Electric Daisy Carnival founder Pasquale Rotella gave the shakes to artists and agents, and raised the eyebrows of fellow event promoters yesterday, by declaring that his interest in booking known DJs was waning.
"Our strategy moving forward is we don't want to book the [big] guys," he said on the "An Agent and Five Promoters Walk Into a Room" panel, during Day 2 of EDMBiz, the two-day industry conference hosted by his Insomniac Events. "I don't want to be a promoter. My passion is not selling tickets and making money. I want to create an experience. You don't need to book the big acts who sell out arenas."
"You might want to stop right there," half-joked AM Only President Paul Morris, who was moderating the panel. AM Only shed-fillers Tiësto and David Guetta are headlining EDC Las Vegas this weekend, with several of its other clients filling out the rest of the around 200-name line-up.
Even while pulling back his own support of artists, Rotella seemed to pooh-pooh the summer's slate of DJ-fronted arena tours, featuring EDC headliners like Afrojack, Avicii and Kaskade.
"Tours are a new concept for DJs," he said. "The Swedish House Mafia show at Madison Square Garden was pretty awesome, but there's only going to be a handful of DJs who can pull it off."
Later, when an audience member asked about the most important three elements of a successful party, Rotella responded with "the right venue, the right team, having a good relationship with the city you're in."
Chuck Flask, talent booker for Detroit promoter Paxahau's revered Movement Electronic Music Festival, said "Talent is number one for sure in Detroit," causing a murmur of agreement across the panel.
"Burning Man has no talent," countered Rotella. The leave-no-trace desert festival is a model for Rotella, who reportedly attends every year. He even created an award -- the first annual EDMBiz Leading The Way Award -- to honor Burning Man organizers' charitable efforts.
Rotella spoke about the Insomniac Discovery Project, which grants unknown DJs coveted time slots on EDC stages, based on 30-minute mixes. The contest, launched this year, was judged by Rotella. While he spoke about the quality of the submissions, Flask interrupted.
"Are you going to do a stage with these people?" he said. "You can't just do a party with people no one knows about."
But Rotella didn't back away from his position, which was reflected in a long tome sent to artist reps on Wednesday night, reinforcing that EDC's team of 500 performers were free to jump on stage at any point in their sets.
"The DJ is important and has a job to do, but I want the budget to bring in art and production," he said during the panel. "We balance through negotiation. They get higher fees somewhere else, but they feel our shows are special."