Wednesday was quite a full day, from morning to evening. I was very honored to be on the Digital Love Panel with Shane German (SoundExchange), Rich Masio (Ioda), Brad Roulier (Beatport) and moderator Alexandra Greenberg (MSO.) It was a lively chat about all things digital - promotion, online services, digital downloads, and more.
Alexandra asked a great question - what was the defining moment when digital was the way to go? I answered as a DJ and a journalist. As a DJ, it was when I couldn't find Love Inc's "You're a Superstar" on cd or Vinyl since it was a Canadian-only release in early 1998. I tracked down the mp3 online and downloaded it. Don't worry, I bought a legal cd copy when it was later released internationally. As a journalist, it was WMC 2004 when it seemed that digital press/websites, like this one, were finally being taken seriously. I remember trying to RSVP for events in 2003 and being ignored. At WMC 2004, it was like magic because everyone was responding to my emails.
When asked about the future and things to watch for, I mentioned three websites to watch for - Fuzz.com (myspace networking with the ability to legally send mixtapes,) JamNow.Com (Ichat capability with live music allowing musicians in different parts of the world to perform together and stream live to a web audience,) and MasterBeat.Com (the dance remix of Itunes - indie and major label dance digital downloads with a consumer focus that reports to soundscan.)
After the panel, I was invited to join Miss Sarah Atereth to a lunch for Billboard reporting club DJs to celebrate the release of her new single "It Doesn't Take Much." Sarah is one of those rare magical creatures who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She has worked hard to build a following in the clubs - getting to know the DJs (she knew each one by name), working with top notch remixer/producers and most importantly, releasing great songs ("Fadeaway" and "Out of My Mind.")
At this lunch was when I realized that there weren't that many Billboard Club Chart reporting DJs in attendance at the seminar. There were plenty of label people, promoters, artists, producers, etc but there were only 17 reporters out of a panel of 148. That is just 11.5% of the panel! Realizing this, I was appalled at the lack of participation by this segment of the dance community.
The panels ended with a lively one called "Leftfield Antics: Thinking Outside the PR Box." Animated might just be the best way to describe the conversation which touched on everything from sampling and the state of dance music to celebrity DJs and the blogsphere. The only thing the panelists seemed to agree on was that Steve Aoki is basically the saviour and his upcoming mixed cd will take everything to the next level. Here is a sample of quotes to give you some context:
"Dance is such a vague term that it doesn't mean anything."
- Craig Roseberry (Shifty Entertainment)
"Some people are satisfied living in their Cascada world and going to Long Island and performing 6 times per night."
- Lainie Copicotto (Aurelia Entertainment)
"No one wants to see Tara Reid anymore."
- Craig Roseberry
"To copy crap is the worst thing to do"
- Lainie Copicotto
"There is so much garbage out there"
- Hosh Gurelli (HoshG.Com)
"If it's done again, don't do it again. Leave it alone."
- Craig Roseberry
"If you are going to copy something, do it well."
- Lainie Copicotto
The Wednesday evening parties were quite exceptional. Crystal Method, who had earlier received platinum plaques for their classic CD Vegas which was just rereleased, DJed an intimate event in the Ghost Bar at the Palms. Having danced to their music (Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland) at many a big room event, being able to see them work their magic in a posh lounge was quite a nice spin.
While I was dancing, I noticed a few people sneaking out so I thought it would be good to follow. I ended up in a Hummer driven by Gino Lopinto (VME) with Michael Paoletta, Lainie Copicotto and others to go see Benny Benassi at the Hard Rock. If you've been reading the site for a while (or listening to my radio shows,) you probably realize that I am completely biased - thinking that Benny is just about the sexiest DJ alive with a stage presence like no other. That night at the Body English (Ministry of Sound Wednesdays) in the Hard Rock - Benny rocked it. The place was packed. People were screaming his name. Everyone was dancing and having fun. Benny dropped all kinds of records with many surprises along the way. I danced like I haven't danced in recent memory. It was a great end to another great Billboard Dance Music Summit.
Special thanks and recognition go to Michael Paoletta who has worked for Billboard Magazine for nine years - leading the fight for dance music and supporting the artists along the way. Michael is leaving Billboard for a position with a company where he can make those great branding deals that he has been writing about. We should all be thankful for his leadership in the dance music industry and all the great things he has helped bring along. On a personal level, he is a great friend, mentor and someone I can turn to for great advice.