The 27th edition of the Amsterdam Dance Event has been over for just a week, just enough time to recover and it is now time for insights. Finally the first ‘real’ edition since the end of the pandemic attracted a staggering 450,000 people to the Dutch capital over five days. This record-breaking numbers celebrated over 1,000 events and initiatives held in over 200 locations around the city, hosting over 2,500 artists and speakers.
It took a good two years of waiting before being able to personally share their views and knowledge with so many friends and colleagues. The above-mentioned numbers, on the other hand, are clear evidence of the industry’s desire to start up again, fresh and hungrier than before. Panels, workshop activities, exclusive shows and also – and above all – parties and label showcases among the most famous on the planet made the Dutch capital the centre of global music business.
YouBEAT clearly took an active part during the most ‘dance’ week of the year. We delved into key discussions on the digital future of music, which between NFT and Web3 turns out to have an almost infinite margin for growth. We confronted record labels such as Charlotte de Witte’s KNTXT, but also the spasmodic search for new trends and sounds. Moreover we participated in direct comparisons between streaming platforms and their services, both from the point of view of the record label and the independent artist.
Because the soul of Amsterdam Dance Event are also and above the artists.
A non-stop week that made us breathe sensations and directions of an industry that is updated with impressive ease, and that we want share with you.
Here you can find all our videos from events and interviews!
___ Speakers: Andrew Mitchley (David Gresham Records), Sarah-Jane Nicholson (Paradise Worldwide Africa/Africa Rising Music Conference) and Josi Chave (DJ and producer).
The Afro House phenomenon is – for many label managers closely related to this sphere of music – largely due to the musical redundancy that is clogging up our playlists. We have traced the origin of the Afro House phenomenon – which, when put like that, has the same semantic equivalence as EDM – up to the modern-day explosion. Over the course of time – especially post-apartheid – young South Africans have started cultural movements based on music.
The main ones are kwaito, coming from the House family (Chicago House, in particular), but also and especially amapiano. The latter has also found particular success overseas because it approaches a social movement intimately linked to the artistic life of young South African producers. At the time, the lack of dedicated infrastructure and even the internet forced musicians to make ‘internet cafes’ their ‘production studios’. The equipment available to these musicians was minimal: pirated softwares, distribution on Facebook or local sites, but still a lot of musical authenticity.
With more and more eyes on them, new investors provided technological and engineering skills that allowed the movement to explode. There are, however, not a few problems discographers are still facing in making African musical creativity an export product. Before the global pandemic, nobody cared about publishing, for instance, which did not operate efficiently and did not collect revenues to distribute to the rightful claimants. The main source of income was the live shows. Producers themselves did not care about earning money through streaming – also because Spotify has only existed in Africa for four years, ed. In the wake of the pandemic, however, it became necessary to question how to get income also from streaming and to take more targeted actions.
Today, Afro House is the most studied genre, but also the most ‘forbidden’ to emulate. It represents an entire social and cultural movement that can only be understood on the streets and by living the local customs. The Afro House we know today has absorbed many conventional European genres such as Techno and Tech House.
HOW TO GROW ON YOUTUBE
___ Speakers: Henri Lessing (AGE Media), Jennifer Feaster (AGE Media), JP Sing (YouTube EMEA), Rutger Tuit (Google Netherlands), Thijs Verhulst (Warner Music Benelux).
YouTube is undoubtedly the top player of the music streaming platforms, as well as the most easily accessible and numerous. Between July 2021 and June 2022, it paid more than USD 6 billion to the music industry, a full USD 2 billion more than the year before. Impressive numbers that – in this panel – anticipated the new strategies and implementations that the Google giant has in store.
The Shorts feature, launched in 2021, featured prominently in the discussion. These were described as ‘the appetiser’ of the endless promotion that YouTube makes available to the content creator. Suffice it to say that Shorts alone generate 30 billion views per day, with 1.5 billion registered users per month regularly ‘consuming’ Shorts. In essence, they are the principle of promotion that the creator must know how to exploit in order to initiate communication with the next potential subscriber to the channel. The formula devised by the creators of Shorts, which is being concretely reflected, can be summarised as: Search -> Discovery -> Promotion. The real difference between other platforms and YouTube, therefore, is the immense marketing potential it offers to promote your music, specifically.
WAYS TO MONETIZE YOUR MUSIC INDEPENDENTLY
___ Speakers: Abe Batshon (Founder & CEO, Beatstars), Aly Gillani (U Label & Artist Representative, Bandcamp), Jack Bridges (Sr. Manager Independent Labels, Soundcloud)
Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Beatstars at the same table discussing the possibilities their platforms offer the artist to monetize: a paradise for every music artist. The discussion was based on the operations that the three platforms run, including from the artist’s point of view. A single question was enough to start the comparison: as an artist, what are the main sources of income you can offer me?
Bandcamp is one of the reference marketplaces for independent artists, where they can upload and sell their productions directly. Bandcamp is based on the assumption that there will always be people buying music and related merchandise. Suffice it to say that 50 per cent of their income comes from merchandise such as vinyls, cassettes and t-shirts. Bandcamp offers a real possibility for the artist to interact with their fanbase and get to know their tastes, thus maintaining a stable relationship with their art. It is also interesting to know that 70 % of the music on Bandcamp was released in the last month, unlike other platforms where 70 % comprises the entire catalogue.
Beatstars is the largest music licensing marketplace designed specifically for producers. The platform helps content creators and producers connect with recording artists and songwriters in the hope of collaborating on new tracks. Literally, a pioneering platform for licensing your own beats. But how does it work? The artist retains full publishing ownership of their beats, but allowing thousands of recording artists to use a new master of their production. This allows the producer to earn sustainable income from their work and create new connections for possible future projects with new artists.
Soundcloud is the platform par excellence for independent artists. In some ways very similar to Bandcamp, but definitely driven by music streaming. Here again, the communication possibilities are incisive and allow for contacts between fanbase and artist. Most importantly, Soundcloud has literally revolutionised the royalty distribution system by focusing payments on the activity of the individual user. Under this model, royalties are paid based on the behavior of individual subscribers, with a percentage of each subscriber’s subscription fee distributed only to artists and labels that have listened individually that month.
RESHAPING THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
___ Speakers: Daan Archer (CEO & Co-founder, Copyright Delta), Jake Murphy (Founder & Creative Director, Clokkemaker & Ape In Records), Michel D. Traore (Co-founder & CEO, Anotherblock), Sebastian Orellano (Co-founder, POAP). Moderator: Lorne Padman
In this panel, moderator and guests focused on two key questions: are NFTs (aka Non Fungible Tokens) a good fit for the music industry or not? And what are the best options to continue along this new path?
After the due introductions, the guests focused on how metadata is completely revolutionizing the game, also based on their own experiences and lives: from royalties to earnings, artificial intelligence (characterizing the aforementioned Web3 or Web 3.0) is increasingly honoring the work of artists and experts in the field – as Jack Murphy said, what is happening is a reclassification of a sales stream, which in the long run would change payment rates, generating more revenue.
In fact, all four guests agreed that the big advantage of Web3 is that, in the fairly near future, the artist will be able to own and manage his data independently and in a much more simplified way, through virtual reality and Metaverse; therefore it will be easier to get credit, to be recognized, even though VR and Meta are already present in the everyday life of the music industry and beyond.
During Spinnin’ Records press day at Q-Factory we met and interviewed Chico Rose, chatting about his path, his friendships with Afrojack and Andrea Damante and more!
THE FUTURE OF MUSIC: HOW CONSUMPTION PATTERNS AND WEB3 WILL CHANGE CREATION, CONSUMPTION AND COMMUNIT
___ Speaker: Oana Ruxandra (Chief Digital Officer, Warner Music); Moderator: Claire Wright
The focus here was also on Web3, the Metaverse and how values and earning methodologies are changing with the times. The panel opened with a great historical parenthesis on the beginning of Spotify, with the subsequent emergence of competition, playlisting and free song downloads, streaming and the evolution of the music industry. Web3 was the one that allowed artists to find an audience for their music to be heard.
Streaming, however, is not only in the music world; in fact, the video-ludic universe was also mentioned.They share common traits, according to Ruxandra: community interaction (end of example, Discord for when playing games or lately, it is also used by the artist to interact with their fans) and also the way of monetizing through the different platforms. The Bored Ape case was called into question: an NFT used as a ‘membership card’ that anyone in possession of, had the right to join the Discord community and be part of it; this shows how NFTs are now the basis of every new generation community, so much so that day by day, given its success, the ‘Bored Ape‘ increases in value and access remains increasingly limited.
Another common element between music and gaming is the ‘in app’ purchase and monetization in general. Nowadays, what artists earn for their work is much less than what will happen with Web3, which will allow for more income from the streaming phenomenon alone. Just as Spotify charges subscription fees to allow access to more songs or to remove advertising breaks, in gaming too there is the possibility of buying in-apps (as in the case of Fortnite and customised skins for one’s in-game avatar).
The music model is changing radically, according to Warner’s Chief Digital. Thanks to Web3, an artist who is not playlisting will still have a way to monetize his music, to better interact with his community. So the general consumer model is that the community wants to interact with each other and with the artist himself. To do this, the Metaverse will play a big role. For those who don’t know what it is, it is a kind of hyper-reality, designed to unite the physical/real world and the virtual world, designed for one’s own device (mobile phone, PC, tablet). Thanks to this, communities will get closer and closer to the world of digital and next generation technologies, starting with NFT.
Not just business though, God forbid. Even the city traffic sound was altered by some speaker. Whether it was an organized party, a label showcase or even in common markets! Amsterdam was literally overwhelmed with DJ sets in every corner.
Probably one of the most anticipated events, at least by those who didn’t get to see it at Tomorrowland. Eric Prydz‘s HOLO cannot be categorized as a live set, it is something that transcends the concept of music and live set. It transcends any type of definition, it is the Digital that reaches horizons that cannot be explained by an Instagram reel.
Higher Ground Showcase was the first of the events we wanted to attend. An unsurpassed Kilimanjaro opened the dance and made the Afro House skeptics open their ears. Carlita was no different, with an articulated sound that we have already had the pleasure of listening to this year in Rome, at Cercle. And then his majesty Diplo, who probably received more demos than applause.
The next day the list was practically endless. Starting with the great celebration by 1001tracklist, due to the release of their 101 Top Producers 2022. Non stop rush, then, to the most awaited label showcase of the entire event: bitbird x Monstercat. The gift of ubiquity would not have been more useful than on this occasion.
The magic of DGTL Festival was the experience that every human being must try at least once in their life, definitely one of the best memories.. Ben Bohmer‘s set is not just an experience, it’s a purging of sins. Underground location managed like a Versailles palace, efficient organization and unparalleled musical experience including Spotify show with 600 drones above Amsterdam sky.
Another label showcase, this time in the presence of DJ n°1 according to Dj Mag: STMPD RCRDS Showcase by Martin Garrix. The complete roster, divided into two branches, blew up the Air Amsterdam bedlam. An intense 12 hours at STMPD, which the day after hosted us at its Studios outside the city for an unparalleled sound experience.
Closing with a bang: Awekenings x Ziggo Dome. The perfect union between one of the most iconic event brands on the planet, held in a historic location and symbol of the city, the Ziggo Dome. We were in the presence of His Majesty Carl Cox, who clearly suffers the Benjamin Button’s desease, and Reiner Zonneveld. The evening continued with the Afterlife show, by “our” Tale of Us.
Unique and unrepeatable experience, which we urgently wanted to try again on the skin. There are no other words to describe the vitality that Amsterdam Dance Event represents for electronic music. The tree of life of our passion, which the more time progresses, the more it evolves to understand and welcome the strengths (but also the weaknesses) of an extremely complex business.
What to say? See you next October at #ADE2023
ADE presents – What’s Your Vibe? / Official ADE22 Film
Following the success of last year’s ‘Dance is a Rave-olution’, on 15 December the official ADE YouTube page premiered its short film, entitled ‘ADE presents: What’s Your Vibe? / Official ADE22 Film’; the 4½-minute video is narrated by Connor Schumaker and focuses on vibes, which shape sound and the world, unite them and create them. The images and video clips were taken from this year’s ADE edition and depict what the city of Amsterdam becomes every October: a combination of vibes, dance and music, with its locations, panels and night events.
You can watch the full video here.