As I sit here at the airport about to embark on the relatively uncomfortable 20 + hours of flying to get home, I ponder the lack of sleep I have had this week at ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event), and am always left with the same questions; Was it worth it? Will I get business out of this trip, or is it just an excuse to go abroad and party like I am 23 again?
Well, for those that are stuck with the following questions or are just generally interested to know if there is any point in going as an emerging artist or representative within the dance industry from Australia, let me shed some light on it for you.
The answer is Yes! It is totally worth it.
Firstly ADE is a conference that is designed to connect thousands of electronic music representatives from DJ’s, Record labels, Management, Agencies, Technology Rep’s, Promoters and everything else in between. So basically anyone who is anyone in this industry, is at ADE. The obvious advantage of this is also that you are able to rub shoulders with the elite and basically get a much more personal experience than flooding someone’s inbox with monotone requests and chatter.
So the conference, what’s that all about then?….The conference generally starts on Wednesday and goes until Saturday. During the day the content starts early and most days are jammed packed with back-to-back seminars and talks from industry professionals. If you’re interested in hearing from respected people in the industry discuss anything from earning royalties, the future of streaming, where the industry is going, tips for signing to major labels, what technology and equipment will look like in 12 months time and many more similar topics, than the conference is for you and the pass is worth obtaining.
For first timers I would suggest skipping the official conference pass. The passes are rather expensive, at their peak about €400 ($600 AUD), now for a 4-day conference, this actually doesn’t seem too bad. However for people coming up from Australia, don’t forget you’ve already dropped about 1.5-2K on flights (economy) + you’ve probably booked an Air b-n-b (get in early as these are the best) or a hotel for another $1k-$1.5k for 4-6 nights. So that’s up to 3 grand before you’ve even made it to the city center. So the pass (plus food and plenty of alcohol ha!) on top of this is starting to hurt.
The good thing about the conference is that most people are now savvy with this information and are also choosing to avoid the expense of the conference pass and just catch up with people outside the official venues. As we know Amsterdam is famous for it’s café’s (for various reasons) so there’s no shortage of places where you could link-up with someone for a coffee to try and sell your skills. If you’re a first timer however, you might not have the existing contacts or have too much to offer in scheduled ‘meetings’ though. Unless of course, you have been having some commercial success that would have been appreciated or noticed globally. So as an artist or artist representative/label, you’ll need to have some decent Spotify, Beatport or Traxsource figures for people to want a sit down. Likewise for a promoter or touring agent, you’ll want to have some event numbers and budgets ready to go to impress people quickly.
For people who get the official entry, the doors to the industry are opened. Emails for some of the biggest names and contacts in the industry are suddenly available to connect with and schedule a meeting. You’ll hear these words a lot this week, “I’m off to a meeting”, seems like a fashionable way of saying “I have someone else I’d rather talk to”, but if you’re lucky you can organize a sit down with just about anyone, so the advantages of having a face-to-face chat with someone instead of a digital relationship is (in my opinion) priceless and the only way to build a reputation, and longer lasting working friendship.
So what are all these meetings about? Is there business getting done? Are record labels signing people on the spot? Do they listen to demos?…..Well generally, no. It’s not really the place to get noticed for the first time and have records picked up. But it’s a place to be noticed, appreciated and quite honestly, to be taken seriously. There’s a lot of hot air in the industry and ADE separates the ‘doers’ from the ‘talkers’ very quickly.
If all this business and meeting stuff is starting to make you yawn however, there is a fun side to the week, and that is the parties! Just about every record label worth knowing throws a showcase event highlighting their artists or just generally the biggest DJ’s on the planet. There is a huge amount of events during the week, often I find myself torn, but this is also a good thing, instead of only being able to see one artist at one venue, you can generally spread yourself around and attend various events to get your fill. Huge brands and huge DJ’s are easy, with massive events like Elrow, Sensation, and awakenings taking on huge venues and crowds, and then brands like Defected Records, Soutport Weekender, Toolroom, Subliminal Records, Anjuna, Armada, Mother Recordings, Flow, AMF, A State Of Trance and many others take over some of the best clubs in the world. Then there’s also the many pop up style events that can cater to a smaller bunch of labels and names but still offer some amazing parties. Venues like The W Hotel, Sugarfactory, Club NL, De Baile, Panama, Air, De Overkant, JD Williams Whisky Bar, Amsterdam Tower we’re among the most used this year.
Personally, I did my own event this year with UK label friends, “Soul Dvine” which featured Angelo Ferreri, Dave Mayer, Arcade 82, Scott Diaz, Soulmuch and myself Husky. I find that having a showcase event, no matter how small gives you an opportunity to shine light on smaller pockets of the scene and emerging artists that have plenty to offer. I have often discovered a lot of talent this way myself and have seen these artist go on to very big things.
Keep in mind anyone with a pass can gain entry to most parties unless otherwise specified. Being able to pop down the road and see Roger Sanchez dropping a live set at the Pioneer product launch, or then heading to the W to see Todd Terry and the rest of the Strictly Rhythm crew, and then a dope underground club to catch Joris Voorn dropping rolling techno at 6am, is just so worth it. It’s basically like combining all your club/festival experiences in Australia for the year into one week.
It is a long way to travel and it can be expensive, but ADE is not something that should be put off any longer if you’re in a position to go. The connections made and the inspiration and enjoyment is unparalleled.
In previous years I have met with many people who I could now consider more than just a contact. Opportunities for international artist management, meeting global promoters and contacts for big artists for remixes, A&R contacts who might now actually listen to a demo when it arrives in their inbox because they remember meeting you in Amsterdam. This is why in my opinion, ADE is a MUST DO every year and will remain the most beneficial electronic music conference on the planet.
Hopefully I’ll see you up there and we can have a meeting 😉
author: Lawrence Huskinson
photo by: Tom Doms