Claude VonStroke Talks Corporatization Of Dance Music: 'Live Independent of the System' (Exclusive)

The Dirtybird leader explains why his label's events steer away from "the corporate politics of all the raves."

Claude VonStroke, founder of acclaimed house music label Dirtybird, attributes much of his dance brand's success to remaining independent of corporate culture in the rave scene.

Amid recent news that HARD Events founder Gary Richards would no longer be continuing his partnership with Live Nation after this weekend's 10th anniversary HARD Summer festival, VonStroke, who has played many HARD events, including the Holy Ship! cruise, had some poignant words regarding the matter.

"With me and Dirtybird specifically, we always try to create our own fanbase and live independent of the system," Claude says in an exclusive interview with Billboard Dance. "So one of our main goals is to get as much information as we can about our fans that we can just talk to them directly, because we don't really want to get involved in the corporate politics of all the raves. So we'll play them, but at the end of the day, we could just do our own party and have 4,000 people. It doesn't matter if we play them or not. That's our goal."

Richards confirmed on social media that his relationship with Live Nation has ended and that he will no longer attend or curate HARD parties, including Holy Ship! Claude VonStroke will also not be returning to next year's iteration of the party cruise. 

In a Variety interview back in April, Richards, aka Destructo, seemed doubtful about extending his contract with Live Nation once the five-year deal ended, saying, "I think that HARD has grown by leaps and bounds and Live Nation has given me a platform to expand monetarily in things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was funding everything. But then again, there are other forces at play here that are running the electronic scene in different directions than me, and they kind of battle with me and that part of it’s not fun -- and it’s unnecessary."

While contracting with corporate entertainment companies may allow for greater event expansion and production budgets, VonStroke laughs, "[It's] not always a lot more money either."

The HARD brand and its events will continue under Live Nation's direction, although it remains to be seen who will head the projects. LA Weeklyciting anonymous sources, reports that Richards will work with Live Nation competitor LiveStyle, a rebranding of Robert Sillerman's former EDM event promotions company SFX Entertainment, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015.