Five key themes from the Electronic Music Conference in Sydney
The Electronic Music Conference certainly proved a big draw when it staged in Sydney over two full days.
About 400 delegates made their way to the UTS Business School in Ultimo to hear 90+ speakers discuss everything and anything to do with electronic music, business and culture.
6000 punters went out to see 80+ artists involved in EMCPLAY across the week.
(1) EDM IS BECOMING MORE EXCITING AND FEARLESS
Sasha summed up: “It’s always exciting to see what’s coming next.
“The thing about electronic music that’s so exciting is it’s always churning out a new format, a new way to look at it, a new direction.”
He also applauded the trend of music software to make EDM incredibly more accessible than ever before.
Giles Peterson was excited by the diversity and fearlessness in the records that emerged this year and looked forward to what was coming n the next few years.
While many delegates talked about the importance of learning from EDM’s rich past to shape the future, Australian manager John Watson (Paul Mac, The Presets) emphasised in a keynote that the longevity of an artist’s career rests on delivering the unexpected rather than the expected.
Sydney songwriter and producer Hayden James in his keynote talked about the hard graft that went into becoming a global name.
“Build a story that you want to be a part of,” he advised.
(2) EXILES ON MAINSTREAM
The hardcore purists might hate it, but EDM continues to widen its mainstream appeal which could open up doors for more sponsorship and TV opportunities.
Nick Dribble: “The biggest and most exciting thing about electronic music and where it’s headed is that it’s going up to cross over into more mainstream in audience appeal.
“Some people might not think it’s good but it’s great to me because more people are exposed to it, and finding out about it.”
Social media was seen as both a blessing in that it reaches out to millions and creates a direct conversation with consumers.
Others preferred to see it as a curse.
Sasha and DJ Greg Wilson, both at the forefront when EDM began its journey, complained that EDM lost much of its mystique because of being in the digital glare.
They both yearned for the time when the DJ played from a dark corner and not on a podium, and the pressure that social media puts on artists to being “on!” 24/7.
Inevitably, social media is a total necessity for artists wanting to break into the increasingly-lucrative Asian markets.
The glare of social media also saw the music media intensify its role in offering critical appraisal to counter the froth and fakery of social media, of telling stories in compelling ways, and ensuring that they maintain editorial independence and not swayed by the pressures and demands of the EDM biz.
(3) THE WORLD IS WATCHING AUSTRALIA
Conference producer Slingo noted, “Already there are some incredible international opportunities for some of the artists that participated in EMC and EMCPLAY.
“We’re incredibly excited to see these artists signing to agencies overseas and look forward to seeing some of them on tours and festivals in exciting new markets in 2019.”
With more Australian artists becoming part of the global EDM conversation, it’s inevitable that the biz will crane its next to see if there’s anything more interesting.
Simon Caldwell: “People definitely see Australia as a breeding ground for a lot of interesting electronic music. for sure. “
Elise Reitze: “In Australian music at the moment is in the phase of experimentalism, especially with the sound.
“We’re going to see a big shift in people making just unique sounds.”
C.C. Disco: “Because we’re so isolated, we’ve created such an insular scene which means basically everyone is so good.”
Aluren Mikkor: “ I really think all eyes are on Australia and Australian artists.
“Everyone all around the world is watching here. It’s creating a knock-on effect elsewhere in the world and it’s super exciting!”
(4) IS BALI REALLY THE NEW IBIZA? AND ASIA GROWS AS A TOURING MARKET
Bali, which is our closest holiday destination, has been mooted as the next Ibiza for some years now.
The bohemian spirit created by the original backpackers is becoming more narcissistic, hedonistic and glamorous as the backpackers move on and are replaced by the jet set from Asia and Europe.
The Bali panel included travel agents and promoters speaking about the opportunities and challenges– but they stressed that event makers had to show respect.
That is, no frothing about arriving just to make money and to ensure the events be held in harmony with the local culture and environment.
The panels discussing touring Asia were positive too, pointing to a huge obsessed audience, especially in China.
Local festivals like Storm draw 180,000 rave-heads, and international brands as Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival are moving in as a result.
Using social media for integration was emphasised, as was collaborations with Asian artists to help the crossover.
(5) AVICII’S DEATH A GLOBA; WAKR UP CALL
Sasha says that out of “that terrible situation” of Avicii’s suicide came a wake-up call to the EDM industry: someone at the top of his game was still lonely and could have been helped.
“For a long time, it just wasn’t a conversation that people had in the music industry, around the world
“The fact that people are now talking about mental health within our industry is fantastic, it’s something that’s long overdue.”