Walking up the street first thing in the morning (which is 9:30am here on Miami time,) I was accosted by two guys handing out party flyers. That is way too early to start the day - but then again I do appreciate their tenacity.
I started the day with Cary Vance (aka Mr Dance) of Promo Only Promotions. With decades of promotion experience at major and indie labels, he heads the dance radio promotions and has an insane record of success at breaking records. Never the one to hold back his opinions, a conversation with him is always passionate and animated. I managed to get out of him that there will be a new club chart coming soon that will revolutionize how things are tracked. While I can't divulge details at this moment, I will say that I am excited to see how this works out as it seems like a very fair and equitable way of doing things with regards to everyone who is involved.
Three panels are a lot for one day - Digital Distribution, Media/Marketing/Social Networking and Q&A with Beatport CEO Matthew Adell. All three panels were standing room only with the room completely full.
The Digital Distribution panel was solid but devolved a bit due to a few oddball questions and it felt like a few of the panelists weren't really used to their full potential. Serona Elton, Assistant Professor from University of Miami, was a gem offering some of the most intelligent input I have heard on a panel in year. Watch for an article from her on the site really soon. A few few services to protect labels and artists were mentioned including glue.com and ripBlog which monitors download sites for copyrighted content. Jim Robinson from Promo Only brought the point home that it takes "months of paperwork to take down illegal blogs" and that the laws "need to be changed to make ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have to be responsible for content." Jeff Diones from Serato was quite animated as well mentioning that in the sea of music that "money gets people's ear" but doesn't keep them. I kind of chuckled when Jeff said that "there is no new blood coming into the industry."
Beatport CEO Matthew Adell was quite frank and open with the crowd. The three biggest points of interest were probably that - Beatport sales will soon be tracked by Soundscan, they are not going to publicly traded (no IPO coming,) and they are going to start reporting to Billboard a club chart based on actual sales.
The Buzz panel was a great workshop / how to session on how to turbocharge your media, marketing and social networking. Major points included that you "have to have a story" (Jim Tremayne - DJ Times) and can use social media to "create a demand for your art with an army of evangelists" who support you (Mat Bates - Slacker Radio.) Starting out, you need to "create a local vibe so you have a fan base" to start from (Ramon Wells - Ross-Ellis.) With the amount of media out there, it is important to "cut clutter" as everything you post "has to be a credible point" and "can't be noise" (Susan Stipcianos - Dream Team.) Another major point was to "think of yourself as a business" (Justin Johnson - IODA) and "as a brand" (Mat Bates.) A few sites mentioned were fantrail.com and colligent.com to help you get started.
After all those panels and an amazing interview with Dirty Vegas (watch for it on the site soon,) it was time to venture out and hear some music. I started down at the Adidas Original store on 8th where Mr. V (Sole Channel Music) was pumping house beats to a storeful of heads bouncing along. These instore appearances are always kind of surreal - huge massive dj superstars playing these intimate small stores.
Up the block, I stopped at the Monitor Sound party where Giuseppe D was rocking the beats (love that new version of "Carnival de Paris" by Three Caballeros) and Michael M and Lori Michael both knocked it out on stage. Lori's "Rebound" was a big record in my club sets so it was awesome to hear it live. Michael M has so many props that at one point I wanted to yell Carrottop (all in love.) Looking forward to getting my hands on his new track "No Way Back."
Then it was time for "Let the Singer Be Heard." First let me say, that getting in was a complete nightmare. The venue was too small for the calibre of talent that they had. I was in a mob of people, no line - just a mass - and the place was overcrowded. It was one of those times when I was going to say - ah just toss it - and move on somewhere else. Then I remembered how much I love this event and how its always a highlight. I am so glad that I didn't give up and paid the $30 cover.
The show was AMAZING. Every soulful/gospel house singer was on that stage - Dawn Tallman, Kenny Bobien, Kim Davis, Charlotte Small, Arnold Jarvis.. the list goes on and on. Todd Terry and Quentin Harris were on the decks - Todd going old school ("Once in a Lifetime" and "White Lines" were highlights) and Quentin going soulful. Robin S made a surprise special appearance singing her hits "Show Me Love" and "Love for Love" as well as an AMAZING interpretation of Phyllis Hyman's "You Know How to Love Me." At one point, the CD stopped during "Show Me Love" - without missing a beat, she got everyone clapping and she kept on singing. Melanie Daniels was another highlight, I had never heard of her but I will be searching down her music when I get home. The B-Crew - Barbara Tucker with Dawn, Charlotte and Melanie ended with a new song "How Can We Save the World If We Don't Get Back to Love?" What a fitting sentiment for these turbulent times.