IMS: Q & A with founder Ben Turner.

Words by: smac
Posted: 25/5/09 8:03

Back to Business again... Q&A  with Ben Turner from the IMSNext week the second International Music Summit kicks off at Ibiza's Gran Hotel with an intimate gathering of delegates and a wide-ranging selection of forums and panels. The IMS, with the catchphrase - "Back To Business" - was founded last year by Danny Whittle, Ben Turner, Mark Netto, Simeon Friend and Pete Tong and included such highlights as a Q&A with the island's infamous Disco Association and the spokesperson for the local Consell and Tom Middleton creating an IMS anthem. Speakers this year include Richie Hawtin and the President of Ibiza Xico Torres, as well as panels on such themes as: Surviving the Brand, and Managing the Downturn.

We had a brief chat with Ben Turner, whose Graphite Media company also produces Pacha Magazine on the island, for his thoughts about the week ahead...

The IMS is there to help shape the future of the electronic industry, and that is hard to do if you have 7,000 delegates ...

This is the 2nd year for the IMS... tell us a little about the developments for this year. How does this fit in to your overall plan of summit and how you see it progressing?
BEN:"We're feeling the development minute by minute. The interest has doubled across every aspect from media interest to delegate interest, fuelled in part by our decision to risk our houses(!) by taking on Dalt Vila's UNESCO World Heritage Site - a location never used for a contemporary music event before - but used annually by the  very cultured Ibiza Jazz Festival.

The decision to do this is that it's critical to the IMS partners, and I think the business-end of the electronic music scene, to keep the conference seminar element small and manageable. Intimacy is everything at an event like this, so it makes it important to develop a night-time offering that is consumer-facing, puts the event onto the worldwide map, and allows us to slowly grow what happens during the day. The IMS is there to help shape the future of the electronic industry, and that is hard to do if you have 7,000 delegates, most of which are hanging along for the ride. We're very serious, dedicated professionals who care deeply about the world we live. I think our timing in such delicate financial times is helping, as people seem more concerned to learn and develop now as professionals than they were in the heady days of Winter Music Conference."

International Music Summit Team

"Dalt Vila event has been described already as Ibiza's equivalent to Jean Michel Jarre's show in front of the pyramids."

The endorsement by the Town Hall is a very big deal considering their relationships with the island clubs in the last year. How are you working with them and what's your opinion of their policy regarding music on the island?
BEN: "We see a very positive fresh attitude to electronic music from the Consell. I believe they can see the significance now of the music worldwide, that Ibiza is famous for what this scene brings, and not because it's an island with houses that are painted with nice white roofs. Dance music is the single reason that all our partners discovered, fell in love, and dedicated parts of our lives to promoting it to the outer world."

"I think the Consell can see our vision, our belief, and I think now believe we're capable of pulling something off that is culturally rich to the island. As well of course as being an international event. To select Ibiza as the official business centre for a genre of music that began in Chicago and Detroit, was nurtured in Ibiza and magnified in the UK, and is now a global international business, is an honour and something that should be embraced."

"I don't think it flies in the face of some of their decision of late towards clubs, as all they are trying to do is instil slightly more ordered behaviour to holidaymakers. I think their support of us is good for everybody, as the IMS is a very considered, very positive and very professional attempt to focus people to be better at what they do. I think when you provide this kind of platform, then people in politics and power will actually listen to your concerns. We're equally supportive of their new music plans, which will be revealed during the IMS on Thursday afternoon. We are providing each other with platforms to make our statements."Dalt Villa
"Richie Hawtin is our Key Note interview, something which will be a big moment"

What happened to Richie Hawtin in Dalt Vila? Can you tell us a bit more about the concert planned for the closing of the IMS?
BEN: "Dalt Villa event has been described already as Ibiza's equivalent to Jean Michel Jarre's show in front of the pyramids. I have so many glorious evenings hanging out in Dalt Vila, on August 8, at La Ventana, at La Oliva, and at the Ibiza Jazz Festival."

"We're aware many other promoters have tried to take it on, and didn't make it work. Well, let's hope we can make it work. It's not without major challenges, but we hope to deliver something very special for the island. Headline act Basement Jaxx will unveil their new show, such colourful  flamboyance will make complete sense up there. We selected Filthy Dukes to represent an act we all believe in for the future."

"And it's Pete Tong and island favourite Rob da Bank's only DJ sets of the Opening Weekend. We also invited Ibiza Sonica to host the first set with hot new Ibiza name Valentin Huedo, to support local artists. It's a true live show, not a banging rave, something that is respectful of the historic environment."

"Richie Hawtin
is our Key Note interview, something which will be a big moment for him, and also for me doing the questions. He's going to come to the whole conference, listen and absorb, and then we do the one-hour interview. He's not DJ-ing and will just relax and party hard. Which he's damn good at too!"

GrialThis year the IMS is including label showcases in the evenings at do you select the labels to work with and are there more shows planned in the future?
BEN: "It's our first step into providing a night-time offering. We're being cautious, deliberately avoided the big clubs, as we want people up at 10am next day with their notebooks out joining in the discussions. But IMS is supported by so many labels, and if we don't provide this kind of platform, it will happen anyway. So we wanted to showcase the best that is out there.: We were approached by some, we approached others. We have two great Spanish labels in Barraca and Pacha. Two of the biggest crossover indie labels in CR2 and Toolroom, and then Rekids - probably the hippest label out there alongside, say, Hawtin's M-nus or Cocoon. So really good diversity.  And all in Grial, a venue that has matured into a true Ibizan destiny of choice venue. How we're going to get people out of there at 3am and into bed is a job that none of us can really control! Just make sure you - Sophie Mac and: Rui Da Silva are nowhere to be seen please!"

"In addition to this, the Danish music export body are hosting some great names at El Hotel on Wednesday, including Kenneth Bager, and Fagget Fairys. The first music conference I ever attended was Midem, and having dinner with Kenneth back then was one of the highlights of each annual visit. He's a true music legend. It's an honour to have him there."

Why do you think it takes non-residents or at least people who were not born on the island to create these types of events...? Are there ways to involve the local community more, or have you found resistance from them?
BEN: "It's incredible really that it's  not happened before considering the importance of Ibiza as mentioned before. You could argue the same for London, also. So we saw a gap in the market. I think because we think globally in all that we do, we were the right people to deliver it. I've never been a fan of preaching to the converted, and our ambitions are to make the IMS a platform for change, and I think you have to be very global and ambitious in your outlook to ensure that what gets talked about over these days actually then translates into change on an international stage."

Hotel"We're bringing the local industry significantly more this year, working closely with Ibiza Sonica, offering free stands for local music companies, and a heavily discounted ticket for local music companies, as we're only too aware of the effects of the economy on the island of Ibiza. We've also added Valentin to open the party, and all lunchtime music is provided by Ibiza DJs such as Alfredo, Pippi and George from Nightmares On Wax. There has been: little resistance, I think everybody is appreciative that we're trying to create a global event, which is acknowledging that Ibiza plays a central role in all that happened, and all that happens going forward."

The founders of the IMS all have long and established links and careers on the island and in the music scene in general, how easy is it for newcomers and smaller players to get involved?
BEN: "I think the music business is quite an open industry, it welcomes all types, it doesn't look at qualifications particularly when offering jobs. All our partners started at grass roots from a love of music, and we've all created our own positions in the business. We do have a big plan for next year's event to integrate ambitious young islanders into what we're doing - more on that soon!"

You've had a long relationship with the island, how do you see it changing, and is it for the better or for the worse?
BEN: "My love affair with Ibiza continues. I feel the island's landscape does get better, I'm inspired by all the amazing new venues opening right now in such financial times, and seeing the development of Playa d'en Bossa with its five or six (lost count) new beach bars will be amazing. There is one thing this place doesn't have that say Miami does and that's those special beach bars, and now it seems we'll have them. Musically, the island is so much more open. We just need to bring down the prices, please!!"

International Music Summit Full Agenda Here

The IMS runs from May 26th to 29th at the Gran Hotel and various other venues.

For more info and tickets for the Dalt Vila concert on the 29th May go to:


Roberto Capuano
Politics Of Dancing
Ralph Lawson