Wrapping up ADE 2013: The 5 biggest headlines
The ‘SFX buys ID&T’ bombshell
Of all the panels at ADE, the one bursting at the seams more than any other was Thursday’s Q&A between SFX head of acquisitions Shelly Finkel and ID&T CEO/founder Duncan Stutterheim, where the global EDM adventures of SFX were discussed in all of their ‘synergistic’ glory. That’s a whole lot of money, mergers and acquisitions.
“We want to offer partnerships, for us it doesn’t stop at offering sponsorships,” said Finkel. “When SFX acquires your company you can be part of the ticketing company, Beatport, our design company and our infinity program. SFX is the one place to get everything. We offer the full package, whether it comes to touring or breaking a new artist”.
The biggest eye-opener, though, was Stutterheim’s announcement that SFX had acquired full ownership of ID&T, his powerhouse events company that he co-founded all the way back in the early ‘90s. “We finalised the deal an hour ago,” Stutterheim told the packed room. “Instead of the previous 75-percent, ID&T is now going to be 100-percent owned by SFX. Now it’s very clear, I work for SFX. I will be working at head office in Europe, and we’re going to create still the same shows. But from this point, ID&T and SFX will be together.”
Finkel also took the chance to take a dig at what’s possibly the biggest, and slowest moving, target in American dance music: Las Vegas. While Hakkasan promoter James Algate had defended the role that Sin City plays on Wednesday, Finkel thinks otherwise.
“A little disappointing, Las Vegas,” said Finkel. “They are paying artists a lot of money because they receive their income in ways we don’t. Their business model is different because they also gain income out of their hotels and casinos, money that is being invested in the EDM scene by paying the DJs twice or three times as much compared to SFX.”
However, he said he doesn’t see any major market destabilisation in its wake. “Artists come to me and say: ‘I will play in Vegas to make money, I will play at your events for the fans’.”
Tiga and Troxler railing against “the numbers”
Turbo Records front-man Tiga rivals wildcards like Diplo when it comes his hilarious and outspoken presence on Twitter. On Thursday at ADE he was invited to moderate his own panel, where his motley crew gathered to try and take the wind out of all of the seriousness and deal-making that was going down at ADE, while also tackling the important topics head on.
“We’re going to be talking about some very important issues,” Tiga said in his intro. “Not so much functional issues, but more philosophical. Cultural. Sexual. Things like that.”
This indicated from the start that things were never going to get too stuffy, and the rest of the panel’s members made doubly sure of it: Visionquest wildman Seth Troxler and Canadian techno veteran Matthew Dear AKA Audion. While remaining panel member Dubfire never showed, presumably after partying too hard at his SCI+TEC label showcase the night previously, in his absence he was lovingly and flatteringly referred to as “that old guy”.
“Is dance music the most commercial scene in the world, period?” Tiga posed early on. Or phrased differently: “Is this the first time in music history where we’re seeing 10,000 kids in North America screaming, T-shirts off, for a 46-year-old?”
The biggest topic of the hour-long discussion, though, was of how utterly obsessed DJ culture has become with “the numbers” – and we’re not just talking DJ fees. “No music scene is dominated by numbers as much as the electronic music scene is. BPMs, DJ rankings, charts, air miles…numbers everywhere. But where’s the freedom, where’s the fun?”
Tiga put forward that DJ culture was overly eager to plug into the binary code of the digital era. “Electronic music was the first to get onboard with digital files, Facebook followers… Even the absurdity of the DJs willingly allowing themselves to be classified and ranked, and the acceptance of these numbers as concepts. It’s partly depressing, and partly obsessive… As an artist, how are you meant to switch from counting your air miles and checking your sales, to at the same time being creative and free? Because they’re very different ways of thinking.”
Troxler, for one, was having none of it. “When numbers come up, I tend to space out a little bit. Why is it so uptight? It’s ‘biz-world’. That’s why people are at this conference, to think about the magic formula, to get the perfect number, the hidden triangle code that you need to become a star,” he said, tongue firmly in cheek.