One of the dance music industry’s biggest conferences is resuming its original live format. IMS Ibiza today (December 1) announced that after two years of digital events, it will return to its namesake island on April 27-29, 2022.
The conference will be co-hosted by dance world titan (and IMS cofounder) Pete Tong, along with BBC Radio 1 Dance host, DJ and journalist Jaguar. The conference will take place at the Destino Pacha Ibiza Resort, and for the first time will not include panel discussions — with the format shifting to one-on-one conversations, in order to, IMS Ibiza cofounder Ben Turner says, “focus even harder on our curation reflecting our broad culture and society, but in more meaningful discussions, keynotes and presentations.”
IMS Ibiza 2022 will also feature more consumer-oriented programming, with clubs shows and DJ events filling out the schedule as IMS come to life on the famed dance music mecca. IMS Ibiza 2022 will again include the presentation of its annual IMS Business Report, which offers a deep statistical dive on myriad aspects of the dance scene, and a financial valuation of the industry. Speakers are yet to be announced.
Here, Turner discusses the changes happening at IMS Ibiza 2022.
Obviously IMS has happened digitally over the past two years, but the break must have also given you time to reimagine the live event. What are the major changes happening in 2022?
We are very sensitive to an industry that is a little “talked out.” So many artists have been declining online talks as a policy during the latter part of lockdown, and with the Clubhouse spike feeling at one point like everybody was hosting a panel 24-7 about music monetization or NFTs, we decided to move away from multi-participatory “panels” to allow more time for deeper thinkers to have direct one-to-one conversations. It somehow feels more appropriate right now.
IMS Ibiza Summit is a beautiful moment at the top of the summer season — optimism is always in the air, anticipation for the summer months and the making and shaping of crossover records and new success stories around parties and resident artists. IMS Ibiza Summit always pretty much opens the season on the island: We’ve moved earlier and earlier over the past 14 years, and often the island’s clubs move with us.
As incredible as IMS Ibiza Summit is, it has never had the same energy that you get around Austin for SXSW or Barcelona for Sonar — and this is because we only ever focused on the content of the summit, and less about the programming of DJs and live music. In 2022 and beyond, we are bringing many new artists and brands to the island for the first time, using our platform to bring in next generation talent to discover the island. It is not designed to compete with anybody on the island — it is there to enhance and support and work with all the iconic venues that are the lifeblood of its enduring legacy. The idea is just to make the date more of a moment for everybody on Ibiza to benefit, from hotels to clubs to restaurants.
What’s the thinking behind getting rid of panels this year?
I actually find the concept of a “panel” really underwhelming — I think most do, just nobody says it. Most conferences have become very lazy about how they approach them, whereas since our partnership with shesaid.so began, we have worked tirelessly to get the right make-up of speakers to cover all sections of society.
Whilst this has been extremely rewarding on the one hand, bringing in experts who probably speak on average five minutes in total feels tokenistic, and no conversation ever feels fulfilled or any topic resolved. We will focus even harder on our curation reflecting our broad culture and society but in more meaningful discussions, keynotes, presentations. We actually ran [our conference] IMS Engage in L.A. this way for five years — two speakers, no moderators. When it sparked, it was untouchable as an experience and a conversation. We want to move back to this kind of approach, hearing more from less people. We will be more inventive and more considered about how we present everybody.
We’re also feeling that people will be coming to IMS Ibiza Summit to meet people again — to meet new connections for the first time in many cases, or meet their international partners for the first time in three years. So the idea of sitting in a conference room for three days, all day, feels a little like the old world to me.
IMS 2022 is being framed as “a reflection of IMS’ core values.” What are those values and how will IMS 2022 put them at the fore in new ways?
We are extremely mindful of ensuring that we practice what we preach, so a lot of time and energy and money will be spent on trying to live up to the standards we expect of others. From the environment, to equality, to transparency, to ensuring the safety of our delegates — these are all discussions we are deep in.
One example to share which highlights our progression is that for the past two IMS Ibiza Summit events, we ran a private wellness retreat in a separate hotel called The Art Of Areté to support the well-being and personal development of our industry as we collided with a mental health issue in our own industry. In 2022, thanks to the support of our long-term partner Pioneer DJ, this facility and platform will be free for all delegates to attend throughout the summit. It shows our own progression of developing a program of education that has helped so many and now bringing it center stage as one of the main features of the entire summit. We are very proud of this.
Tell me more about the environmental considerations.
As an event based on an island, there is no doubt that inviting our delegates and speakers to attend has a considerable environmental impact, we are working very closely with the team at A Greener Festival to put all of our event planning under scrutiny and will be taking the necessary steps to ensure we minimize energy consumption and our carbon emissions.
This will begin with a C02 analysis of our 2019 event to establish a benchmark, then we will aim to undertake an annual follow up study to ensure we are reducing emissions year on year. As a starting step, we will be adding 5% to the price of all delegate badges which will be used to fund Carbon Removal from the environment, each 5% donation will be match funded by IMS Ibiza Summit. It’s also important to note that everyone that attends IMS Ibiza Summit will be expected to pay this donation, even speakers who usually receive a free badge to thank them for their time.
We will also be offering a heavily discounted Eco Badge to any delegates that travel to the summit from outside of Ibiza using the train and ferry. Green travel is not the cheapest or easiest option, and this is our way of thanking delegates for making that extra effort to be sustainable. These are just two initiatives within the sustainability space, there are many more that we are planning and hope to implement at the summit, including a renewed focus on creating a plastic free event in collaboration with our partners Bye Bye Plastic. We have been very proactive in the past with Education & Legacy, Industry Advocacy, Diversity & Inclusion but much more work to be done.
For the last few years, the IMS Business Report has reflected a bit of a decline in dance music’s mainstream global popularity as hip-hop has becoming the prevailing global sound. Does dance music need this global mainstream popularity to be viable?
The last decline was inevitable, as it reflected the lockdown. But I think overall — with the ups and downs of the boom around EDM — that the art of DJing and performance is now so ingrained into culture and society that we’ve come so much further than worrying about mainstream statistics. So much of our culture is unrecognized or undetectable to statistics like these, even though we work tirelessly to uncover everything we can.
My point is that our genre’s influence has now become so huge in art, fashion, cinema, sport – its in the runway shows of Prada; its in the movies of Alejandro G Inarritu; its in the galleries at 180 The Strand or the Tate; its leading the visualization and monetization of the metaverse. We are so much deeper into shaping youth culture than ever before, and somehow I think the pandemic has deepened that acceptance. All the doors are open now for cultural crossover opportunities.