(L-R): Jacob Schulman (Dancing Astronaut), Junior Sanchez, Lainie Copicotto (Aurelia Group), Sarah Polonsky (Vibe), Lawrence Liu (Astralwerks), and Rob Principe (Scratch Music Group) at the SoundCTRL EDM Roundtable.
Not so deep underground the Manhattan streets, tech-savvy EDM influencers gathered at W.I.P. for the latest SoundCTRL event, an EDM roundtable that featured Lainie Copicotto (President & CEO, Aurelia Group), Sarah Polonsky (Senior Editor, Vibe), Rob Principe (CEO & Founder, Scratch Music Group), Jacob Schulman (Editor in Chief, Dancing Astronaut), Junior Sanchez (DJ/Producer) and Lawrence Lui (Sr Marketing Director, Astralwerks Records).
The panel started off on a bit of a somber note, after some panelists learned about Gary Stewart's (New York club legend and founder of Gary Stewart audio) passing upon their arrival at the club.
Jesse Kirshbaum, CEO of the NUE Agency, moderated the panel and kicked things off by asking why dance took off in the U.S., a question many are still struggling to answer. Panelists seemed to agree that a combination of factors lead to dance's mainstreaming, including a poor economy and hip-hop and R&B's embrace of dance music. Sanchez credits hip-hop/R&B for giving dance music a face, saying, "it became something that was actually sellable and sustainable."
The conversation quickly turned to social media and the overall changing face of monetization in the music business. Both Copicotto and Polonsky emphasized the necessity for data ownership in the social space, Copicotto noting that "we're all preparing for a day when Facebook doesn't exist anymore," and Lui noting that social media shortens the life cycle of a single, album, or show, while also providing greater and more immediate access to consumers within the newly-shortened life cycle.
Festivals and gigs quickly took over in the spotlight, and panelists shared their "dream gigs", noting that headlining Tomorrowland, Coachella, or having enough brand equity (and money) to start your own night were all dream gigs for different DJ's and producers. Merchandising was a hot topic of conversation, with Shulman suggesting that DJ's give some merchandise away for free, and Copicotto retorting, "this is a music business, not a music friendship," then going on to share examples of how she overcame low merchandise sales for her clients (including Paul Van Dyk) by combining merchandise with audio or ticket packages. Lui chimed in noting that 360 deals were an important monetization structure for many labels, and noting that "it's not about the album, it's about the experience."