Slow Summer: Where has all the music gone?
It’s been a few months since my last post, and for good reason. Slow season is ending and soon we will be hit with an onslaught of tourists from New York, Europe, and the Middle East. What does this mean?
Calendars will soon jam up where locals and tourists alike will be faced with a complicated selection of overlapping events. But this isn’t necessarily true of music. It seems the only clubs in Miami that offer grade A house music nowadays are Story, LIV, and Space. Story and LIV are owned by Dave Grutman, and Space is an Opium group venue as of 2013. That’s all the house music presented by two companies in the entire city. And with venues diminishing over the past 5 years – Grand Central, Will Call, Mecca, Mansion, Amnesia, Arkadia, Bardot, Heart, Trade, and soon to be Electric Pickle – what does this mean for the future landscape of Miami’s house music scene?
This same question was asked five years ago by our own Louis Puig in a notorious letter released during WMC. He said, “Techno, Tech, Deep House and other underground EDM genres will prevail,” while “VIP Confetti Music” will see its end. (Full letter posted at end of this article.) Puig didn’t mention or perhaps didn’t know the effect that mainstream house music would have on Miami. Once the epic hub of electric fairies, where dancers experienced painful adrenaline rushes walking up to Club Space, where any Surfcomber party was the place to be, the city became lost. The genre lost its purpose. We lost the culture. We lost the fans. And we lost the venues.
And we will continue to lose patrons to Vegas and Europe because they can house more than 3 landmark DJs on any given weekend, day or night. The 2018 IDMA winners were also in Vegas and Europe for best clubs nationally and globally (Omnia in Vegas and Ushuaia in Ibiza). We will see a recess of diversity in the music that joins us in Miami and that will make us uncomfortable. Perhaps that will make us uncool. And I’m ok with that. Because Ultra Music Festival was once uncool. And some of the best music was spawned from those years.
So Miami is in a transformative state (if the dozens of cranes across the city are of any indication). Dave Grutman and Roman Jones are getting old. Louis Puig bowed out. The club owners of our future are to be determined. Millennials are becoming entrepreneurs and perhaps some who are passionate about the music, like me, will seek to create something in the city that represented so much progress in the way of dance.
As for me, I’m fleeing to Amsterdam next month to get a healthy dose of music that we don’t typically see here. Artists like Paul Kalkbrenner, Kolsch, Joseph Capriati, and a diverse selection of drum and bass artists, which is a scene Miami has kept dormant since the early 2000s. The evolution never stops, but the location of Renaissances does.
Wishing all my Miamians a safe and happy fall. Have fun at Nina Kraviz at Space the first weekend of October! She won best female DJ this year at the IDMAs. I plan to see her at ADE 🙂
Letter from Louis Puig
Greetings Fellow Electronic Dance Music Fans and Welcome to MMC 2013.
Every year at this time, I write my tell it like it is letter regarding MMC and EDM. Basically it is my reflection of what to expect from MMC and the current and future state of EDM. I also try to add some inspiration, humor and constructive criticism. If there is any content here that you find personal or offensive just think of it as that ringing left in your ears after being at Space all night. Eventually you will either ignore it, get used to it or it will go away.
This year instead of writing just a letter, I broke things down into sections as a producer would tracks on an LP. That way you can pick and choose the ones you favor and ignore the rest. That being said let me push play and start the first track on this LP.
WMC, MMC, MMW, UMW. After 10 years of pushing and trying, I finally got my wish. As you all know, I have spearheaded the effort to unify Winter Music Conference / Miami Music Conference /Miami Music Week / Ultra Music Week… and to extend conference to more than just 1 day, 1 weekend for 1 week. I am thankful to the Ultra boys for finally coming to their senses and doing 2 weekends. Now they can make even more money. All I have left to do is convince them to lift all the “Ultra Artist Exclusives” so that adults can also enjoy Carl Cox and other “exclusive” artists at our favorite adult events, pool parties, clubs and afterhours. Artists should be free to perform or create what they like, when they like and where they like and, anything which prohibits or limits artist’s freedom is anti-art and is the complete opposite of what EDM stands for. These exclusives are hurting our local venues and employees and are keeping the over 21 crowd visitors from enjoying their fav DJs. As I said before, I LOVE ULTRA and even saved its ass and kept it alive one year when the organizers were broke but I will not stand for monopolization in our industry or of our artists and especially when it creates an unfair competition towards our local business and venue owners. Greed and the monopolization of artists to the extent where you hurt our local businesses are NOT the ingredients of the EDM formula. These Ultra imposed exclusives are not just for MMC week as they also prohibit the artists from performing locally or in South Florida up to 90 days before or after MMC, which is our high tourist season. Establishments such as the giant Ice Palace Studios are going dark with no events or DJ’s during these 2 weeks of Music Conference because they “cannot get DJs.” The same is happening to many Miami and South Beach venues that own or rent property and pay mortgages, rent, taxes and employees not just one weekend at the park but 365 days a year. The irony of this is that Ultra is renting our public parks (Bayfront Park) to do so, which btw is completely illegal according to the Bert J Harris Act. In fact, the City of Miami could be liable for allowing this unfair competition by renting its land to Ultra who continuously ignores the local business owner’s and City’s requests to lift the DJ exclusivities. It took some work for us to get 2 weeks of music conference and now we are all the better for it. We have more days to enjoy music and Miami and, Ultra has more days to make more millions. It is time that they stop being so greedy and selfish and give back to the local business owners and community that hosts and supports them. Give the artists their artistic freedom and lift the Ultra exclusives that are hurting our community and local business owners or give us back our park.
FUTURE OF EDM. I am hoping that the future of Electronic Dance Music will be the complete opposite of the commercial Mash Up sound you hear at VIP clubs today. This sound is monotonous, tiring and not even the DJs that play it like it. In fact, they actually hate it but they sold out to it and are now stuck playing it. The sound reminds me of the Walt Disney Electric Parade. Some people call it Swedish House Music but I call it VIP Confetti Music but no matter what you call it, it is complete rubbish and what is worse is that it generates the complete opposite energy and effect of what dance music was designed to do, which is for people to dance. Believe it or not, the plan was never for you to show up, stand on a dance floor ignoring your date our friends and look at some clown jumping up and down waving his finger in the air while playing prerecorded laptop sets. Fortunately EDM fans are very intelligent and educated and they are finally catching on to these theatrics. These DJ finger waving performing clowns have numbered days. Techno, Tech, Deep House and other underground EDM genres will prevail. In case you do not understand what I mean by VIP Confetti Music, just visit the top 100 in the “progressive” category on my fav music dance music website and Robert Sillerman’s latest acquisition, Beatport.com. I remember when the Beatport progressive dance music chart was actually progressive.
Robert Sillerman / SFX. If you have not heard by now Robert Sillerman AKA SFX is spending a billion dollars to buy and control the EDM Industry. Some people are labeling Sillerman “Big Brother” and think he will be the end of EDM as we know and love it. I have been around long enough to know better. I lived the end of Disco, Rap, Hip Hop, Mash Up and hopefully soon Confetti Music. EDM is not going anywhere.
I respect and admire Sillerman but sometimes he gets himself into businesses that he has no business being in such as the real estate deal he did in Anguilla. I have no idea who is advising him on EDM but they are completely steering him the wrong way. You don’t buy the milk, then the cow, and then the ranch, you buy the ranch with the cows first. He should have spent his money in buying the biggest DJ agency first and not the trendy clubs and festivals that DJs play at. Or at least started his own DJ booking and management agency by stealing the top agents from the existent agencies. They would have brought their DJ clients with them and signed them on to multiyear contracts. This would have been a fraction of the cost and a lot more manageable. As is, he is the owner of a bunch of clubs and festivals that are going or will be going out of style before his EDM Company goes public. What is worse is that he has no one to control or oversee all the club and festival owners and operators he left in charge. Think of it as being the owner of a fleet of pirate ships and thinking that all your ship pirate captains will stay honest and true. How many club or festival owners or operators would you trust with the keys to your house and the combination to your safe? Robert, do yourself a favor and find someone who understands EDM and what is at stake, clubs and festivals are not radio or TV stations. As they say, “hire the best to watch the rest.”
But, the biggest thing that Sillerman seems to be missing is the spirit of EDM and House music. Sure, it’s easy to look at the scene now and see it as being ripe for commercial takeover but the truth is that this scene has always resisted and rejected that path and will again unless they see it as authentic. I know that, once EDM fans get a whiff of the corporate control, they will rebel and run back to the sounds, artists and venues that they see as authentic. Unfortunately, the SFX pirate captain brigade doesn’t get this. They’ll learn, as many before them have, that this is a different scene and that our fans are not so easily fooled.
SALE OF SPACE. It is true; I sold Club Space and this will be my last Space MMC. I’m very proud of what we created in Downtown Miami and have been privileged to work with some amazing and talented people. 13 years is a very long time for any club to be around and I couldn’t have done it without all the people who supported Space in so many ways. Its 130 years if you want to compare it to human years. It was time for me to move on and let someone else carry the Space torch.
Space was ahead of its time; it was the antiestablishment to the South Beach commercial VIP clubs with the French velvet-rope attitude that unfortunately still prevails today. Space was underground and so separated from the norm that few gave it or me a chance of success. The only person who actually saw my vision and believed in me was Ricardo, the owner of Pacha Ibiza. We were at a dinner party in Ibiza back in 1999 and I pulled out a set of Space blue prints and showed them to Roberto. He looked at the plans and looked into my eyes and said, “esto va tio.” If I had to pick a club mentor, he would be the one. The rest is club history. Now it is time for history to repeat itself. It is time for a new space which will set the bar for the next decade.
Space was a vision I carried with me for almost 20 years since my first visit to Ibiza in 1981. The concept that I am working on now is a product of a vision I have been formulating in my head since Space opened with Danny Tenaglia in 2000. This new space will hopefully have the same effect on our industry as the first Space. It will be bigger and better since I now possess a more thorough and extensive knowledge of the qualities and details that make a club a legend. In other words, I know now what I wish I had known then and plan to use that knowledge to create something truly unique. This space will be the antiestablishment of this new era and once again the antithesis of the South Beach / Las Vegas commercial VIP confetti clubs.
HIERBAS IBICENCAS. Aaah Hierbas! Why can’t all alcoholic beverages and spirits taste like this? I fell in love with this heavenly nectar the first time I went to Ibiza back in 1981. It is the favorite drink of Ibiza and my DJ friends and it is finally available in the States. In fact, it will be making its debut at this year’s Music Conference so ask for “Hierbas” at your favorite club, restaurant or pool party. Shots or “chupitos” as they call them in Spain or on the rocks, Hierbas is delicious any way you drink it. Go towww.hierbasusa.comfor the complete Hierbas story and enjoy the sights and sounds of Miami Music Conference with Hierbas Ibicencas by Mari Mayans. It is 100% Ibiza.
Enjoy the conference, drink responsively and don’t forget to tip,