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III Points Founder on Learning From His Mistakes and Looking For Those “F–king God’ Moments Ahead of 10th Anniversary Show

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When David Sinopoli answers the phone, he’s at his Miami nightclub Jolene, rolling joints.

Sinopoli, along with member of his staff, are prepping roughly 1,000 joints as part of the gift bags artists will be getting at III Points, the festival Sinopoli co-founded in 2013, which launches its 2023 edition on Friday (Oct. 20) at Miami’s Mana Wynwood center and its adjacent blocks. Other goodie bag items include crystals and magic mushrooms. (But not too many, as in past years, a few artists got so high that they had trouble getting onstage.)

“It’s become [a tradition] where we can all get together, eat some food, everyone plays music,” Sinopoli says of this annual rolling session. “It’s really nice, fun and quite wholesome.”

It’s also one of the personal touches that have made III Points a standout on the U.S. electronic festival circuit over the last decade, while also elevating Miami one of the crown jewels cities in the country’s electronic scene. It’s founders grew up in Miami, and the lineup is 60% local acts — Coffintexts, Jonny From Space, Nick León — along with 2023 headliners including Skrillex, Fred again.., Iggy Pop, Caroline Polacheck, Grimes and Black Coffee. The food vendors and visual artists are also all from the city, as are many of the 50,000 people who attend over its two days.

“I think it’s just very authentically Miami, and a real time capsule of Miami sonically and visually right now,” Sinopoli says of putting on a festival with an identify and real personality. “I think people feel that when they come.”

III Points is able to rep the city so well because Sinopoli and his team — “they’re connected here 365” — know it so intimately. Sinopoli is also the co-owner of Space, the city’s 24-hour bacchanal of a nightclub that he, along with Davide Danese and Coloma Kaboomsky, took over in 2016. He’s also the owner and operator of Factory Town, a 190,000-square foot arts and nightlife complex built in a World War II-era mattress factory, as well as the cocktail bar Floyd and Jolene, the intimate “sound room” where Sinopoli and his some staff are rolling Js.

David Sinopoli

Born in New Jersey, Sinopoli relocated to Fort Myers with his family when he was 15. He was diagnosed with cancer while in high school, once spending five months in isolation at a Durham Children’s Hospital. A bone marrow transplant from his brother eventually brought him back to good health, and after he finished high school, Sinopoli went to college in Gainesville. He rose through that city’s nightlife scene then making a name for himself in South Florida, where he founded III Points in 2013 with his business partner Erica Freshman. Their statement-making debut lineup featured James Murphy, Jamie xx and DJ Shadow, a crew that was 180 degrees away from the big-name EDM DJs dominating the city’s club scene in that era.

Carving out a place for underground and indie-leaning electronic music, and getting acts to town that might otherwise never play there, “is part of the reason I started III Points,” Sinopoli says.

Routing a tour to Miami has long been financially challenging for artists, with many acts just skipping the city altogether. “To play Miami and be supported by Orlando and Tampa on the way down almost doesn’t make sense [for artists],” Sinopoli says. “A lot of time Orlando and Tampa don’t support the same things Miami does. Miami is in Florida, but it’s not f–king Florida.”

III Points has also been embraced within the industry for booking new acts agents are excited about, but who don’t often yet have major name recognition. Sinopoli says while such signings “maybe are not making the most sense financially,” they payoff is in fresh lineups, industry goodwill and the opportunity to break artists and grow along with them.

As the festival has expanded Sinopoli says many agents now just block off the weekend in advance then look for an offer from III Points. This is easier given the fest happens in the fall, the opposite side of the year from Miami’s other major electronic music festival, Ultra. While there’s some lineup overlap, each largely does its own thing, with Ultra driving loads of business at Space, Factory Town and Floyd each March.

Business was also shored up when III Points partnered with electronic festival behemoth Insomniac Events in 2019. The company took an ownership stake in Space and became partners in all of Sinopoli’s business ventures. “They sat with us for a long time before they stepped in in some of the areas we really needed them,” he says. “They let us make mistakes first, before they were like, ‘We can help you with that.’”

“I’m not even 40 yet,” he continues, “so I’m learning so much by mistake, and sometimes you can’t afford to keep making mistakes, because it will put you out of business.”

Insomniac has been especially helpful in training him and his team in marketing and budget management. “We would think we made money or only lost that much money,” he says, “then the real report would come out and it’d be like, a swift kick in the stomach. They helped us understand that you start with this budget, then every 30 days you cut it down, then cut it down again.”

The partnership was especially stabilizing in the pandemic and its aftermath. In 2020, III Points moved its dates four times: “It was [Insomniac’s] backing that allowed us to do it,” Sinopoli says. “If it was up to us, we would have cashed in and walked away.”

The peace of mind of solvency allows for a focus on music and experiences. When assembling lineups, the team first considers who hasn’t been to Miami in awhile, and who’s never been at all. Sinopoli also dreams up the moments and vibes he’d like to create, then plugs in the artists mostly likely to conjure them. This worked especially well in 2017, when The xx played the mainstage with a glowing light on the festival’s giant disco ball (“the largest disco ball on the southeast!”) that gently twinkled on the side of the warehouse wall.

“It almost looked like raindrops, then all sudden this cold drizzle of rain started coming down on the crowd.” Sinopoli looked next to him and saw his production manager was crying. “Because it wasn’t something we could have planned,” he says. “It was like this f–king God moment.”

This weekend will, fingers crossed, deliver other such magic. III Points’ six stages will host the aforementioned headliners, along with Explosions In The Sky, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Alice Glass, SBTRKT, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Moscoman & Whitesquare and many other stars and up and comers culled from both around the world and around the block.

Sinopoli laughs when asked if he feels like he runs the city’s electronic scene. “No! No, no,” he insists, listing a dozen names of people on his staff that help make it all possible. He’s been having a lot of big-picture conversations about the festival’s ten-year anniversary, but his days are more about details, like lights on the disco ball and joints rolled with love.

“We’re so deep in the bubble that I don’t really even grab on to any outside significance of it,” he says. “It’s really just about the next show.”

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