25 October, 2019
We break down the key trends in dance music, DJing, and club culture discussed during the forums at Amsterdam Dance Event 2019.
From October 17-21, our team joined thousands of electronic music lovers for Amsterdam Dance Event 2019 (ADE). The 5-day festival took over the Dutch capital, with cafés, bars, and clubs hosting performances by the biggest names on the global scene, including Peggy Gou, Jon Hopkins, Charlotte de Witte, and more.
In between the parties and tech demonstrations, experts from a range of disciplines explored the future of the dance music industry and its leading trends. Here’s a recap from some of the stand-out talks of the festival.
Big names in the streaming and DJ hardware industries discussed streaming’s impact on the total electronic music market and suggests it could lead to fairer distribution of artist royalties.
Already this year, Beatport CSO Terry Weerasinghe has noticed an increase in downloads but also streaming subscriptions for people new to the dance music scene. This suggests, he said, that barriers between sharing and earning revenue from music are being broken down. SoundCloud’s Jack Bridges agreed, suggesting that streaming will democratize music by enabling the fair allocation of royalties to the right artists and more independent labels.
But Beatport’s Weerasinghe doesn’t think streaming will take over the DJ world completely. When the CDJ was released 25 years ago, people played a combination of CDs and vinyl, and he thinks similar hybrid listening will emerge – half streamed/half downloaded DJ sets. Meanwhile, Jay Cunningham of InMusic Europe argued that streaming doesn’t appear to be the best option for all DJs, but it will be big with hobby and wedding DJs who take song requests. However, strong mobile data and WiFi connections will be essential for this trend to take off.
Pioneer DJ’s Mark Grotefeld, revealed that our focus won’t deviate when streaming hits the booth. Although we’ve recently released streaming-friendly software and hardware, such as the affordable DDJ-200 smart DJ controller, he explained that, “Creators and performers of the music need to be at the center of everything we do.”
At this forum, we were introduced to the emerging, but still niche, phenomenon known as Algorave – a combination of live-coded music and visuals.
Experts in the medium, Coral Manton and Shelly Knotts, explained how it’s done, with some artists coding performances in advance and others improvising sets on the fly. Playing live, they typically use coding languages and environments like SuperCollider and TidalCycles and say that projecting these in real-time creates an immediate connection with the crowd, adding an element of ‘truth’ to the show.
Shelly explained how watching jazz musicians, with their vast range and improvisation capabilities, became a key motivator for learning live coding. She said, “With live code, the sky’s the limit”. Algorave parties even hit this year’s Glastonbury Festival, so watch this space.
Within this panel, experts from the club industry discussed what dance music venues will look like in 2022 and broke down trends coming out of specific regions.
Rainbow Gao, a leading figure in China’s electronic music scene who setup numerous festivals including one atop the Great Wall, shared her visionary concepts behind new nightclub 3NTRY in Shanghai. She explained it’s more of an artistic hub, committed to working with local musicians while boasting sustainable architecture, zero-waste initiatives, eco-toilets, and a ban of single-use plastic in the building.
Similarly, Katarzyna Czechowska who works for a Polish record label, talked of her involvement with eco-friendly projects at Instytut Festival in Warsaw. Most notable is the creation of the ‘first-ever Techno Forest’ where all participants had to plant a tree seedling before hitting the techno dancefloor.
But if you’re based in the USA, you’ll likely notice Musion tech in a club near you soon, suggests Peter Martin of CREATEC. The company specializes in virtualizing people, and has worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen, Gorillaz, Janelle Monae, and MIA. In fact, they were responsible for the famous Tupac hologram at Coachella 2012. A new low-cost version of the tech called Portal is set to be released, which Martin expects to explode.
It’s no secret that digital devices are changing the way we interact with the world around us. We’ve been thinking about it here at Pioneer DJ, and we’re not the only ones.
Our very own Dan Tait spoke about this matter, arguing that smartphones have led to the communal feeling of the dance floor getting lost. Too many people have become engaged with their screens rather than the people around them. Danny Howard of BBC Radio 1 has noticed the issue in clubs too – attendees are filming sets rather than watching them. He knows this is unavoidable with the popularity of social media but suggested it’s only a problem if people do it for the entire show.
And while social media has become a method for artists to get their music heard, musician Adam Ficek argues that it’s led to too much self-promotion. It’s worrisome, he says, to see people forgetting that they’re more than just an Instagram profile.
For more on this topic, check out our recent documentary INSTA DJ.
Credit to Dick Rennings for the photo of Amsterdam.