Last week, I was lucky enough to sit down with the conference’s producer Elana Leaf from Insomniac Events. I’ve edited our conversation down to highlight the need to know details of this ground breaking event.
My questions are in bold and her answers follow.
First some background – broadly speaking, what is EDMbiz?
EDMbiz is the premier conference and expo for the electronic music industry. We’re bringing together people from all facets of the community, from promoters, to producers, to agents, to managers, to DJs, to entrepreneurs working on the periphery; tech products, lifestyle brands etc. We’re expecting about 1000 – 1100 or so this year.
Tell me about the origins. When did EDMbiz get started and why?
This is actually the fifth year of EDMbiz. It started the second year that EDC was in Vegas. Pasquale (Founder of Insomniac Events) thought how interesting it be since all these people are coming to town for EDC, we might as well get them all in one place and have a way to everyone to network, connect, hear about the industry.
This was around the time when there were a lot of moves happening in the industry. SFX and Live Nation were acquiring companies and festivals around the world. EDMbiz started as a way to have everyone come talk the news that’s affecting the industry - whether it's health and safety, or technology, or just the financial repercussions of what was going on at that time.
What are some highlights from the last few years?
In the last three years we've had everything from Nielson presenting some interesting information about statistics like the reach of the EDM consumer in the marketplace, to panels on agencies, whether it's AM Only looking back on their twenty years or the Windish Agency which started as a super small, independent agency that's now grown. Then we've had keynotes from people like Bob Lefsetz. We had Tony Shay (Founder of Zappos) talk about revitalization through music, and just incredible artist participation as well, from Above and Beyond, to Steve Angello, Carl Cox, really across the board.
Do you have any personal favorite EDMbiz moments over the last three years?
Last year we did a panel on drugs and dance music that was so well received that this year we are bringing back a sister panel to expand on how the industry is getting involved in risk prevention.
Also last year we had Chief Judge Gerald Rosen who was responsible for sort of the revitalization of the music scene, which obviously has led to incredible things in Detroit with the Movement Festival happening this weekend. It's really an incredible story.
What are some things that are new for this year?
This year we're expanding our programming to include two stages for the first time. We'll also have more amazing talent than ever before.
Also, the specialty programming is really unique and something that I’m super excited about for this year. For example, we have special yoga led by DJ Gina Turner called the Divine Movement, we have a mentorship program hosted by Little Empire Music and SkyLight and we’ll be kicking off the first ever EDC Hackathon.
Why do people attend? What do they hope to get out of the conference?
I think we have two different categories of attendees. We have the industry people - the agents, the managers, the producers, the promoters, those sort of folks. They’re primarily there to network, see old friends and hear about the latest trends in business and technology. They’re excited to see what we've curated, meet new talent and hear from fellow experts.
Then you have the aspirational attendee - the student, or the person a few years out of school working in the mail room at an agency, or the young club promoter who wants to grow their network. They just really want to come and experience it and get first hand knowledge of what's happening in the industry from the experts. We really try to foster conversation and openness at EDMbiz.
For example, Shelly Finkel who was with SFX, or Pasquale Rotella - they're very open to having conversations and saying hello, as opposed to some other conferences that just don’t foster those sorts of conversations where people feel like they can come up and ask direct question like that.
I remember we did a Team Hardwell panel and after there was this young girl chasing after him yelling “Hardwell, Hardwell, I'm your biggest fan!” She was probably like eleven, twelve - I have absolutely no idea how she even got in, but more power to her. Anyway, she found him and she said listen, “I'm your biggest fan”. Security was trying to stop her, but Hardwell himself and his manager were like “no, no, she's a true fan, let her talk”. They had a very quick, very nice exchange where he took her demo and he literally handed it his manager and I knew they were going to listen to it. It was a sort of sweet moment where it broke the fourth wall between fan and artist. I just love moments like that.
What advice would you give for a first time attendee who wants to make the most of the conference?
I would say just take your time. This year, for the first time, we’ll have two stages. Stage two offers some really unique opportunities to hear more TED-talk style experiences. Obviously there’s some super interesting stuff happening on stage one but be sure to spend some time at stage two because you’re definitely going to have a more intimate and unique experience over there.
And don’t forget to expand your network. This year we have a hosted happy hour – so use it wisely. Have a couple cocktails, but really take the time to go up to people who you've always wanted to speak to. Same goes for lunch - make the most of it by meeting new people.
Oh and definitely explore the Expo. There’ll be a wide variety of amazing people there, showing really cool technology, apparel and performances.
Let’s talk a little more about the Expo - what exactly is it, and what kind of participation do you have lined up?
The Expo really blew up from four booths in its first year to about twenty-five last year. This year we should have over thirty. It's very curated, and I think the thoughtfulness and time that my team puts into the Expo is what makes it really special and unique.
For example this year we have Pioneer talking about the latest DJ equipment. We have a Groovio, which is a virtual reality company. We have Delta, which is one of our partners, talking about their new private jet division that’s really helpful for people who can't afford a traditional private jet yet need to fly around the world. Then we have I-MAG, which is an incredible video company that's going to be providing video walls for stage two and throughout the venue. We really have a lot of great things happening in the Expo you’ll have to see for yourself.
Can you tell us more about the parties? What kind of social events do you guys have lined up for this year?
Well like I said, we have a networking happy hour that's taking place each day.
On top of that, EDMbiz badge holders have access top shows. For example, we have EDC week opening party at the Omnia on Tuesday night and the closing night party is going to be at Marquee, featuring Galantis and Loco Dice.
There you have it folks. Join the industry’s top professionals and icons (and me!) in Vegas on June 14th - 16th. Elana and the good people on Insomniac were nice enough to hook up our readers with a
If you’re in the business of dance music. This is a rare chance to take a seat at table that shapes the dance music industry. Don’t get left behind -
See you in Vegas!