So, the idea was very much inspired by the Winter Music Conference?
Yeah, but having said that, these days we're very different from the WMC. Of course, it's a much different situation. We have friendlier doormen and much friendlier prices in almost everything.
Yeah, I was the Conference in 2002 and while I had a good time, it was definitely expensive.
But there's no shortage of talent playing at ADE. You guys even make light of it on your website by breaking up the blocks of text to see if people are still reading.
Yes, it's over 475 acts, but that count is already a couple of weeks old. It could be more than 500 now; I haven't had time to count.
I've spoken to a lot of the bigger DJs who attend the WMC and they've been very dismissive of the seminars of the actual conference portion of the event. Has it been challenging for you to make the seminars and conference portion relevant to people who are hitting ADE?
Yes, that's the most important part for us. The conference is at the heart of the event. It's also the reason our night program is so huge. It's very important that the DJs and artists who are making business deals during the day can have a place to perform at night. So, what you are trading during the day, you should be able to see that at night. For us, it's important to have a very close link. And for the participants, we've tried to make things very user friendly. We have an online database that you can check out who's coming, as well. We've also concentrated on simple things, like making sure you can get your conference pass quickly as easily.
What kind of topics are covered in the seminars?
This year, it's a very big program. We have stuff going from Josh Wink, who is doing stuff with us about what he's doing now and how he views the dance industry. We have topics covering the use of electronic music in the games and advertising industry. There's stuff about author rights. There's stuff about dance compilations and what they have to add today. There's a focus on Eastern Europe. Stuff about digital downloads. The connection between U.S.A. and Europe. There's loads of stuff, really. It's a very hot program.
One of the highlights of the day program is a panel that Pete Tong from BBC Radio One is hosting. He'll be talking about the relationship between the artists and DJs in dance music and the way that relates to the business side of things. He's invited Paul Van Dyk, Benny Benassi and Yousef to take part in that panel with him.
How about from your perspective, what do you think has changed with ADE and the electronic music industry over the course of the last 11 years?
Apart from the fact that we've become a lot bigger, the major change in the electronic music industry is that the focus went from the record industry to the live performing industry. At first, the majority of people coming to the ADE were label owners, distributors and record company people. Nowadays, there's more people who run management companies or putting an artist on stage. That's the shift of focus.
It's still about the people who are involved with selling music, but no so much with music that is copyrighted material on a silver disc. It could also be an artist on stage.
A lot of artists I speak to seem less concerned with album sales and more about whether that album will help them secure more live gigs, because that's where their bread and butter is.
Yeah, and then there's still stuff like games, syncing the music to documentaries or films and downloads, where people still can make a lot of money. Making money in this industry isn't something you've got to be ashamed of. I think the focus that we have this year is to focus on all the opportunities there are out there.
So, is there a lot of optimism out there on behalf of participants?
Yeah, I think the main pessimistic period has been behind us for about two or three years now. A lot of people were waiting for the shake out, really; a lot of companies went broke. But now you see a lot of people who have shifted their focus in the industry but are still involved in the business.
There's a lot of artists who are doing their own thing nowadays. They have their own labels and management companies. Paul Van Dyk is an example of that. Basically, he runs his own company and it's involved with a lot of stuff: radio, downloads and also management. I think it's a situation you'll see more and more.
So, you think artists will become more versatile in terms of putting all these interests under one umbrella.
I think that's the direction things are going. Artists are doing more themselves.
I also noticed that you guys undertook a guerilla marketing campaign to promote ADE.
Yeah, we had a couple of students from the art academy in Utrecht and had them go to London and Berlin. They did a couple of events with girls dressed up as nurses, entertaining queues outside of clubs. it was really fun from what I have heard; I still haven't seen the pictures or the film. But they had a great time; they called me this morning and said they were very tired. We also do a lot of flyers at festivals and clubs. Our program magazine has a circulation of 500,000 and it's being brought to Germany and the U.K. also, not just Holland.
I think that's one of the nicest things about ADE. I can't afford to go to the WMC every year, but it probably wouldn't be that big of a deal to hop on a train if I'm in Germany and head over to Amsterdam.
It is quite easy for people to go; that's why Amsterdam is such a great city for this event.
Do you co-ordinate with the Amsterdam government on the ADE. It must be good for tourism ...
Yeah, we work with the local government here a lot and they support our event. This year might be very special, actually, because both the local and national governments are very positive about the ADE. So, we work together with them. I think it's one of those signs that electronic music culture isn't just idiots dancing around taking drugs; there is a real culture.
There's a lot of versatility in the music, there's elements involved with the lifestyle, design. You see that at the dance event, as well. He have Ken Ishii playing at one of our most prestigious art museums here. We have a photo exhibition. There's a tribute to Bob Moog, the synthesizer inventor. There's of different stuff, different from your average dance party, taking place at the ADE.
Do you get the sense that the electronic music scene is sort of coming of age now?
Yeah, that's my feel. Of course, anyone who is looking to challenge that, I'm willing to speak with them (laughs). But I think it's an electronic style that goes back to guys like Bob Moog and Kraftwerk, meaning it's been going on for about 40 years. The club life has been going on since the mid '70s. Of course, there's a lot of very commercial, more trivial stuff going on. But the good thing about the ADE is that we're open to everything. We want both the commercial and underground artists and I think that makes us a unique event, as well.
Do you have pretty much every style of electronic music represented this year?
I would guess so. We don't have a gabber night this year, but we had it last year.
Is gabber still quite big there?
Yeah, it's still quite popular, but it's gone back more to the underground. It's still happening.
Given that there are so many parades and festivals taking place around Europe, do you view those events as a degree of competition or is all very complementary?
Well, I think it's all pretty complementary. I don't think we have much competition in Europe. If you look at the concept, it's to have a very broad program of underground and commercial artists playing in between 30 to 40 clubs - there really isn't anyone doing that. Parades and festivals have a different concept; it's not what we do.
With the ADE so close, what are you doing now?
There's a lot of press accreditation that needs some work. There's a lot of things that have to be done. It's a great scene. At a certain point, it just starts going by itself. It needs a bit of steering here and there.
How about for people that want to go? This late, is it still possible to make reservations at hotels and for seminars?
The hotel situation is OK. Some hotels might be totally filled up - we're expecting 20,000 people from outside Holland, most of whom will take a hotel inside Amsterdam. We're expecting things to heat up, though.
In brief, why should people go to the ADE?
If you want to see artists that are challenging and new, who might be big in the next couple of years, you have to come to the ADE.
Special thanks to Pieter for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to the Voice.
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