Rio Music Conference Draws Top-Shelf DJs, Thousands of EDM Revelers During Carnival
Rio Music Conference Draws Top-Shelf DJs, Thousands of EDM Revelers During Carnival

The entrance to the Rio Music Conference trade show (Photo: Eduardo Llerena)

Electronic dance Music (EDM) may have reentered American mainstream in 2011, but it also expanded globally. Witness Brazil which this year hosted EDM festivals such as Ultra,Creamfields, and the Rio Music Conference (RMC). Currently underway, RMC is back for the fourth year with three days of free trade shows and panels, which began on Feb. 14, and seven days of live shows that end this Saturday (Feb. 25). RMC's expansion speaks to both Brazil's booming economy and the genre's growing global impact.

This year RMC expects to draw 30,000 to watch 60 national and international acts perform on two stages at the Marina da Glória. The Copacabana stage is reserved for big names such as Armin Van Buuren, Roger Sanchez and Steve Angello, while the Ipanema stage presents a cast of underground and rising stars, including The Twelves, DJ Hell and Carioca Funk Clube.

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Guilherme Borges, one of the RMC directors, is particularly excited about Saturday's line-up "It promises to be special -- we'll have a great mix on the Copacabana stage, with Felguk and Dexterz who have an exiting live show. On the Ipanema stage, we'll have a real carioca [the term for locals from Rio] party called 'Madureira Disco Club', with the Brazilian Djs HUM and Corello. They mix electronic music with hip-hop and rap."

A novelty this year was the choice to schedule RMC's parties during Rio's infamous Carnival where Samba, Brazil's traditional form of music, is celebrated. "All the main carnival activities happen during day time, by nighttime the only thing left to do is to watch on TV the Carnival parades or balls -- both of which are made for people from outside Rio." Says Nonato. "At this point, we realized that Cariocas and many others wanted to profit from Rio's nightlife in another rhythm: Electronic Dance Music."

Much like its American counterpart, Miami's Winter Music Conference, RMC promotes discourse amongst industry professionals. Research for the event starts a few months before the conference with a series of "Road Shows" that take place across Brazil. These events are used to discover and discuss relevant EDM subjects for each region of the country, "Brazil is very large and each city has a very different degree of maturity," says Borges. "[Road Shows] are also a way to unify the Brazilian industry and promote the exchange of experiences between regions."

Delegates attend a free panel (Photo: Eduardo Llerena)

RMC selects individuals who dedicate themselves to developing the music scene in their respective towns. Borges points out that the concept of the "ambassadors" has played a more significant part in this year's conference: "In this edition, delegations came from almost all Brazilian states and many countries around the world," he says. "The industry has realized the importance of meeting and has adopted RMC as this pole."

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"RMC is without question the center of convergence of these different markets, says Pedro Nonato, international Director of RMC based in Paris. "It represent a fantastic opportunity in many different and creative ways for brands to stand out in this booming and exciting market through exclusive content and activities."

Since 2009, RMC has brought together electronic music professionals to one platform giving them an opportunity to showcase products and services and connect with others in the industry. Nearly 5,000 delegates attended this year's business fair to listen to artists such as Baile Funk Legend Sany Pitbull speak for the Red Bull Music Academy, Brazilian minimalist Gui Boratto discuss the world of production and German DJ/producer/entrepreneur Ellen Allien on the role of the female DJ in today's industry. The fair, according to its organizers, generated approximately $R30 million (about $18 million) in business over three days, which is R$10 million ($5.8 million) more than in 2011.

RMC organizers recently conducted a study of three big festivals, 16 medium events, and 500 smaller EDM events held in the main Brazilian nightclubs. Published on February 15, the survey indicated that EDM's growing popularity in Brazil is an offshoot of the country's booming economy (which grew 7.5% in 2010) and its strength as a touring destination. Ticket vendors reportedly collected R$879 million ($515 million) in 2011 for electronic music events. Sponsors invested R$ 460,8 million ($270 million) in these festivals.

We've all seen this guy... (Photo: Eduardo Llerena)

According to the survey, the audience for electronic music in Brazil increased 56.64% in the last year, crediting the number of new festivals. In 2011, Brazil hosted well-known EDM confabs such as UK's Creamfields and Ultra Music Festival, while Brazilian festivals such as Rock in Rio, Planeta Terra and SWU dedicated stages to the growing genre. If recent market trends are any indicator -and rumors of other American festivals expanding to Brazil- then the numbers are expected to increase in the next few years.