If you haven’t heard by now, you really must be under a rock somewhere. The organizers for Ultra Music Festival have expanded to two weekends. How significant is this? Very.
The rift between Ultra and the eclipsed Winter Music Conference (WMC) was well documented in 2011. Being in the midst of a economic downturn did not help anybody. Both sets of organizers, the city of Miami and most of south Florida, and the artists, especially who are interested in the more purist WMC were hurt by the separation of the two events by two weeks. Some of it was the confusion of what is WMC versus Ultra; more on this in a bit. Both saw downturns in the participants, which typically the weeks worth of parties is Miami Beach ‘Black Friday’, whereby they make considerable of their yearly monies during WMC/Ultra.
The next year saw an amend of sorts. WMC expanded to 10 days to cover two weekends. Ultra continued with its 3 day extravaganza on the trailing weekend as it has traditionally done for better than a decade. And the people came, and they came, and they came…
The Huffington Post reported a study by the Washington Economics Group Inc found that Ultra drew in 165,000 party goers and infuses $79 million into South Florida. Our question is, what part of this is due to WMC? Was it part of the equation at all?
N’Dinga, Rachel (for Deep Sugar Party, Baltimore), and Stylo at Future Classics Party 5, WMC 2012
Herein is the issue facing much of EDM as a whole, and House Music in particular. It could be said that people do not know the difference between the particular beauty of WMC events versus the more popular than ever Ultra. In fact, several friends of mGrooves revealed that they believed the events to be one in the same. For much of the history of WMC, which started first, then Ultra, the core ‘heads’ and followers of the nascent sounds of EDM, it was the more intimate settings of WMC parties that drew people to South Beach from all over the world. These are at hotels, pool side, rooftop, in addition to clubs, all which typically range in size from a few hundred to a few thousand in capacity. The WMC also is the place of the IDMAs, International Dance Music Awards, now entering the 28th year. These are events were you could likely be up-close and personal with many of the players in EDM. You could share a table with them or a drink, instead of being locked away in an overly hyped VIP section. You dance and talk with them, exchange ideas, and possibly, if you are a burgeoning artist yourself, get personal contact information to get help along the way after leaving WMC.
Ultra, in contrast, has continued its focus on the biggest and loudest personalities, whether they be the best as in previous Ultra festivals or not. They went for and has been very successful at, creating a festival within the festival of music already occurring, to bring hyper-focus to the artists they wish to showcase. And it isn’t that the collection of performers for Ultra cannot be heard elsewhere in a similar setting across the globe, at an semi-outdoor amphitheater where thousands can be packed in. Casual listeners and fans who used to hear about WMC only hear about Ultra these days. It has become a near total eclipse.
There are many very successful artists outside of the Tiesto, Van Buren, Skrillex, Guetta, that are worth listening to, deserve ear time. It could also be said that going to WMC was the probability of discovery of the next EDM star on the rise, the adventure in trying something new and exciting like a promising 1st date or your first visit to a foreign country. However, the shadow of Ultra has spread far. We at mGrooves have heard from many artists and labels that after years of support to WMC are for the first time NOT planning on making the trip. This is even true for many that are based here in the USA and WMC marks one of the only times to connect with their African, Asian, European, and South American fans. We believe these absences is a huge loss to the experience of the week even if one does support Ultra.
mGrooves is making plans to be a part of WMC 2013, bringing to Miami an edition of it’s popular Baltimore party Lust4Life. We are very excited to have this opportunity to work with some of our favorite performers in House Music in a setting where all of us can truly get to know them, and dance! Because dancing is what this is all about, yes? We at mGrooves also wish to continue the spirit of family that is House Music in the events that we participate in.
We would like to hear from you.
Kochi and Sean came in and tore up the decks. The entire room was jumping!