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EDMbiz: More than shop talk, the coolest panels and why you should go

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Festivalgoers listen to electronic dance music at the Circuit Grounds stage during the final night of the Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 10, 2012.
Photo: Steve Marcus

EDMbiz is back! The second annual electronic dance music conference is returning to the Cosmopolitan June 18-20, part of Insomniac’s EDC Week series of events leading up to Electric Daisy Carnival this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With Las Vegas positioning itself as the hub of the EDM industry, EDMbiz is more than inside baseball for executives and professionals, providing fans and insiders alike with a forum to examine and further the EDM as both a business and community—think of it kind of like a fledgling SXSW for dance music.

This year’s event has expanded from daytime conferences and seminars with some of the industry’s biggest movers and shakers to include nighttime music events showcasing the most exciting upcoming acts at EDC.

“I think because we’re on the leading edge of youth culture with this conference and its affiliation to EDC that we have a tremendous opportunity,” says EDMbiz host and co-curator Jason Bentley. “I hope people just come and get involved. I think getting in the game is the most important thing. If we can facilitate a place for people to network, to learn, to take something away, then we’ve been successful.”

Can’t make up your mind about which talks to check out? We asked Bentley to weigh in on some of the highlights and why they’re worth your while:

    • On the Beat: EDM Press

      When: Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

      The low-down: “On the Beat” features a panel of journalists from across independent and mainstream media examining how EDM culture is covered by the media and what new storylines are emerging from the genre today.

      Who’ll be there: Moderator - Matthew Adell - CEO, Beatport; Neil Ackland - CEO/Founder, In The Mix; Katie Bain - Senior Music Writer, LA Weekly; Senthil Chidambaram - CEO, Dancing Astronaut; Simon Lamb - COO and General Counsel, Insomniac; Kerri Mason - Contributor, Billboard; Sarah Polonsky - Senior Editor, Vibe

      Why you should go: “Music writers, journalists are the conscience of popular culture, and in a sense they can help shape the agenda over the next couple of days. It’s a good jumping off point. And I don’t think it’s too, too technical for people,” Bentley says. “It can also be a very controversial space. The press hasn’t always been kind to the scene over the years. There’s been a lot of reactionary viewpoints, so as someone who’s been involved in the rave scene for 20 years, it’s just a cycle. Sometimes there’s just this witch hunt about, you know, ‘Oh my god, kids on drugs!’ It’s been a process. So I like the fact that we have embraced a number of key writers to say ‘Here’s your platform, let’s talk about some of the challenges that the scene faces, the music and the industry.’”

    • The Greatest Night of Your Life Panel

      When: Thursday, 5 p.m.-6 p.m.

      The low-down: EDC and EDM would be nothing without the passionate grassroots fanbase behind it. This panel examines the role of the fan in the EDM world, and previews the forthcoming EDC documentary with directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz.

      Who’ll be there: Moderator - Tommie Sunshine - Label Owner, Brooklyn Fire; Writer, Huffington Post; Jila Alaghamandan - Entertainment Director, Insomniac; Bunny - Creative Director, Insomniac; Dan Cutforth - Founding Partner, Magical Elves; EDM Super Fans

      Why you should go: “This is really the first time that I’ve ever seen a conference putting the fan onstage, the uber-fan. Everybody talks, talks, talks throughout the conference about everything that they do and they’re all important links in the chain, but ultimately none of it works without this sort of active fanbase that’s willing to pay money for tickets and bring their passion to an event. This also addresses the movement toward the experience, especially with EDC, and who and what contributes to that experience. Is it the promoter? Is it the DJ? And it really is a collective. Also on that panel are Bunny and Jila, who are principles on the creative side of Insomniac. They’re sort of the ‘experience creators,’ in the sense of bringing these ideas to life, really sort of out there ideas and kind of turning it into a rave version of a Cirque du Soleil or something. I don’t think they’ve ever had a chance to talk about what they do either, so that will be cool to hear.”

    • EDM’S Place at the Grammys

      When: Thursday, 10:45-11:30 a.m.

      The low-down: This panel takes a broach look at the Recording Academy, touching on what exactly the organization does, how artists can submit music for awards consideration and how to become a member. Panelists will also discuss the MusiCares Foundation, the DJ AM Memorial Fund and a new documentary on his life.

      Who’ll be there: Moderator - Jason Bentley - Music Director, KCRW Radio; Steve Aoki - Artist/DJ/Producer; Bill Freimuth - VP of Awards, Grammys; Scott Goldman - Vice President, MusiCares; Kevin Kerslake - Director, DJ AM Documentary; Daniel Mendoza - Regional Manager: Chapter Operations, Grammys

      Why you should go: “The Grammys are the gold standard in music, and making inroads to that is important in the evolution of the music, and it needs to be represented in the right way. I think a lot of people in the dance music scene, in the rave scene, in EDM culture don’t really feel like they have a place at the Grammys and don’t think they could ever win a Grammy. The panel is also addressing directly the Al Walser debacle last year. It was sort of a questionable nomination and a bit of a hiccup as far as the advancement of EDM at the Grammys. It revealed that there isn’t a very informed membership at the Grammys as far as this music, so how do we fix that and what do we do? The second part of that panel will be about MusicCares -- what else does this organization, the Recording Academy, do besides the TV show. We’re also acknowledging figures like DJ AM, who is legitimately a revered figure in this music scene, and looking at his passing as something that we can examine, learn from and make positive out of.”

    • Let’s Hug it Out: Agents in EDM

      When: Thursday, 3:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m.

      The low-down: “Let’s Hug it Out” gathers top talent agents in the industry to discuss their role in shaping artist’s careers as well as the live music space, including identifying talent and what makes for good bookings.

      Who’ll be there: Moderator - Bill Silva - President/CEO, Bill Silva Presents; Steve Goodgold - Agent, The Windish Agency; Steve Gordon - Owner, Circle; Jasja Heijboer - Owner, Ace Agency; Sam Kirby - Partner and Music Agent, WME; Matt Rodriguez - Agent, AM Only; Hunter Williams - Agent, CAA

      Why you should go: “This is really trying to understand how do agents pick talent, how do they prioritize their people, especially if they have a lot of clients. They can make such a huge difference, especially nowadays since the emphasis has shifted away from record sales to live touring. The booking agent has a much more influential role [now], in terms of making money and making a career for an artist. So really trying to put them under the microscope and understand what they do, how they do it. I think for a lot of people, ‘How do I get a booking agent? Where do I start?’ is a big question.”

    For more details, events and registration information, visit the EDMbiz website.

    Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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