It's Time for a Rave Promoters Showdown!
An image of Q-dance's European Defqon festival, courtesy Q-dance.
There's a corporate war brewing in dance music, with the two main sides being concert king Live Nation and billion-dollar-plus promoter SFX Entertainment. Over the last year or so both have been gobbling up electronic dance music organizers to the point where most of the biggest raves in the United States are on one side or another.
Los Angeles is America's EDM capital, and our town has largely gone with Live Nation. Hard Events was swallowed up last year by the corporation, and this summer the concert behemoth reportedly took a 50 percent, $50 million slice of America's biggest rave promoter, Insomniac Events. With both based here, you would think this is hostile territory for Robert Sillerman's New York-based SFX Entertainment, which has gobbled up most of Europe's massive ID&T festival company as well as New Orleans-bred Disco Donnie Presents and New York's Made Event, the concern behind Electric Zoo.
But this weekend SFX is invading L.A., so to speak:
The ID&T-affiliated "Sound of Q-dance USA" is coming to the 6,300-capacity Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Exposition Park Saturday. It will bring a banging, up-tempo "hardstyle" of Dutch electronic dance music to L.A. via DJs and acts such as Gunz For Hire, Noisecontrollers and Wildstylez.
That's a pretty small show compared to Insomniac's 100,000-person-a-day, three-day Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas or L.A.'s HARD Summer festival, which sold 70,000 tickets.
But our local promoters might be feeling just a little scared.
First, this is a money loser being put on so that Q-dance (and, we'd assume, ID&T and thus SFX) can get a feel for America's biggest EDM market. Q-dance honcho Rogier Werver admitted as much, telling us:
We are investing a lot of money in this. This is obviously not to make money. We are here to show the American people what we're about to give them -- a little taste of the pie.
Second, ID&T claims to put on the biggest EDM festivals in the world, including Q-dance and other events that range from 30,000- to 70,000-capacity venues and beyond.
"Europe and especially Holland are known as the show production standards for EDM," Werver said. "We've had these events in stadiums of 20,000 and up for 20 years."
Third, Q-dance is promising to bring that European-style, mind-blowing, netherworld stage production to Los Angeles. While events like EDC pride themselves on creating a breathtaking experience for fans (and that they do), the Q-dance folks are promising to take it to a whole 'notha level.
When you compare us to other promoters or event organizers, we tend to create worlds instead of just putting up a big stage with LED screens. In our campaign we want to start with creating a different world, a release from your everyday life. A show is not just the music or the DJs but it also should be the entertainment, the fireworks. You could compare us a little bit to Cirque du Soleil. We're bringing lots of stuff to the Shrine compared to other DJ shows there. We're known for crazy production and massive shows.
Fourth, Q-dance says it's in it for the long haul. Werver:
We're in it for the long run. We're going to start here. We want to see if we can take it to the next level. First we need to plant our seeds and make sure we intro hardstyle to the U.S. crowds.
But Werver says West Coast promoters needn't worry all that much after all. He argues that Q-dance is carving a different niche out of the market with its hardstyle music, which is arguably still somewhat obscure compared to the usual rotation of DJs such as Tiesto, Kaskade, Deadmau5, Avicii and Afrojack seen at stateside fests.
And he thinks the L.A. and American markets can handle more:
I don't think they (West Coast promoters) should be afraid. We're not at war. We just want to bring our own unique piece of the pie. We're different. And America is such a big country. For us it would be impossible to own the market. We just want to bring our product to the United States.
"The Sound of Q-dance USA" happens Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall, 665 W Jefferson Blvd., Exposition Park. 18+. Tickets.
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