensation. Their concept increases VJ control and features a platform for upcoming and established artists to showcase their creative work.
Versum lets you control and create real-time music and visuals by flying through a digital space with a joystick.
ANIMA 1 iki created an interactive planet that studies how people react to digital creatures.
But ADE isn’t just about bigger and better. It’s about being responsible and sustainable, too. As a part of the ADE GREEN subdivision, ID&T launched their Tapwater Project: unlimited fresh water at the Amsterdam Dance Event, as they strongly believe that water belongs to us all.
Michael Lang (founding father of festivals, organizer of Woodstock) spoke at the ADE University about opportunities for festivals to minimize their ecological footprint and to make people adopt the notion of being an essential part of a bigger common goal.
The next generation
Of course, we contributed to the ADE fun ourselves. Together with CitizenM, R&S Records and BLEND, we hosted our Portfolio Night ADE Edition. This is where we gave young musical talent the opportunity to present their portfolios to the 'masters of the trade' and ask for feedback. Let’s say they inspired us. Here are the photos of the evening.
Last but not least, here's is the music that surprised us and made us stay up till late.
‘Feel The Rhythm’, Def La Desh
‘What’s Going On’, Marvin Gaye
Making the cut