LAS VEGAS - The first day of Insomniac Events' inaugural EDMBiz - a hastily arranged, two-day conference for the electronic dance music industry, leading into to the promotion company's marquis festival, Electric Daisy Carnival, June 8-10 - bore no markings of a hastily arranged, inaugural event.
Over 400 attendees, according to the event's organizers (and verifiable to the naked eye), converged on the fourth floor of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, for panels, keynotes and catered lunch (with a cash bar). They ranged from booking agents to ticketing software specialists to publicists; total novices to titans of industry, like the day's keynote speakers, Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino. With a balance of old guard and young blood, the attendees and panelists were a microcosm of American EDM in 2012: An industry trying to adjust to a new and continually shifting set of players and rules.
Day 1 Highlights:
Skrillex & Others Get RE:Generated Courtesy of Hyundai
On the "Brand Integration in EDM: The Hyundai Initiative" panel, Steve Shannon, VP of marketing for Hyundai, reported receiving sage but simple advice from his own kids about marketing the brand's new Veloster: "Don't be lame."
The panel offered a case study of the innovative RE:Generation project, which paired five top DJs - DJ Premier, Mark Ronson, Skrillex, Pretty Lights and the Crystal Method - with artists from other eras and genres to create new works. The resulting tracks and film project have received over 15 million views in total (aggregating YouTube and other video platforms), Shannon said, including over 150,000 views on Hulu of the long-form documentary.
While some of Shannon's team at Hyundai wondered, "Where's the car?," Hyundai largely "stayed out of the way," said Matt Ringel, panel moderator and Managing Partner of New Era Media & Marketing. The goal was to make the brand's young target make it feel like it wasn't being marketed to, and to position Hyundai as "an enabler" of a project that, like the Veloster, "celebrates innovation," said Shannon.
Fans bought in, voraciously consuming content like the Skrillex/Doors collaboration "Breakin' A Sweat" (which also appeared on Skrillex's Bangarang EP). And GreenLight Media & Marketing, which created the project and produced the film with Richard Bishop of Red Light management and Hyundai, will be doing another project in association with the Grammys next year. In short, Shannon said, the campaign has been "the gift that keeps on giving."
Perry Farrell Gets Jacked, Marc Geiger Flies Solo
Perry Farrell was scheduled to speak about the evolution of festival culture with his Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger. But right before the talk was scheduled to start, EDMBiz organizer John Boyle announced that Farrell would not be attending: Someone alllegedly broke into his house the night before, and apparently stole his car. Geiger flew solo, speaking openly about the changing EDM market, and likening it to the tech bubble of the '90s.
The Pasquale Rotella Elephants In the Room
- While the majority of the "Creating The Experience: The Ascendance of the Music Festival" panel was spent heaping praise on panelist - and Insomniac president and EDC creator - Pasquale Rotella, some sticky issues did some up: Namely radius clauses, and pending charges. EDC frequently blocks artists from playing anywhere near its events within a given period, raising the ire of many agents and artists. "We have normal challenges you guys might have with Coachella," said Rotella, gesturing toward panel moderator Skip Paige of Goldenvoice. "Luckily we have a unique event; acts want to play so they work with us on our requests. It's challenging at times; [EDC] New York was more challenging because [competitive EDM festival] Electric Zoo was there. There is a point where there's too many [festivals]."
Then, during the Q&A period, an audience member addressed what he called "the elephant in the room" - Rotella's March arrest on corruption charges related to EDC's 2010 event at the L.A. Coliseum - asking if he would have done anything differently. "I don't think that way," said Rotella haltingly. "I wouldn't go back and change anything because I wouldn't know what to change." Paige jumped to his defense, saying to great applause: "Dancing is not a crime. People need to embrace it, and those who don't will be left behind."
TheAudience's Insights Into Fans' Online Habits
- Oliver Luckett, founder/CEO of social media firm theAudience, put on a show of his own during the "Circuit Breakers: Breaking EDM Artists," sharing great insights into the online habits of music fans.
"The act with the most [Facebook] Likes does not have the most power," he said. "The total number is meaningless. It's both a rewarding and punitive algorithm: If you berate your 10 million fans [with marketing messages] that reach quickly gets very, very tiny. You reach 16% of your fans with a post, but great content overcomes this; that's the hidden secret. It's really about engaged users."
Luckett also advised artist and managers to try some digital fearlessness: "Fail fast and try something new," he said. "If a tree falls in the Internet, nobody hears it."
Additional reporting by Lauren Lipsay