Monday, February 28, 2011

Electronic Spotlight: March Madness

Words by Stevie Tee

It’s that time of year when electronic music fans start their yearly crawl out of darkened night clubs and warehouses to enjoy Spring’s emergence coupled with all of the dance music that the world has to offer. Yes, it’s March Madness, and I’m not talking about college hoops. Transpiring this month are Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival as well as the emergence of tour dates and summer festival lineups that will set the music lover’s schedule for the rest of the summer. This is a controversial year for both WMC and UMF as the two events that used to run in tandem are now separated by more than two weeks. For the next month, we will be spotlighting different artists that will be turning up the heat in Miami, so let’s take a closer look at both festivals...

Winter Music Conference

Now in its 26th consecutive year, Winter Music Conference is a week-long marathon of music. The clubs in Miami will be stacked with heavy-hitting line ups all week, not to mention shows at mansions, beaches and pool parties. Aside from a flowing rave scene, the event earns the title of a conference by staging workshops and seminars during the week. While this is a perfect destination for electronic music fans, WMC is also a highly regarded networking opportunity for producers, DJs, promoters, record distributors, software/hardware companies and other industry folks. This year’s separation of WMC from UMF seems to be making WMC more of an insider event, while UMF seems to be the high-profile concert destination.

Ultra Music Festival

Ultra started as a single-day outdoor festival to cap-off WMC back in 1999. Since its inception, Ultra has grown along with the American music festival circuit and has clearly distinguished itself as the Lollapalooza of electronic music. Many electronic music fans today yearn for a trip to UMF without knowledge its origins with the WMC. With all of that in mind, it’s no wonder that questions and controversy arose when Ultra announced that this year it would be held on a separate weekend from WMC and would be expanding to a third day of music for the first year. With names like Tiesto, Chemical Brothers, Duran Duran and Underworld topping the stacked lineup, this is an electronic music festival with a magnitude unmatched in the United States. Don’t worry about grabbing a last minute ticket for this year’s festival because they are completely sold out. Much like WMC, Ultra is throwing its own pre-parties the week prior and after-parties throughout the the week of the festival.

Editorial note: I’m not quite in the know on this one and there are differing opinions about what happened this year with the scheduling change. WMC and UMF have regularly been held during the last week/weekend of March and as such Ultra was scheduled for the last weekend of March. WMC actually made the announcement this past November that it would be held earlier in the month for the first time. However, Bill Kelly, co-founder of WMC, had this to say, “We had an agreement with Ultra whereby Ultra would present its event during the WMC dates. They broke away from the agreement last minute. That being said, there are many positive developments that have resulted from Ultra’s decision to split with WMC. While there was a sort of synergy between us, they are two very different events with different objectives.”

Click here for the full article regarding WMC vs. UMF...

Many still disagree with Kelly calling the move “reckless” to the survival of the conference. I don’t think it’s a good move for either party. Ultra Music Festival’s lineup, after-parties and other events suffer from losing the legitimate industry conference and Winter Music Conference will not attract the same kind of attention as it did with Ultra capping the weekend. I’d like to see these events placed back together next year.


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