Billboard Live Music Summit

EDM Magnate Pasquale Rotella Talks Further Expanding Insomniac in 2015, Festival Safety

Founder/CEO of Insomniac Pasquale Rotella attends the 2014 Touring Conference and Awards
Michael Seto

Founder/CEO of Insomniac Pasquale Rotella attends the 2014 Touring Conference and Awards, The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on Nov. 19, 2014.

At Billboard's Touring Conference & Awards, Rotella says deals have been closed to host 'pop-up theme parks' in new markets.

During a panel Wednesday (Nov. 19) at Billboard's Touring Conference & Awards in New York, Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella talked about his vision for electronic music in 2015. It includes adding festivals in budding international markets like Mexico City and Asia, hundreds of club shows, and turning into a premiere online destination for all things EDM. 

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The panel came on the heels of a significant announcement about Rotella's Electric Daisy Carnival, which brought an estimated $338 million to Las Vegas this year. For comparison, SXSW brought roughly $315 million to Austin, Texas, and is markedly longer than the three-day EDC.

Rotella said Insomniac grew from 20 to 100 employees in the past two years. The company currently hosts six or seven carnivals around the world and 15-18 festivals. Although he plans to add more next year, he's moving with caution. "We're saying no to a lot of opportunities," he said. 

Safety was a topic of conversation, and Rotella said he'll continue to host 18- and 21-plus festivals that employ lots of precautions, including what he calls "ground control," which is when young people who have some medical training roam the grounds to check on attendees and make sure they're all right (without any threat of arrest).

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"Education is next," he said. "We're trying to find the perfect way to do that ... but we don't do these events so people can get high." Of course, the vast majority of people who attend Rotella's events are 18- to 35-year-olds, who "are people who experiment, no matter where you are," he said.

When asked about Insomniac's brand identity compared to other Live Nation-owned festival organizations, such as HARD Events, Rotella said Insomniac reaches beyond the traditional concert format. "We're like a pop-up theme park," he said of his festivals. "We're about the experience."

He shook off the idea that EDM events had come to a saturation point and pointed to astounding ticket sales (last year, EDC sold 400,000 tickets in record time without releasing a lineup) and the evolving nature of underground dance music. "The sound is changing," he said, pointing to a less commercial EDM movement on the horizon with deep and future house producers like Tchami and Oliver Heldens at the wheel. 

Finally, while it was clear that the company's digital strategy is a subject of internal focus, he didn't give many specifics. The intention, it seems, is for the site to serve as a one-stop shop for tickets, artist news and event coverage of both Insomniac events and those of its competitors. 

"We want to be a resource for everything dance music," he said. "24-7."