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Review: International Music Summit, 2015

Pushing the scene forward.

By Ibiza standards, the weather was abysmal, but that didn't stop the annual International Music Summit from running smoothly and successfully in its now more established digs at Hard Rock Hotel, with dance industry players from all over the world in town for three hectic days that always bring Playa d'en Bossa and the island at large alive with a loud, sudden and ever so professional bang.

The first half of day one was business heavy, with the annual IMS Business Report (moral of the story? Lotsa growth), talks from the president of SFX Entertainment and Patrick Moxey of Ultra Records, and panels on finance related issues present and future. There was a huge amount of useful information and discussion presented, but the frequency of branding, financing and content platform chat did get a little desensitising to the layperson.

The A-Z of Billing Politics was definitely one of the livelier panels, discussing the increasing issue of the excessive amount of time promoters now spend negotiating placement of artists on a festival bill, even down to the size of the font. Respect to IMS for putting this issue up for serious discussion, but sadly few conclusions were drawn, perhaps partly due to the absence of an actual DJ's perspective. The consensus on the panel and indeed in the room was that it should be the promoters decision, and a general feeling of exasperation at the amount of time being wasted on these negotiations. And yet when pressed, a representative for the other side of the argument, agent Steve Hogan, maintained that it was his job to protect the interests of his client and it's up to the artist and manager if they want to reject a billing plan, essentially leaving the debate right where it had begun an hour ago.

Carl Craig's Detroit Love panel contained a lot of positivity as the name suggests, mostly discussing why this techno birthplace draws such fierce loyalty, what keeps him interested in the DJing craft but also an acknowledgement that there's room for a big change in the scene: “there is a wide space for one genius to come in and turn everything around. We need a Kanye in techno.” A Back2Live panel then followed with spirited discussion of the importance of preserving live instruments and incorporating them into our electronic world, during which Uner revealed himself to be much more than just a tech-house DJ.

The following day, Judy Weinstein and David Morales of Def Mix shared Frankie Knuckles anecdotes, industry advice and expressed both passion and derision for a scene they helped create, but the highlight of day two was easily the B Traits moderated a panel on drug regulation, State of Mind, which discussed the negative effects of the government's War on Drugs and called for more regulation, testing and availability of information. The panelists' passion and sense of urgency was conveyed to the audience, and there was a real sense of motivation to make a change. Much of the rest of the day was taken up with market focuses on other parts of the world, like South Africa and Nigeria. It was fascinating to find out more about the scene there, however the brief time slot meant discussion was only surface level. I look forward to some more in depth international analysis in years to come. Later, 80s production genius Trevor Horn shared tails of collaborations (Seal's live singing gave Trevor a musical hard on don't you know) then the day closed out with the Ibiza cultural classic, A Short Film About Chilling.

The final day of talks kicked off with the Great Ibiza Debate panel, in association with yours truly, Ibiza Spotlight. This was one of the best panels of the conference, with Ernesto Senatore making a rare public appearance in representation of Music On and coming out with some brilliant one-liners: “Marco [Carola] is very professional because he's on 24 hours a day. When he's not thinking about women, he's thinking about music.” Darren Hughes shared quite personally about the experience of moving We Love to Sankeys, Christian Anadon of the Mambo Brothers spoke on the state of San Antonio clubbing and Simon Dunmore discussed leaving Pacha, the closure of Booom, and why Defected chose Amnesia as its new home. The ins and outs of the Ibiza clubbing scene are our bread and butter, so personally it was fascinating to hear candid discussion from the promoters' perspective as opposed to club owners or managers, as in previous years.

An interview with the creator of Soundcloud Alexander Ljung closed the conference and, whilst he did a little too much diplomatic dodging of the question, he managed to communicate his genuine goal to provide a good service for the creator, and that the issues many people have with Soundcloud and payment are huge issues which affect the entire music industry, and he and the team are doing their very best to solve it. Overall Ljung genuinely wanted to address the public's grievances, and for that reason the few sarcastic twitter comments which popped up on the screen behind his head were in very poor taste.

IMS as a conference at large is a rapidly growing force but in Ibiza the panel's weren't quite as strong this year in comparison to the giants that have crossed the stage in recent years. IMS is growing rapidly internationally and between IMS asia-pacific, IMS engage in LA and the flagship IMS here in Ibiza, the talent might have been spread a little too thinly. Still - an interesting three days has unfolded, the Dalt Vila parties were a huge success once more, and the introduction of the Back2Live concert was an important step in the integration of two musical cultures. As long as IMS keeps pushing the industry forward like this, it has a place on the map.


WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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