If you have been following my daily Miami diary on InDaMix Worldwide (now also archived here on Spirit Of House), you know about my mixed emotions of this years Winter Music Conference (WMC) and M3 Summit...
Everytime the dates for the conferences are announced, I can't wait to pack up my things and leave the winter season here in Switzerland and come to a nice and sunny place that is known to the world as Miami Beach - even though I'm getting more and more sceptic every year about the need of going there. For me, as a journalist, it is all about meeting my existing contacts and friends, making new contacts, checking out new talents and parties - and of course, I always look for new music to be featured on Spirit of House.
Now lets look back at this year... Overall, there where way too many parties, the industry is suffering from the change away from vinyl to digital formats (CD and MP3), there is a lack of interest and enthusiasm compared to previous years - all of this and the surprisingly bad weather had a big effect on how I will remember this years participation. I know that I'm not the only one that feels that in general the conferences are getting worse from year to year - some reminisce about the old days when the WMC was taking place at the Hilton Hotel, when you could meet everybody - and I mean everybody - at the pool of that said hotel.
Nowadays, you gotta chose the 'right' party where you expect to meet most of the industry people. But what party is this gonna be? In the last years, the Defected party proofed to be such a place, but this year, it was different. Still, lots of industry people where there, but in comparison to last year, significantly less - of course, this might be caused (or at least be affected) by the fact it was raining that day, but I strongly feel that the real reason is the lack of interest and enthusiasm. Gladly, I met lots of people that didn't came to the Defected party at the King Street, Deep gets Salted or other parties - but still, many people that were in Miami I did not see at all! Now if that doesn't proove that something is going down the wrong way with the conferences...
The massive amount of parties made it hard to chose where to go. As I (as mentioned in my daily diary) don't see a real reason for regular parties being taken down to Miami, I've chosen some smaller parties to be checked out, with the result that lot of the times I ended up being in sparely crowded places. This makes me feel sad because I could feel the enthusiasm these smaller labels and DJs brought to Miami, but they did not get back the recognition they deserve. At least I can not complain about the price increase (explosion as other people reported) at the club doors as I got in everywhere for free... But I cannot leave the party issue without mentioning the fact that some parties were rescheduled or changed venue the last minute. This added to the already existing confusion and chaotic schedule of the conference.
What had a great impact on my general impression was the they way music gets treated. With the dramatic change to digital, where the taste makers almost solely use CD's nowadyas, there is no longer the need to invest in an expensive promotion for the music in Miami - in fact, more and more they get the music before the conference (either on CD or sent as MP3 files). Also with digital download stores now available in various formats, the costs for putting out music dramatically dropped, with the result that there is too much music around, and that music in many occasions is missing inspiration and creativity.
Remember that a couple of years ago we were talking about the tunes of the conference? Can I name the tunes of Miami 2006? No, I can't. Of course I have my favorites, but I simply don't feel able to judge what tunes defined this years Miami. Would it be the tunes the got most plays? Would it be the tunes with the greatest reaction from the crowd? In my opinion it would be the tunes that everybody talkes in the streets, but most seemed to be overhelmed by all the music around.
You should also read the review from Olivier Velay (Stalwart Records) about his Miami experience this year. We share quite some thoughts about this years Miami conferences... and I absolutely agree with his concluding statement (I couldn't have found any better words):
"House Music has almost lost its essence on the way to democratisation. On one side, the most commercial one, the music and the artists are now moving on to become (almost) part of Pop Music and the artists being Pop Icons for the new generation of clubbers and listeners. And on the other, the purveyors of fine underground stuff, only heard by a more mature audience, might unfortunately well stay very underground, a bit like in the Jazz community. So, is it worth it ? Is it worth spending time & money to go to Miami for all this hassle ? Is it worth continuing to support and promote House Music ? Is it worth continuing to feel like being Don Quichotte trying to fight against windmills ? If this all carries on like that, House Music will definitely loose itself (if it’s not done yet…). All good stuff will remain very underground for a while, until maybe in a few years it comes back to the surface and explodes for a new musical revolution, wipping out all the crap from the surface of the planet. I have a dream…." Olivier Velay