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Emerging Markets, Revenue Streams, Track IDs & Beyoncé: 10 Takeaways From ADE 2023

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Last week, the the 28th edition of the annual Amsterdam Dance Event brought thousands of dance industry professionals and nearly 3,000 artists to the city. Over four days (Oct. 18-21), they attended hundreds of panels and more than a thousand after-dark events in more than 200 locations around the city.

There was much fun and many parties. Of course, a lot of knowledge about the dance music ecosystem was also dropped amidst it all. The conference is “inspiring and gets everyone together,” ADE co-organizer Meindert Kennis told Billboard ahead of the event, but, “we also focus on hands-on information … In the end, that’s what a lot of professionals are coming for, and they need to take home value for themselves or their organization. We try to implement that in all the different elements of ADE to really help the industry push itself forward.”

Here are ten such takeaway points from ADE 2023.

Greater sustainability in the industry can be achieved by more strategic tour routing.

A presentation by Claire O’Neill, the CEO and co-founder of sustainability nonprofit A Greener Future, explored the many ways dance music and the wider industry can mitigate carbon emissions, from limiting meat consumption to avoiding private jets to routing tours more efficiently.

“When we have high-speed tours that are happening and you throw on an extra gig and have to go from one place to another … it’s costing a lot of extra expense, people’s time, trucks on the road, flights,” said O’Neill. “Slower tours and better planning are something we’ve been working on with agents and promoters for some time. It’s a slow burner, because these are very entrenched cultures … in order for us to change some of these systems, we’re going to need to actually change the deal structures … If we have to do dartboard tours and fly people all over the place in order to achieve [a show or tour], it’s never going to be sustainable.”

Labels can help break an artist from emerging markets by focusing on listeners from that market who live elsewhere.

During a discussion on how artists from big, foreign markets can gain global traction, Selina Chowdhury, the Head of Marketing for Emerging Markets at Warner Music Group, noted that “something that’s been key and a focus for our artists is marketing to diaspora markets. For example, [for] India, we’re looking at Canada, Australia, the U.S., the U.A.E. and more. There’s probably well over 30 million people.”

She added this this marketing can be achieved by collaborations with artists in these diaspora markets, through touring in these places or through “custom short form content” that can travel and resonate with potential fans thousands of miles away.

Punjabi music is about to be huge.

“I think something that we’ve been starting to hear a lot about in the international music scene, and we’ll hear a lot more about, is Punjabi music — which is really exciting,” Chowdhury added during this presentation, referring to the style of music that originated in India’s Punjab region. “We have a lot of artists that are using traditional rhythms of melodies and are fusing them with more contemporary styles like R&B and hip-hop, especially out of Toronto.”

She specifically name checked Canadian artists Ikky, AP Dillon and Indian artist Diljit Dosanjhdoji, who this year became the first ever Punjabi artist to perform at Coachella.

There’s a method artists can use to get their music noticed by Beatport curators.

Roughly 30,000 tracks are submitted to digital download store Beatport every week. “We’re still one of the only platforms that really puts a lot emphasis on human curation, but obviously we have limits,” the platform’s SVP of Creator Services Helen Sartory said during a panel on essential info to know about the brand. “We can’t listen to and put judgments on 30,000 tracks a week.”

Sartory said that the most crucial thing artists can do to stand out is to have a great relationship with their distributors. “It’s the distributors that send us their list of priorities every week and say, ‘Out of all of the tracks we’re sending this week, these are the ones that we really want your curation team to spend some time on,’ and we do listen to everything on that priority list,” she noted. She added that despite some misconceptions, the platform does not require that artists have a certain social following or level of revenue attached to their music to get placement on the platform.

“It really just is about, ‘Do our curators vibe with the music, and do they think there’s a place for it in their genre?’” Sartory said.

Track tags and IDs are essential to help curators understand what’s working “in the wild.”

“If you’re a DJ and you’re posting clips of an amazing moment in your set, please credit the track and credit the artist, because we’re looking at all that stuff,” Sartory said during this same Beatport presentation. She referenced a statistic that 90% of DJs are not ID-ing their tracks in their social media clips, making, she says, “a real problem for the industry, because we want to be able to track that data.”

She also encouraged managers to push for music recognition technology to in clubs and at festival and for artists to register all their music with CMOs, so everyone gets paid when music is played in a set. Such registration also ensures that “when the music performed in the wild, we know about it,” says Sartory. “All of these data points are super important. It sounds boring, but through this [data] we can really spot exciting things happening, and that’s what we can get behind as a platform.”

Some artists had totally different careers before making it in music — just ask HoneyLuv.

During the conversation, Black Dance Music – A Conversation Across Multiple Generation, Detroit legend DJ Minx, BBC Radio 1 presenter Tiffany Calver, and house producer HoneyLuv, this latter artist referred to herself as “someone who likes to live multiple lives.” Indeed. Before rising through the dance scene, she played college basketball, which was “literally my life until I was 21. But then I suffered my second ACL tear in my knee and was like ‘yeah I can’t keep doing this, or I’m not going to be able to walk.’”

Having seen members of her family serve in law enforcement and the CIA, she then decided she also wanted to be in the CIA. To help get herself there, she enrolled in the navy, “but after the second year I was like’ this is not for me.’ I felt like I wasn’t challenged, and I like to be challenged in life.” During this “depressing time,” her friends suggested she do something in music, so she’d practice DJing in her barracks until 1a.m., then be back on duty at 4.am. That was just three years ago. “Never in a million years,” she said, “did I think I’d be in this position.”

Beyoncé‘s Renaissance “shined the light” on Black house artists.

“I did not appreciate them saying that Beyoncé brought back house music — because girl, where did it go, it’s always been right here,” DJ Minx observed during this same conversation. “That was the one thing that got to me. But I also have to say that we have to think about it from the other perspective, as well. Hundreds of thousands of people saw the Renaissance tour. Those people are now onto us that weren’t before… Let [Beyoncé] shine the light where it wasn’t before, because a lot of people do not know that we’re over here killing it. They didn’t, but they do now.”

The White Lotus theme song is meant to give you anxiety.

In a conversation with The White Lotus theme song composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer, he said the song’s “chaos somehow resonated with [the show’s] characters. This music is not really about Hawaii or anything like that, it’s really more about the chaos these stories are creating and the way the characters behave. They’re like savages. They’re abusive. It’s pretty wild, so the wild side of the music is representing that, and somehow mocking them too.”

He added that all the screaming in the song, by design, contributes to the show’s tension. “That’s something we talked about with [series creator Mike White],” added Tapia de Veer. “He wanted it to feel like something terrible was going to happen by the end of an episode…and even though the music is groovy, it made people anxious in some weird way.”

There are straightforward steps artists can take to gain traction on Spotify.

A panel discussion with several Spotify employees noted that the platform currently has 551 million monthly active users, including 222 million paid subscribers in 184 markets. The team said that artists can help connect with fans on the platform by keeping their artist pages current, citing a 77% traffic bump on these pages when an artist releases new music. But given that 50% of artists customize their artist pages after a release, audiences are often missing key info.

Spotify’s Canvas feature, with which artists can pair an eight-second visual loop to a song, also impacts consumption. The presentation noted that listeners who see a Canvas are 5% more likely keep streaming the song, 145% more likely to share it, 20% more likely to add it to playlists, 1.4% more likely to save the track and 9% more likely to visit an artist’s profile page.

A redesigned events feature is also helping artists make more money through Spotify.

A repositioning of the upcoming events of an artist’s Spotify page has, according to the presentation, given these events sections 70% more views, generating 15% more ticket sales.

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