WMC Miami 2012, where to begin? This year marked my longest stay down in South Beach for the conference and actually afforded me the time to dive into the business side of the dance music industry and make new friends from around the world while catching up on my favorite artists in the flesh. The weather was amazing, if not a little hotter than you’d ideally want to be dancing in the sun in, and the amount of different parties on offer was really impressive. If you didn’t go to Ultra (we didn’t) and still wanted to check out a wide variety of artists there were plenty of chances to do so.
It was clear that this year, more so than in years past, new companies were beginning to emerge that are uniquely poised to get behind electronic music culture in substantial ways and help share all the aspects of its lifestyle on a scale and manner not traditionally seen in this genre of music. Onebeat.tv launched in strong fashion and hosted a bungalow poolside at The Shore Club that was constantly teaming with industry business veterans along with established and up and coming artists alike. The bungalow, powered by Sennheiser featured a DJ area where the leading German audio company continued their strong moves that began at bpm to assert themselves as a pillar of the edm community. As different DJs played records, staff was seen talking about their wide variety of products and offering tastemakers some of their top-of-the-line equipment. Everyone leaving with gear was seen smiling from ear to ear. Visitors were wowed by the Sennheiser distributed K-Array sound system which continually overpowered the house system. Quietly, the 60 year old company has aquired the industry leadership in all but 1 key element in the production and presentation of electronic music. Allowing it to triple in size over the last 6 years.
A scan of the sponsorships at the larger events spotlighted the alignment moves high-end brands have started to make, as they dip their feet in the waters of an increasingly embraced genre of music stateside and realize that this culture now is very much en vogue with the upwardly mobile. Ultra’s move this year to offer VIP table packages ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 signaled the acknowledgement that there is a literal wealth of people this year to be catered to while their booking choices also signaled an acknowledgement that the underground can no longer be overlooked by including artists like Jamie Jones, Art Department and more on its Sunday Line Up.
As big business and electronic music become closer bedfellows, it’s going to be interesting what benefits and pitfalls this partnership will bring. Higher budgets and better-structured events can often benefit fans experientially but when the desire to capitalize on new revenue streams from “the next big thing” drives up admission costs and makes such experiences prohibitive for the casual fan, it hurts overall participation and slows the adoption of any new music format. Overall though, the vibe that came from this new mix of brands and artists working together in new ways was exciting and refreshing.
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