The International Music Summit, a industry confab for professionals and musicians working in electronic dance music, wrapped up its second of three days of panels and presentations in Ibiza with a host of EDM business executives that included SFX’s Shelly Finkel, Ultra Records’ Patrick Moxey and WME’s Marc Geiger.
Started five years ago by DJ and BBC figurehead Pete Tong, IMS attracts artists and industry professionals from across the globe to the European dance music scene’s summer epicenter. The conference serves as a platform for debate and discussion on the future of the industry. In April, IMS debuted a one day conference in Los Angeles, IMS:Engage, that served as redux of its annual Ibiza event as well as an American outpost in a market where dance music has exploded over the last few years.
On Thursay Finkel, who also spoke during the LA iteration of the conference, hinted as he did in April, that SFX would be announcing new acquisitions soon, though demurred as to what they would be.
WME’s Marc Geiger declared an end to the underground era of dance music during his keynote on Wednesday, answering questions about what comes after the recent “boom” of the genre’s popularity. “DJs started out as the everyman, but they're not anymore - they're stars,” Geiger said. “We need more stars.”
Independent market researcher Kevin Watson gave a presentation that cited figures for the American phenomenon, including an estimated $600 million in estimated annual earnings for Las Vegas larger clubs that feature DJs. Watson also reported a 36% growth in digital sales of electronic music tracks from 2012 over 2011. Watson estimated that the electronic music industry is now worth around $4.5 billion a year.
Patrick Moxey of Ultra Records. (Photo: Courtesy of IMS)
For his part, Moxey denied that all of this growth is making this once-niche market too big to fail. “There is no bubble to burst, because everything you see is organic,” Moxey said during his keynote. “The music is just getting stronger."
Daft Punk was perhaps the largest presence on the island, though the robot DJs themselves where not physically there. Moxey lauded the successful campaign for both “Get Lucky” and the album Random Access Memories, released Tuesday through Columbia Records (and set to debut at No. 1 next week). Earlier this year Moxey became the global head of electronic music for Columbia parent Sony, when his Ultra Records partnered with the major in a broad, global partnership.
Hosted at the picturesque Ibiza Gran Hotel, a UNESCO heritage site, IMS has traditionally been a summer kick-off for the European-oriented dance music industry in its seasonal home. But with the changing economic landscape and shift in balance from Euros to US dollars, IMS has accordingly shifted its focus to include more US-related ventures. That shift isn’t necessarily positive. Tomorrow’s panels will include a topic with the leading question “Is the American Style of Doing Business Killing the Heart of Dance Music?”
Much of IMS’s interests include guarding the “heart” of dance music. IMS organization’s Ben Turner is also the co-founder of the industry group, the Association for Electronic Music, which seeks to “make a lasting difference” in the moment of electronic music’s boom. While at IMS, AFEM announced additions to its advisory board, including Pedro Winter of Ed Banger Records, Avicii manager Ash Pournouri, Lohan Presencer of Ministry of Sound and Horst Weidenmuller of K7 among others.
Idris Elba, the actor, occasional DJ and erstwhile recording artist gave the penultimate keynote on Thursday. Many DJs – like Mobilee Records founder Anja Schneider and UK techno master Eats Everything – served double duty, speaking on panels and performing at official after parties at night. London’s much-buzzed duo Disclosure made their first Balearic appearance of the season at Cipriani Ibiza on Wednesday night.
While it had originally been announced that Groove Armada would record the IMS 2013 theme song (an annual tradition awarded to one lucky artist each year), they were replaced by Nile Rogers. Hot off his successful collaboration with Daft Punk, Rogers' theme got the remix treatment by Eats Everything
There is a U.K. dominance at IMS, as evidenced by the moderators, including Tong and fellow BBC Radio One personality Rob da Bank. The inclusion of Moxey, Geiger, Finkel and other Americans like Ultra Records’ David Waxman and manager Kurosh Nasseri leave no doubt that IMS is looking across the pond more than ever.
The exoticness of the locale dictates a certain exclusivity, however, especially for Americans. And, at €360 (roughly $465), the ticket price is significant, especially when it also requires a hotel stay and presumes a considerable amount of evening spending at the island’s notoriously expensive clubs. Given that much of the days’ events can be tracked through the radio broadcast or IMS Ibiza’s own voracious tweeting, it’s clear that attendees are paying for the opportunity to bump elbows with the EDM world’s heavy hitters as much as they’re paying to hear them speak.