Potentially the most important summit and business congregation to date in regards to electronic dance music (“EDM”) is taking place 22-24 May in Ibiza, Spain by the International Music Summit (“IMS”). Pete Tong, IMS founder, cultural icon, and legendary Producer/DJ describes IMS as “a three day summit at the Ibiza Gran Hotel focused on the world of electronic dance music. Five hundred delegates from around the world fly in to network, create, converse, and exchange music, ideas and debate the issues that affect the business of EDM.”
As many dance music fans, music industry executives, and DJ/Producers are aware, the recent entrance of Wall Street capital by SFX Entertainment (“SFX”) is perhaps the most important moment — in regards to artistry as well as business — in the history of electronic dance music. Billboard Magazine ranked in its December 2012 issue, Mr. Robert Sillerman’s (the Founder, Executive Chairman, and CEO of SFX) entrance into the dance music industry as EDM’s most important moment of 2012. Mr. Sillerman and SFX are well represented at IMS Ibiza 2013’s summits, with Mr. Shelly Finkel, SFX’s Head of Acquisitions, cited on IMS’ website as a lead panelist.
The entertainment industry has a long and storied history based in purity and independence, which is then fundamentally changed and affected by institutionalized – or, Wall Street and big business — capital. Understanding this history and its chronic and recurring effects in all of entertainment’s realms seems fundamental — not only to dance music, but all entertainment industries. History has repeatedly revealed the effects of power and control on artistry and its distribution.
In its purest form, the critical debate is about supply and demand, and the nature of oligopolies, monopolies, and power in the hands of few.
To date, SFX has already announced the acquisitions of Disco Productions, Beatport, ID&T (the largest dance event promoter in the world, Tomorrowland, Sensation, Sensation White, Sensation Black, Mysteryland, Energy, Thunderdome, Dirty Dutch, Welcome To The Future, Amazone Project, and TIKTAK), Dayglow Productions (which stages over 125 events annually), Huka Entertainment, as well as Opium Group and Miami Marketing Group the owner/operators of most major clubs/distribution channels in Miami – the U.S.’s primary dance music market driver (owners of Mansion, SET, Mokai, Cameo, and Opium at the Seminole Hard Rock, and LIV, Story, and Arkadia, respectively). SFX has attempted the acquisition of over 50 additional dance music related entities globally, including Insomniac Events. Mr. Sillerman states that he expects to deploy $1.0 billion in his EDM-related acquisition efforts.
SFX and Mr. Sillerman’s acquisitions give him meaningful influence in the industry, and according to his own statement, he is just warming up. He states, “Beatport gives us direct contact with the D.J.’s and lets us see what’s popular and what’s not. Most important, it gives us a massive platform for everything related to E.D.M.”
Mr. Sillerman’s past is well documented, and understanding history — as is always the case — is paramount to anyone that truly cares about dance music, artistry. Fans and industry professionals should recall the negative effects of power and control throughout music’s history. Per Mixjunkies.com:
“In the 1990s, Robert Sillerman created a nationwide network of concert promoters. He spent a little over $1 billion to make this happen. He then sold the company to Clear Channel Entertainment for $4.4 billion. Those promoters laid the basis for what is Live Nation in this day and age. And as we all know Live Nation is putting a strangle-hold on many aspects of the music industry. In the late 2000s, Live Nation started buying out major music venues and signing artists to 360 Deals. A 360 Deal is when a company pays the artist a large lump sum and then they re-coup that money from all of the artists revenue streams. Because of these deals taking place, Live Nation wouldn’t allow artists not signed with them to play the venues. With them having control of the venues, they could control the ticket prices and add all those little fees that make you want to rip your hair out.”
Additionally, Mr. Sillerman’s SFX isn’t the only entity attempting to acquire and control the electronic dance music industry. In 2012, Live Nation purchased Cream Holdings Limited, which produces dance music events in the U.K. and Australia, HARD Events, a leading electronic music concert promoter and festival operator. The Chicago Tribune reported, “Live Nation has eyes on another continent, Asia.” Finally, on May 2nd 2013, Live Nation announced its purchase of 50% of Insomniac Events.
Despite the recurrence of big business and institutionalized capital’s homogenizing effects on the music industry, historically, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has turned a blind eye toward executing upon its mandate:
“The United States International Trade Commission is an independent, quasijudicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade. “The ITC provides “the President, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and Congress with independent, quality analysis, information, and support on matters relating to tariffs and international trade and competitiveness; and (3) maintain the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. In so doing, the Commission serves the public by implementing U.S. law and contributing to the development of sound and informed U.S. trade policy.”
Mr. John Langdon, Chairman of Massive Enterprises (“Massive”) and member of the Producer/DJ band Kalm Kaoz (aka SlingR), was interviewed by The Huffington Post, an influential dance music media source in the U.S with 15 million unique page views per month, and published a passionate dissertation written by Mr. Langdon, which laid out a comprehensive dialogue on the current and future economic state of dance music, with constructive consideration to the fans, artists, Wall Street, institutionalized business, and SFX.
Mr. Langdon has over 23 years of middle-market private equity experience on Wall Street, and most recently was Managing Director of the $2.8 billion private equity fund Platinum Equity, as co-head of PLMM, Platinum Equity’s lower middle market investment group.
Mr. Langdon states that Massive Enterprises, “through the love of music, the universal language, we hope to support and be a value-adding solutions provider to the independent artist and dance music industry as well as fund the Hexagon House,” a charity formed by Mr. Langdon to “save twelve souls per year that would otherwise be lost.”
In addition to the Hexagon House, Massive Enterprises’ five other subsidiaries, Massive Merchandising, Massive Festival Management, Massive Decks Recordings, Massive Advisors, and Massive DynaSystems, provide various services to support, nurture, and facilitate the continued growth and success of the dance music industry and its participants — from Producer/DJs to festival operators. Massive provides what it terms “iBranding,” unique and proprietary merchandising solutions, coupled with highly proprietary sourcing relationships and lowest-cost U.S. festival properties. Importantly, Massive “provides an atypical, balanced approach to the record label/artist contract structure.” Massive also provides lean operations and financing consulting services, coupled with money management services for the artist. Lastly, utilizing hi-tech, Massive promotes the free flow of music, information, and love in the community.
Also included on IMS’ panels are Patrick Moxey (Virgin Records, Ultra Records, President of Sony Music’s Dance/Electronic Music division, Ted Cohen (Managing Partner, TAG Strategic, formerly with EMI, Capitol, Virgin, Angel/Blue Note, Parlophone, Chrysalis and Rhapsody), Pete Tong (producer/DJ, BBC Radio 1), Bob Lefsetz (author of “The Lefsetz Letter”), Jean Michel Jarre (French composer, performer, music producer and designer), Sven Vath (German Producer/DJ), Nile Rodgers (musician, composer and guitarist), and Ben Turner (owner of Graphite, an artist management/brand-music agency).
Mr. Langdon is one of few voices currently articulating the debate openly and transparently, in a manner that is approachable by various constituencies – fans, artists, and businesses. He has an uncommon combination of Wall Street standing and knowledge, along with a deep passion, love and concern for what he terms his “beloved house music.” The editorial on Mr. Langdon and his economic treatise became one of the most shared and downloaded pieces in Huffington Post’s Entertainment Section while also being picked up by other media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and BPM Mag. As of today, according to the International Music Summit website, the panel has representation from artist managers, agents, DJ/producers, as well as SFX, and Mr. Langdon comments, “I hope that my experience on Wall Street combined with my love of dance music, may be a constructive addition to the dialogue at such an important moment in dance music history.”
Massive’s management team, Ms. Jennifer Lai, CEO of Massive, and Mr. Nathan Filby, Creative Director of Massive and fellow member of Kalm Kaoz, along with Mr. Langdon, will be attending IMS in Ibiza as delegates. By attending as audience members, fans, and delegates, they hope to represent the independent artists, engage the panel as citizens of electronic dance music, raise questions, and hope to bring clarity and balance to the panel. “Independence takes many forms,” Mr. Langdon states, “Massive Enterprises and Kalm Kaoz will be there – you’ll spot us easily…
fists in the air, we love house music!
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