The first day of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) kicked off with a major surprise. So many delegates (1,100) arrived for the daytime sessions that a queue stretching some 50 meters down the street formed.
It was the first time this has happened, and all the more surprising given that Wednesdays have, in the past, been a soft, half-day opener for the event.
Perhaps the main reason that the sold-out 15th edition of ADE attracted so many delegates from the get-go was the presence of a stellar cast of highly influential Detroit DJS who were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the birth of techno. Carl Craig, Stacey Pullen, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Al Ester and Kenny Larkin took part in the D25: Detroit Techno Celebrates 25 Years panel, in the Dylan Hotel, now the official annexe of the event.
Commenting on how he first got into the music business, Craig admitted that his passion for music had caused serious problems with his parents. “When Derrick [May] asked me to go on tour with him under the name Rhythm Is Rhythm, my parents were totally freaked out and refused to allow it, but I decided that I had to go for it and if I hadn’t taken that leap, I wouldn’t be here now,” he said.
Also harking back to his early days, Kenny Larkin told a packed audience that music had not been his first-choice career. “I wanted to get into comedy,” he said. “But music took off first, so I followed that path. I do not however, intend to be doing this forever.”
The above acts were also joined by the new generation of Detroit-based techno artists including Monty Luke and Greg Gow. “I’m from California,” Luke said. “But I moved to Detroit because I feel a deep connection with the city and its music. The first two years were very challenging for a kid from the temperate South, but working with people like Carl [Craig] has made it all worthwhile.”
Alongside the Detroit panel, the Music & Bits panel thread featured a number of cutting edge technologies including a fascinating presentation by virtual realists Mini Vegas, whose clients include Heineken and labels such as Warp and Ninja Tune, plus a presentation by Top Spin co-founder Shamal Ranasinghe on direct-to-fan marketing.
“We are in an era where value is measured very differently to previously, and we have reached a point where artists do not need to shift high volumes of recordings in order to make a living,” he said. “Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, for example, made $150,000 by selling 300 beautifully-packaged box-sets of his last album.”
He added: “While on the one hand it is getting harder to get heard in a crowded marketplace, the reality of today’s music industry is that the long-tail effect has truly kicked in. And what that means is that significantly more mid-range artists, those who are neither superstars nor unknowns, are able to earn enough to consider themselves professionals.”