In the fall of 2010, the international dance music industry was locked in a bitter custody dispute. At risk: ownership of the month of March in Miami.
On Nov. 16, the industry confab Winter Music Conference announced that it was splintering from the Ultra Music Festival, a three-day all-ages concert featuring DJs, live acts and big-name headliners like the Cure and Duran Duran. For more than a decade, the events coexisted during one week, allowing artists, fans and industry people to converge and temporarily turn Miami into dance music's capital city. Now, they'd be separated by two weeks.
Less than a month after WMC's bomb-drop, DJ/producer supergroup Swedish House Mafia -- Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell -- made one of its own. Through a press release and social media postings alone, the outfit announced the One Night Stand at the Masquerade Motel, a 10-hour party during what was now UMF week. Going head-to-head with UMF, and disregarding WMC altogether, the move was bold-even more so because SHM didn't have a venue or a lineup yet. The group promised an "extravagant" light and video show, and its usual dose of sex appeal. "Masks On Please," the invite commanded.
But the gag order was part of the plan. "We used the strategy of teasing tiny pieces of info, to create that feeling of adrenaline to go and snag your ticket," SHM manager Amy Thompson says. It worked. The first block of 2,500 Masquerade tickets went on sale in mid-December for $50, sold out in 22 minutes and crashed the website handling the sales. At the end of February, the act revealed the lineup: friends and favorites that included Calvin Harris, Armand Van Helden and Pete Tong. Two weeks later, SHM unveiled the venue: the 11,500-square-foot tent housing Funkshion's Miami Fashion Week events, quite literally on South Beach, just off Ocean Drive. On March 8, the last block of the 12,500 available tickets went on sale at $75 and sold out in 11 minutes.
"I'm not going to lie," Thompson says. "It was a surprise."
Video: "Save the World," Swedish House Mafia
A surprise, and a statement -- about dance music, the changing face of fan-dom and just what music business success looks like in 2011. At the time of the Masquerade sellout, SHM had been known as an entity for less than a year, having signed an international deal with EMI in July 2010. The group released a mere three singles, which have collectively sold 1.3 million copies internationally, according to the act's U.S. label, Astralwerks. A fourth, "Save the World," was released May 17 and is shaping up to be the biggest yet. It's sold 20,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and jumps 40-28 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart this week. The video, featuring lovable canines carrying out some street justice on an assortment of bad guys, is at 11 million YouTube views, and was just added to MTV Hits and mtvU.