RS: Are there specific groups Billboard is hoping to target at the seminars?
MP: We want everyone in the industry to be there - label executives, DJs, producers, remixers, artists, independent and major labels, song publishers, label and independent promoters, publicists, radio music and program directors.
People have realized over the years that you can get business done at DMS because it is more intimate than WMC. The WMC has become a big international event - creating dance culture by becoming a big vacation and party destination. With everyone staying in one place at DMS, it is easier to meet people - though it always helps to make appointments in advance.
For example at WMC, with over 3000 registrants you have to wonder how many are industry. Most of the real industry movers and shakers don't even register. If the DMS is not supported by the industry it will not exist - the prime participants have to be industry - label executives, artists, songwriters. For Billboard it is very important to maintain the integrity of its events. However the showcases are for everyone who enjoys clubland.
RS: How has the different locations effected the seminar - for example what did the seminar gain in Atlanta?
MP: Atlanta has a really vibrant club scene. At the closing night party, Stuart Gardner really blew me away. I had never heard him play and experienced him. He was one of the few DJs who knew how to take the dance floor on a journey - up and down several times throughout the night. He clearly knew the roots and history of dance music. Being in Atlanta and discovering that there are still DJs who take music seriously - really having a sense and feel of the music - not just playing track after track. Without the artist, the DJ has no music. There are great tracks and there are not so great tracks - the same with vocals. Stuart found the best of both - house, deep house, trance, commercial and underground - he played the best of everything.
People have always wondered why it wasn't in New York. Larry didn't want people who lived in New York to just stay in their offices and not really attend the summit. If you get people to leave town, they will get more involved. Holding the seminar in New York hasn't had that effect - two months out - we have almost reached last year's total number of registrants.
RS: How long have you (and the rest of Billboard staff) been working on the event?
MP: We had several post-seminar meetings after last year's event. We started going in January and begarn forming a foundation - a loose formation. We decided what we wanted to do and what we wanted achieve, creating the basic structure. Beginning in April we really started wanting commitments and now we are in full swing with several confirmations
RS: What's been a personal highlight of the past seminars for you?
MP: Last year's "Diva Worship" and "The Pioneers of Dance/Electronic Music--The Remix" panels remain highlights for me. Recalling the stories and anecdotes told by Nona Hendryx, Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, Gamble & Huff, Candi Staton, James Mtume and Tom Moulton, among others, still puts a smile on my face. For me, such panels are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Ditto for my one-on-one interview I did with Jocelyn Brown a couple years ago.