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Go BackADE REVIEW PART I – The Conference: a retrospective of the Amsterdam Dance Event daytime program, including quotes of note from the class of 2004…

Posted: 4/11/04 13:19

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A true inspiration and an organised feat of Dutch engineering, the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) was fantastic. Held in the beautifully historic and highly suitable Felix Meritis, a formidable ninth edition of the ADE took place between the 21st-23rd of October and is thought to be their strongest version yet.

We cannot detail the entire complexities of the numerous sessions, keynote speeches, talk shows, panels, workshops, and so forth involved within the extensive ADE daytime program, but we aim to please. So here’s a quick Dutch impression we’ve compiled, complete with specific examples on proceedings, and essentially (we thought) some retrospective observations from various ADE attendees.

So first things first, and upon registration at the Felix Meritis delegates received the following: a wristband (allowing free entry into all the participating nightclubs until they reach capacity), an ADE identity badge, and a 192-page book (including a handy a-z contact list of all the delegates, maps, timetables, and supplements of the vast night program). Colourful Kappa bags full of goodies also came with the territory (as ‘the brand for a digital generation’) together with the quality ‘ADE Daily’, a double-sided A4 sheet containing the very latest news, quotes, facts, and figures. Suffice it to say, the amount of information received was more than adequate!

Our general impression on the conference was that the ADE brought together a lively dance music community in a well organised and acutely apt environment with business facilities to hand such as: email stations, listening booths, a defined meeting point, a networking lounge, a Live Dance Music Conference (LDMC) networking and business room, two business lounges, and three panel rooms. There were also plenty of leading lights and key figures to catch, spreading the word and discussing matters such as: the need to take digital dance seriously (still), the power of a laptop as a creative tool, MP3 promotion, distribution channels, VJing, dance music in movies, the role of a manager, and how to manage more generally these days. Notably several panels picked over the download situation, as eloquent representatives from the field urged any remaining labels and artists who have not embraced the future to get digital yesterday. From digging in the crates to a playlist on a memory stick, despite apparent problems with the quality of MP3s, it seems that we must finally accept dance music’s evolution. There was also free legal advice available on issues such as: collecting royalties, registering trademarks, taxes, contracts, and liabilities.

This year the LDMC panels admirably presented by The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, ‘Doing Business In…’ looked at Poland as an example of an emerging market, and also Italy, during exclusive round table meetings. On an international theme, presented ‘The Tourism Quotient on Events’, another LDMC panel. Here UK brand master James Barton (Creamfields) talked about “crowded dance music markets” in some territories, whilst highlighting recent adventures in Prague, Brazil and Chile, plus sharing plans for Moscow and Berlin. Remaining on the subject of taking music to new places, panel moderator Willem Venema (The in turn directed the talks to how governments can export homegrown talent and about the importance of cultural exchanges via embassies. Venema also questioned the meaning of the word ‘festival’ in today’s market, suggesting as a celebration it should be just that… but are festivals cash cows in disguise or a social service? They may be neither. The differences and similarities between markets, people, places, and profits all came into question with many more issues placed on the table before this session closed.  

The panel intriguingly titled ‘The Art of A&R’ was also interesting with moderator Martin Unger (Jondaljazz, De), who spoke decisively with two decades of experience on: getting exposure, channelling creativity to make progress in business, and the importance of networking. Isaac Coutiel (Planetworks, Gr) also raised a good point, we thought, talking about different professional approaches: from the artistic model, to the business perspective. Coutiel also conversed concerning: the buzz surrounding tracks at conferences, the timing of releases, the expectations of perceived hits, the reality of their market impact, rights to territories, the world, and so on… Jonny Williams (Slip ‘n’ Slide, UK) meanwhile declared that if a track is essentially good enough, with perseverance, it should make it through the A&R jungle to become a success. 

: Dutch DJ Day’ (a new event) took place alongside the ADE on the Saturday and seemed well attended, not surprising since the day’s line-up was generally fantastic. The unshakable Gary Smith (Billboard/Midem News, Fr) held a Q&A interview with ‘Hey DJ’ movie man Agostino Carollo (It) and Josell Ramos (US) the ‘Maestro’ documentary maker.

The whole audio visual mix was later expanded upon with a panel called ‘Too Many VJs’, moderated by Gerald van der Kaap (00-Kaap, Nl) with: Fabian Grobe (Bauhouse, De), Eboman (Jeroen Hofs, Nl), Graham Daniels (Addictive TV, UK), Micha Klein (Nl) and VJ Milosh (Fr). This panel however was so packed full of content that there wasn’t sufficient time to get through it. A problem shared by many other sessions. As such panellists are required to be selfless in providing their wisdom and answers to the important questions of our time, while refraining from irrelevant self-promotion (a toughie!)… And where was the new Pioneer DVJ-X1 unit on this panel? But that’s probably more than a workshop in itself for next year!

Like many other panels, ‘The Demolition’ sessions proved fundamental to new talent, as attendees could acquire direct feedback from industry experts by depositing their demos into a box. CDs were then pulled out randomly, but some being unmarked were dismissed, highlighting the basic need for contact details when submitting work anywhere! Another problem experienced by DJ Roog (Hardsoul, Nl) on one of these panels was being asked for his opinion on trance tracks. Roog found it virtually impossible to offer advice, and eventually requested that only ‘house’ be selected out for the demo session. Which in turn raises questions about the definition of ‘house’... eek; anyway…
Other ADE highlights included: ‘The Interpositions of an Audiovisual Study’ by Prof. Karl Bartos (Berlin University, De), and a workshop with Stonebridge (Hed Kandi, S) called ‘How Did He Do That?’ Then there was the quality Q&A with Juan Atkins (Metroplex Records, US) and DJ Bone (Subject Detroit Records, US) conducted by the laidback Lars Brandle (Billboard, UK). King of Quirk meanwhile at the Felix was ‘Paap’ (Marc Paping, Nl), who gets the thumbs up for bringing a glimpse of his back to the future world in various underground guises…

To conclude, a FinalScratch digital DJ workshop by the talented Funk D’Void (Soma, Sc, Sp) was also superb; but before closing we wish to salute all those who we haven’t mentioned!

Amassing and co-ordinating so many industry heads of various nationalities, from such varied backgrounds, is an amazing achievement. Despite different languages and cultures, the ADE managed to remove barriers (geographical and otherwise) offering a sound platform for global talent. We can say with sincerity that the ADE is priceless to all music professionals at any level, as it’s informal and yet extremely efficient. And that’s all from us, for now; but read on to discover what other ADE attendees had to say when we asked: ‘how was it for you?

“It was great being able to exchange ideas on the panels and speak with people from all branches of the business. I personally enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere for meetings, and I am looking forward to seeing the development of some deals we discussed there… And of course, our club night at Panama* was an amazing success!” Dolores Canavan, managing director, Yoshitoshi, US.

“This year’s ADE was awesome. With the hottest line up for years, it happened to be the best edition!” DJ Edwin Diergaarde, 3FM, The Netherlands.

“I would say that the ADE as a whole was a good experience. It was great to see different aesthetic views come together. The panel discussion was fabulous. It lasted longer than I expected, and I was happy that it did. I love it when an audience is really interested in a piece of history that actually defined dance culture as we know it today, plus it was good to be next to Gary Smith and Agostino!” Josell Ramos, film producer, US.

“I had a great time, everyone was really friendly and helpful, especially the Conamus crew. There were just too many people and panels to see, and not enough time… I was doing 10 meetings a day and still couldn't fit it all in! I really enjoyed checking out all the clubs too. My favourite was Escape, the amount of thought put into its decor etc was amazing.”  Nikki Wright, IMD management/PR UK.

“This year the ADE again gained in stature for me through the presence of a growing number of relevant representatives from the industry. It would be great to see even more of them on the panels...” Olga Heijns, management, The Netherlands.

“A veteran of the big music conferences like Miami, Popkomm etc, this was my first ADE and I was pleasantly surprised. ADE is different to other music industry gatherings in the sense that the venue is quite compact, which in turn allows you to stand in one spot and see most of the people you need to see passing by. There are many missed meetings at these big conferences due to shenanigans the night before, so being at a compact venue is a perfect way to catch up with the people you’ve missed earlier. It was a very constructive event. For us it helped us cement existing relationships with A&Rs, labels and producers alike, as well as allowing us to meet many new industry contacts!” Rob Roar/Max Linen, A&R/producer, Phonetic Recordings, UK.

“This was my first time at the ADE, and I now consider it very useful in making contacts and learning about new and interesting business opportunities. Also the numerous parties involved a wide range of incredible talents, and we danced to some truly great music... The vibe in the clubs was absolutely amazing and I look forward to returning next year!” Jessica Bueno, Jebuke Management, Spain.

“It was great to be at the ADE this year and to see so many industry faces, slap backs, and swap fancy business cards. I am looking forward to next year already!” Roman Trystram, Ornadel Management, UK.

"ADE is still a conference with an informal character and a purpose of building relations internationally. It merges people who share a devotion to dance music. For me, it delivered an extra musical dimension, building contacts, playing, and planning future Insomnia events!” Martijn van der Ven/DJ Maron, director, The Netherlands.

“This was my first ADE, and I found it very interesting indeed. Our VJ panel was a bit too short though, as one hour is not enough time for presenting six artists and allowing for the discussions, but it was really well designed and run. The organisers found six professional VJs, which is still not so easy within our relatively young scene. Those of us on the panel had very different artistic backgrounds, so it was a real wide spectrum; but we all met up and that always gives new artistic angles and opportunities.”  Milosz Luczynski, VJ artist, France.

“The ADE was great for me, and especially for the Exposure agency! We now have a lot of new contacts to work with in many different countries, and also new places to do our Exposure events…” René Mulder, manager, The Netherlands.

“The ADE was fantastic, particularly as they’re now opening it out to VJs and the whole visual side of the industry. I played a VJ set alongside Funk D’Void’s live performance at Panama*, and it was the first time Extrema had booked a VJ from abroad. There seems to be a real buzz this year about visuals and DVD albums, especially with the release of the Pioneer DVD turntables. It was good to be part of an ADE panel about the VJ scene, and hopefully there’ll be even more next year.” Graham Daniels, VJ, producer, UK.

“I thought the conference was very encouraging this year, with lots of positive business done!” Jan Maarten Knopper, managing director, The Netherlands.

“This year, the big debate was whether it would make sense to attend ADE, given that Popkomm was only three weeks earlier. For me (and all others I spoke to there), the answer was a resounding ‘yes!’ ADE continues to be the most focused music industry event for those of us who concern themselves with dance and electronic music, and the best opportunity to do business in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. It is only appropriate for the ADE wristbands, which are required for admission, to simply state ‘focus’. That is what ADE is all about. This year, the focus was music downloads, and this of course was entirely appropriate.” Kurosh Nasseri, Nasseri Music Business Solutions, US.

“With iTunes doing four million tracks each week (putting $100,000 weekly into some major label’s accounts) I am surprised that the majority of European dance music orientated labels have not grasped the reality of the digital world by now, and are still putting out tracks by DJ #####… Tracks that have nothing on them but a groove and a tired hook will get played by DJs and very few other people, especially on the radio. They would be better positioned to flourish if they followed the Belgium label Mostiko into the more artist friendly urbanised areas of the business. Two great albums by Kaye Styles and Leki show that Belgium knows how to make great chocolate and some great soul music. Heads up to Tom and Joe at… Generally, the ADE is a great annual conference run by some real music people/fans. It’s a chance to meet and greet all day, and then to go wild in one of Europe’s top cities for nightlife.” Eddie Gordon, DjInTheMix, UK.

“The ADE was a great resource for knowledge this year. The interview with Juan Atkins and myself and the Funk D’Void demo attest to that.” DJ Bone, US. 

"The ADE was great this year, I met many new people and made good deals in the process. Some of the panels were very interesting, although I was sorry to see that more music professionals didn’t attend these panels. It was definitely worth skipping Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik where I would have gone if ADE didn't feature me on a panel." Berry Plasman, Rub.ber Visions, The Netherlands.

“It was good to see that quite a few distributors are taking this event seriously, and not just the labels and producers. The best night for me was hearing two Dutch guys called Wipnose and Pim (honestly!) from Amsterdam serving out a great mixture of funk and 70s disco in the SupperClub.” Lance Warren, export manager, Germany.

ADE: wicked as usual!” Carlos Calico, general manager, Spain.

“This was my first time attending the ADE and I didn't take it seriously until I arrived, figuring there would be no way to get work done in one of the party capitals of the world! Boy was I surprised. In fact I had so many great meetings that I didn’t fit in enough coffee shop time... The panels were cool. I usually avoid panels like the plague, but since Youri from suggested we catch Juan Atkins we checked him out and I was really glad that we did. The conversations were down to earth, and informative. The best part of the conference for me was meeting all the DJs and journalists like Russ from IDJ, it’s cool to meet the people who write about your music face to face! There were many great parties, and the music was awesome. Some of my favourite moments were: the Defected party, the Trax party with Paul Johnson, and the SupperClub boat cruise where I sang my new single ‘Please Don’t Go’, with DJ Alexia on the wheels of steel!” Screamin’ Rachael Cain, president Trax Records, US.  

ADE was the first time had been properly introduced to the dance music industry, and we had a ball! We featured on a couple of discussion panels and signed up something like 50 new labels from across the board. Our party with UDC at the legendary Melkweg was also a storming success, and we’re still recovering!" Ed Real, DJ/producer/director UK.

ADE is an excellent opportunity to meet all the people that we work with during the year. This edition we found several big hits so it was definitely useful, and hopefully profitable, to attend. We closed a label deal and confirmed the signing of three tracks. So we are already awaiting next year’s edition!” Bérczes Ádám, director CLS Records, Hungary. 

“Well Friday night at the Panama* club was a huge success with King Britt, Josh Wink, 10 Sui, D’julz and myself doing the honours until around 5.30am. We were to be joined by our very own Master H, but he got the day of the gig wrong so he never made it, doh! Then we all went to an afterhours at club More until God knows what time, allowing myself just enough sleep to give a live demonstration of the MP3 FinalScratch software at the conference on Saturday afternoon. Little did I know that I would be talking for almost the entire time to a room full of strangers with a weird looking microphone contraption strapped to my head, and standing next to a huge projector beaming my every move on the wall next to me. However all went well without a hitch and I proceeded to meet DJ Bone, Juan Atkins and Gene Farris in a coffee shop, and I stayed with them until I had to jump on a plane to my next adventure…” Lars Sandberg, DJ/producer Funk D’Void, Scotland/Spain.

“The ADE was very successful for me this year. It was really easy to find and meet up with everybody that I needed to because the actual venue is so well laid out. The organisation generally was very smooth. Doing the Demolition (Part VIII) panel was good fun, and again, it was well organised. The attendance was high and people were keen. I heard a couple of really good demos, yet I was a bit disappointed not to hear any really innovative tracks and only one actual full song, but the general standard of demos was good. I went to several parties at night as well, and my outstanding moment was Nic Fanciulli’s set at the Yoshitoshi party in Panama*. All in all, it was a very productive and enjoyable weekend and I’ll need some time now to go through my pile of business cards...” Martijn ten Velden, DJ/producer, The Netherlands/UK. 

“The ADE was a little quieter than normal… But business appeared to be pretty focused and brisk. Our event was jumping – Holland is definitely an emerging house market!” Simon Dunmore, Defected Records, UK. 

“The ADE was another intimate, but wonderful, conference to catch up and hang out with some friends from the music industry. I really enjoy it, and never miss it.” John Acquaviva, DJ/producer, Beatport, US. / 

“The ADE is one of the nicest fairs around. You meet all the right people from the dance music industry. The atmosphere of the fair is very relaxed, and at night you can party until you drop, what more do we want?” Steve Spaas, Director/A&R, Okina Music Group, Belgium. 

“The ADE was a good statement for dance music: many meetings, people, and lots of good music. The underground spirit from the early 90s returns as the major companies are not so into it anymore, while the real music lovin’ people are still there!” Tom Keil, Holon Group, Germany. 

Respect to the exceptionally well-organised ADE hosts (Conamus and Buma/Stemra – a tight ship indeed). We would also like to thank the industrious industry heads for providing these comments and making the ADE a professional place to be – we look forward to the 10th edition in 2005! 

ADE 2004, a summary:
Total number of visitors          32,000
Nationalities present                    27
Professional participants           1,300
D3: Dutch DJ Day participants      250
Artists/DJ’s performing                300
Live radio broadcasts                    4 (3FM, Radio 538, Fresh FM, ID&T)
Journalists & media                      77

ADE REVIEW PART II – The Festival’ to follow


Words by Lisa Loco