We smell something green.
After all, this is Amsterdam: home of the hash café. The smoke-a-thon city. But during Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), it’s the waft of money we smell. It’s thick enough to overpower any other odor you’d encounter on the city streets, and while the sound of the music is constantly evolving, the bottom of this industry is nowhere near dropping out.
Why? Since the dawn of Napster, prehistoric music execs have been on a global run to figure out how to make money… again. Now that they’ve found capital in dance music, they’re hanging on tight; and chances are, they’ll continue to hang on until EDM falls out of mainstream favor.
But that’s not happening this year. ADE 2014 booms with over 300 events across 80 venues. Fresh-faced #20something CEOs, label managers and newbie agents come to ADE resembling industry OGs (who are also present), except that the bumper crop is tech-savvy and Friday-casual in denim and logo tees. Add to this mix the DJs, promoters, bloggers, digital app start-uppers, shutterbugs, branding specialists, lawyers and fans.
After five days of meetings, panels, interviews, parties and one selfish visit to the Red Light District (you know, to see what it’s all about), we return with 10 things that stuck out most amid the plumes of ADE 2014.
1. BEATS, NOT WORDS
Unless you’re the loose-cannon Seth Troxler or the comedic Dillon Francis, for the most part, DJs want to make you dance. Chewing their ears off about the “EDM website you just built” will only bore and annoy them. Most DJs are about beats, not words, and ultimately the same is true for most everyone else in attendance.
2. LAUNCH YO’ SHIT
From Smirnoff Gold to #BeatportDecade to the latest in tech innovations from legends Livid and Moog or apps like Crossfader and EDMX, ADE is the place to launch yo’ shit.
3. FUTURE HOUSE IN THE HOUSE
The buzzword at ADE this year was “future house,” a term everyone hates but uses anyway, making it not so dissimilar from the “EDM” acronym circa 2010. Coming from artists like Tchami and Autograf, the deep, sexy sound behaves like a beauty and works like a beast on the dancefloor.
4. RETURN OF THE ALBUM
This has always been a singles industry, but the full-length is making a serious return! Producers who stand out with accessible yet intelligent albums will reign. (Predictions from ADE include Joris Voorn and Aphex Twin.)
5. DON’T SLEEP
If you need a lot of it, you can’t work in dance music! At ADE, the panels and meetings start in the morning and run all day. Then the parties kick off late and continue until dawn. You do the math.
The majority of people we spoke to that work in this industry say they don’t do drugs (this excludes marijuana) or haven’t “in years.”
7. GLOBAL TAKEOVER
ADE is crowded. Representatives from every sector of the globe line Amsterdam’s cobblestone canals like the United Nations of EDM. Each country inhabits its own form of dance music and is ready to expand. EDC goes to London, Mysteryland goes to Woodstock, Ministry of Sound and Creamfields bring a selection of out-of-town visitors from places like Italy to places like Croatia. International expansion means a future filled with diverse crowds, agnostic of skin color or income brackets. Dance music is blind, but it’s making people see.
8. ACCEPT, LEARN, REPEAT
If you’ve been in the scene for a long time, you can stay in it if you just pay attention. Walking around ADE and spotting veteran DJ Chris Liebing exchanging hugs and a chat with Hardwell proves the mainstays don’t hate; they accept, learn and repeat.
9. THE POLL WE LOVE TO HATE
People love, despise and scrutinize the Top 100 DJs poll every year. Here’s the solution: If you don’t like Hardwell—who this year took #1 for the second time—then just don’t watch. You will anyway, though, because for better or worse, we’re drawn to it like moths to the flame.
10. DIFFERENT STROKES
The music at ADE genre-jumped from Soul Clap to Jazzy Jeff to Matador to Martin Garrix to the Martinez Brothers, and so on. No matter your palate, ADE has something for everyone. And while we’re all about a lively conversation and debate, it ultimately seems useful to agree that we exist in an incredibly diverse sonic landscape that offers lots of different strokes for many different folks. This is dance music after all; it’s supposed to be fun.