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Go Back‘DAM – IT WAS HOT: Amsterdam Dance Event, a decade at the cutting edge of electronic music and club culture!

Posted: 11/11/05 11:51

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 The 10th anniversary of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) held Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 October was a runaway success. Outlandishly warm for the time of year, the sun shone brightly over the ‘city on the water’ for three inspirational days and nights of ADE related entertainment.

Organised by Conamus and Buma/Stemra, the alluring annual event attracted a total estimated audience of 45,000 this year – highlighting a massive growth since the event’s debut back in 1996.

ADE was started by Conamus (a subsidiary of the Dutch authors’ rights organisation Buma/Stemra) to create a meeting place for the Dutch music industry and initially involved only a few hundred participants with a handful of DJs performing. The event has certainly flourished. This last edition saw 32 nationalities uniting at over 30 venues as 1,450 industry professionals and 400 DJs and artists descended upon the ‘Dam!
Black and yellow are classic evolutionary warning colours. They are also the colours of ADE memorabilia, from the delegates’ directories and daily news releases to the rubberised bags for dance music fetishists that came loaded with interesting industry fodder.

The only danger at ADE, however, was having too many opportunities and not enough hours in the day/night. Lots happened, sometimes unexpectedly, often simultaneously. At the heart of the heat and keeping the intimate conference vibe alive was the fabulous multi-storied Felix Meritis centre – although ADE fever had typically swept throughout the city, from clubs, bars and cafes to galleries, museums and boats!

An array of events included prestigious award shows, an adventurous dance opera (Orfeo) by Laurens van Rooyen and an exciting VJ exhibition at Stedelijk Museum with VJK, Micha Klein, Vision Impossible and Dadara among some world-class talent under the spotlight.

A Dance Is More Than Just Music special furthermore illuminated the many diverse facets of electronic music culture, with moving images at nearby Montevideo/the Netherlands Media Art Institute. You could also catch a dance music movie screening, as usual, this year it was Put the Needle on the Record (trailer here) by Jason Rem. Meanwhile, a traditional photography exhibition by acclaimed celebrity snapper Annie Leibovitz at Foam was also unexpectedly engrossing and something a little bit different. Leibovitz’s portraits of a wide variety of musicians drew onlookers into the frame with expression, colour and composition, telling the individual stories of her focus. Writing with light but bypassing semantics, the amazing stills at the museum captured a range of subjects, from a brass band in New Orleans to P Diddy with his sons.

It was superb to see the ADE paying such close attention to the increasing significance of visuals. The trade dinner held by US digital success story Beatport at the luxury Mansion was popular too. But not quite as popular as their downloads, reaching a one millionth landmark in sales that week. How the download market in electronic dance music has grown. Beatport’s Bradley Roulier even forecasted that the company should sell their two millionth download early in the second quarter of 2006! The ADE Lucky People Cruise was a cool way to travel to Mansion, especially accompanied by the lovely Miss Nine who was onboard, bravely DJing as we bobbed under bridges en route. Now we’re sure the meal was lovely, but as we docked our fun-filled Dutch friends picked us up and they had devised a diversion...

At the attention - grabbing daytime conference, the panels, Q&A discussions and interviews flowed thick and fast and were a fantastic source of information. If you are attending ADE for business purposes, it’s most effective to organise meetings with industry cats in advance via ADE’s online delegates’ database, as when the intense program kicks off and meetings are in full swing it can get tricky to track people down. The conference program was once again lovingly packed, with lots of leading lights and industry experts openly sharing their wisdom in front of capacity crowds.

For example, Live Dance Music Conference (LDMC) panels on the Thursday included contributions from the adventurous ID&T owner Duncan Stutterheim who gave a wonderfully incisive keynote speech and also Sasha Lawrence of successful agency Fillin Da Gap who moderated the How to Promote Your Artist in the Benelux. And with Kraak & Smaak hitting the headlines all over the world right now, she should know! For producers, the Demolition panels were particularly useful – but more on that later.

  Friday delivered more panels, more meetings and yet more inspiration. The crowd-pulling keynote by Paul van Dyk was obviously a winner. Recently crowned by DJmag’s poll as the world’s new number one DJ, a suited van Dyk was interviewed by the industrious music lover Gary Smith (Billboard, Midem). Grounded by his pure relationship with music, a passionate, dream-chasing van Dyk spoke without trace of ego about a variety of subjects. From his discussion of the merits of 80s productions (Massive Attack’s Protection remains one of his favourite songs!) and seeing music as an artform to the death of the vinyl format and the “misuse” of music through ringtones, van Dyk’s interview was deeply fascinating. Friday’s abundance of panels also included an engrossing discussion, the Future of Electronic Music moderated by Vivian Host (XLR8R magazine).

With albums being increasingly self-compiled by the listener, could we loose our emotional attachment to (the physicality of) music in a digital era of the Internet? That was just one inquiry from the floor, quickly dismissed by the panel: MJ Cole pointed out that whilst there is more music flooding the market, the emphasis still lies firmly on the unquantifiable extra ‘magic’ involved in any given production.

Other enlightening panels on the Friday included the Internet As Sonic Shopping Mall talks, where Kurosh Nasseri (Nasseri Music Business Solutions) tried to clear up the differences between licenses (BMI/ASCAP) by asking, when is a preview a performance? He also highlighted the unclear issue of podcasting! The packed out LDMC panel, What Can We Learn From the Rock Community (Part II) with top ADE moderator Willem Venema (The Alternative) was typically educational but of course also highly entertaining. Many could learn from his relaxed but informed delivery.
Advocate of the silent disco, Venema and his festival-centric-toilet-talk kept the audience (including Dave Clarke) laughing from start to finish. 
  Saturday was D3, Dutch DJ Day, and a mighty success with a workshop by Futureshock, another Demolition panel, DJ debates and presentations of various hardware/software. Interviewer Torsten Schmidt (Red Bull Music Academy) hosted some exceptional Q&As sessions with artists including Dave Clarke, Derrick May, Steve Rachmad and Joris Voorn. Revealed during D3, the Dutch authors’ rights organisation Buma/Stemra presented their Major Breakthrough, a digital fingerprinting system for tracking tunes played at dance events and a unique initiative between DJ Monitor and BVD the Dutch organisation for dance event organisers.

Closing the conference at the Felix Meritis with a 30-minute glimpse into the future, Addictive TV’s audiovisual wizardry attracted a massive crowd. Using three Pioneer DVJ-X1 DVD decks, masterfully melded via two mixers, Addictive TV dons Graham Daniels and Tolly completed a jaw-dropping demonstration of where technology can take us in the digital mix.

Performing live from behind four plasma TV display screens and well placed in front of a vast projection screen, the duo supplied a stunning sneak preview of their video remix of Rapture Riders, a Blondie Vs. The Doors mash-up for label giants EMI. There was actually no existing video footage of Jim Morrison singing Riders On the Storm, but these skilled audiovisual surgeons have definitely sculpted something that gives that impression, while blending it with Blondie – awesome! Synchronised music and moving images in the ‘Temple of the Enlightenment’, it was certainly a goose-pimpler of a finale!

From low-tech Micromusic involving 8-bit computer games and Atari programming to extreme harmonica; from the funk of the Bootypop Phantom to the insistent electro of the Bastards of Love; from a Sonar Kollektiv label night to a party by Defected; the night time program rocked in various ways at 37 different venues, with many shows selling out at capacity.


You can expect the unexpected in our 10th ADE year,” said the adventurous, dynamic and experienced PR crew on behalf of event organisers, Conamus and Buma/Stemra

Ibiza-Voice’s tales of the unexpected include popping into the Mansion to catch Marco V dropping James Mowbray and D. Ramirez’s dirty stomper The Day Hip Hop Died. Cool, but what did we expect? We’re not quite sure, but the peculiarly precarious dancefloor was another story… Like being abducted by some insistent Dutch friends who were on a wild boat chase, searching the streets for a cruising party vessel – the elusive Ocean Diva. But it all made sense, strangely: you find what you are looking for when you cease the search, and we did. The awesome 16 Bit Lolitas at More amazed us with a tasty set consisting, as usual, of a high proportion of their own music/edits. We are continually surprised that this local talent don’t get even more attention – they certainly deserve it! We were also generally surprised by the unfaltering quality of the ADE program, by day and night. Anyway, enough about our experience, here’s what a few other folk said when we asked, what, where or who surprised you and what opportunities came out of the blue at ADE this year? 

 Jovan Gligorov, manager/producer, Relaxators, Bulgaria
This was my first time at the ADE. For me, it was an experience to see and meet so many friendly people from all branches of the business and especially the ADE team who were always willing to offer help and support!.

The biggest surprise for me was the Major Breakthrough presentation of the fingerprint system. I’m still living in country where even the main radio and TV stations are only recently paying out for artists’ rights and suddenly I see people worried about the list of tracks used in clubs when I didn’t think it was possible to track that music… until the ADE.

I also found the Demolition (Part IX) panel surprisingly useful as I had a chance to hear some professional critical feedback on my own release and even received support for the future. As a pioneering new label and coming from a country where many wouldn’t dream of selling their music, I found it all very helpful. ADE gave me energy, opportunities and was a stimulus to move on. I’ll definitely be back next year!”

  Reinier Koolmees, Advisor, the Netherlands:
Unfortunately I didn't see any ADE guerrilla marketing in the city as promised, but I really liked the unexpectedly announced boat trip through the canals of Amsterdam! The conference itself met my expectations and was overall quite interesting. A lot of people also seemed a bit more positive about the dance industry than in the last two years and it was good to see that even more people attended ADE this year! The third day especially was a success with Dutch DJ Day.

Event wise, I was unexpectedly surprised to see artists from different scenes performing music that sounded much the same to me, all very electro’ish. Maybe the electroclash-hype helped us in finally making the crossovers with other styles and sub-genres, but for me this suggests that everything is finally coming together as one: electronic music.”

 Peter Berger, ‘independent’, the Netherlands:
In a club someone said to me ‘ADE better be called ATE next year’ implying that the business side (Amsterdam Talk Event) seems to become more important every year. Placed in the context of what Paul van Dyk had said about Twilo, ‘it’s called Spirit now, but the Twilo spirit is totally gone’ and Duncan Stutterheim’s (ID&T) sort of remark, that dance has sacrificed part of its soul to commerce, it might well be true that dance indeed suffers from lack of people actually dancing. Not really a surprise maybe. An opportunity? Let’s see next year.”

 Marc Lankreijer, managing director, AMS Bookings, Holland,
For me this was the eighth time I’d attended ADE and I still enjoy the cultural way of doing business. I met with people from six continents in a day! Talking about the club scene in Africa, royalty issues in South America, booking deejays in Asia, artist development in the North America, setting up events in Europe and shooting a video in Australia! For us it’s the busiest week of the year. You keep up your language skills and enjoy the universal feeling of doing business in the dance music industry

We keep smiling about the meetings, taking place every 30 minutes. Soon your schedule is a such a mess: when one appointment is running late all the day’s meetings get messed up due to wrong time management. When we started attending ADE eight years ago we also wanted to meet as many people as possible. We later realised that we prefer to have fewer high quality meetings than a vast quantity of rushed discussions, and now enjoy much more relaxed ADEs

This 10th anniversary we organised three AMS events. Our agency is focused on some extraordinary artists. In Melkweg we presented DJs, VJs, vocalists and musicians live on stage. It was a spectacular clubbing experience with innovative music and visuals. As our last minute surprise, we booked a musician [Hyper Harp] from Chicago we had met at ADE that same day. We had seen him play in Miami at WMC and loved it. Fortunately he brought his stuff and made our event complete. The response was overwhelming, we look forward to ADE 2006 to meet with all our contacts again.”

 Tom Keil, Holon Group, Germany,
ADE 2005 was good, very good. There were lots of surprises to be found everywhere. The atmosphere was one of optimism and I met a lot of friends and long-term partners. Good music, good clubbing (2ManyDJs were kick-ass), good business. Obviously dance music isn’t dead at all and I especially liked seeing the development of the independent labels that don’t give a shit. See you again next time!”

 Jo Rendell
, Phuture Trax PR, UK,
Kraak & Smaak at Club Magazijn – a full on band set up with decks – awesome! I’ve not seen a funky live act as good as Kraak & Smaak for ages and the club reminded me of a smaller pre-Neighbourhood Subterania in West London. Ugene can really sing and with percussion and DJ mixing from two former Junkie XL band members and keys from the guy formally from Gotcha (a big p-funk Dutch act), live crossover beats were flava of the set. Part hip-hop, part funky house, part jazz, it’s all in the mix. I smile to myself, this is just the beginning and the opportunities are endless!”

  Graham Daniels, Addictive TV, UK,
We were amazed by the amount of people that attended this year’s ADE – we couldn’t get into some events, they were so full! Business wise for us, it was also great to see more companies having a serious and active involvement in the visuals sector of the industry. And for the Pioneer DVJ-X1 showcase we did, closing the ADE, we had a much bigger reaction than we were expecting! A lot of people had never seen anything quite like it, it literally opened the eyes of many of the more music focused people there to the idea of an AV set, with stuff like remixed films etc – so great opportunities came out of that. Fingers crossed it’ll be a busy 2006!”

 In summary, ADE’s general manager, Richard Zijlma, said:
We had so many good responses to the 10th edition that we can’t wait for the next one. I think more than ever people were able to do business and take care of their music during ADE. If what I think will happen happens, ADE 2006 will be even better!” 

Official numbers at ADE 2005:

Professionals 1,450
Nationalities 32
DJs and artists 400
Clubs and locations 37
Audience 45,000
Journalists and media 97

Uniting an international industry in a truly remarkable city, viva ADE, here’s to the next 10 years!


Words by Lisa Loco