DJ Ron Slomowicz: How did you get started in the dance music industry?
Michael Paoletta: I studied fashion design in college, and while designing men's outerwear I was always DJing on and off - more off than on. In 1989, I got my foot in the door with the Dance Music Review and my hobby became an occupation. I had several jobs and always DJed on the side - I never even had a residency except for in 1996 at the Roxy in Switzerland. After a while I decided (like Frankie Knuckles) to devote all my energy to music. I wrote for ten different magazines in the 90s and in 1998 I got offered this incredible position at Billboard.
RS: Writing this widely read column for Billboard, what role do you see yourself possessing in the dance community?
MP: I write and have just one voice that cuts through the hype of clubland - nothing more, nothing less. People hype you on everything but if I like it, I write about it.
RS: How do you feel this role has changed over the years from Bill Coleman to Larry Flick to you?
MP: Each era influenced the writer and each writer had their own musical preferences which they bring to the table. People tend to write about the stuff they like but also strive to discover newcomers and clue readers in to people they should know and care about. The role hasn't changed. We comment on our times - each of us has been examining the times that we are in. We look ahead - confront and question things.
RS: What influence do you have on dance music?
MP: As a writer you influence people who care about what you are saying - not the ones who just want a soundbyte about their product. Those who are interested in clubland and its future are the ones who really read it, even if they disagree, you are getting a reaction.
RS: At the WMC - you spun at the Nervous Breakfast? How did this come about? Do you DJ regularly anywhere? What style do you spin?
MP: I brought four classic records from the 70s - Sharon Redd, Pam Todd and Love Exchange, Gwen Guthrie - and that's what I played. I basically had fun playing for the crowd and had people running up asking what records I was playing.
RS: Enough about you <grin> - let's talk about the Billboard Dance Music Summit - what exactly is it?
MP: The Dance Music Summit is a forum for every facet of the dance music industry - artists, producers, remixers, DJs, radio stations, label executives, booking agents, distributors, publishers, promoters - to come together as a community and express ideas and learn from each other. Its also a great place to network and see live acts and DJs.
RS: How did the Summit begin?
MP: Larry Flick began it seven years ago after having discussion with people in the special events department He sensed that the NMS was getting too big. The NMS was Dance Music Report's seminar. He went to the publisher and said let's do something. The Billboard DMS was created to focus on the industry side of the dance music.
RS: Over the years, how has it grown?
MP: The first year or two people didn't know what to expect. Larry found it difficult to get the things you need to make a summit a success - panelists, artists for showcases, DJs. As the summit has proven itself, it has been easier to get people involved.