‘Most successful musical export product in crisis’

Today the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) starts. But it is by no means the world’s largest club festival, if you compare that to previous years. While the two new directors of the ADE were preparing for the biggest celebration ever. Because this year the electronic music conference is 25 years old.

“In March it became clear that club life, festivals and the Dutch dance sector would have a hard time due to the global covid-19 crisis,” says co-director Jan-Willem van der Ven. “Of the 391 festivals this year, 95 percent was unable to continue. This while various large festival organizers, such as ID&T, receive 80 percent of their income in the summer months. Nightclubs and other locations such as AFAS Live and Ziggodome are also closed.”

Stage for young talents

Electronic music, dance is still by far the most successful musical export product in the Netherlands. It is not only about the world famous DJs, but also management, booking agencies, organizers, promoters, studios, technology, equipment and creativity in the form of festival design and concepts.

Clubs play an important role: they form the breeding ground for Dutch talent. “That will flourish and mature in the clubs”, says Meindert Kennis, who together with van der Ven form the two-man board of ADE.

DJ Mag Top 10

The young talents have nowhere to turn. Every year, great Dutch DJs emerge from that nursery, such as Martin Garrix and Sam Feldt. For seven years in a row, Dutch DJs have made up half of the annual DJ Mag Top 10.

There is also an (export) value attached to this. But also to the many start-ups and other small, specialized companies in the sector. There are many self-employed people working in the sector who do not always receive support from the government because their work is seasonal or because they lack the expertise to apply for funding.

“As a result, it is possible that ‘dance’ loses to more ‘elitist’ art forms, which are subsidized or locations that are allowed to remain open while the venues for dance remain closed,” says Kennis.

Emergency call

Now it costs money to set up large-scale live streams. Festivals such as Awakings, Mysteryland and Tomorrowland, among others, offered live streams for their fans this summer. And also during the ADE, dance lovers can enjoy free streams via ADE Online. Because the entire conference can only be followed online, both for professionals and for ‘visitors’.

Reason for Frank Helmink, director of Buma Cultuur, which is committed to music from the Netherlands, to make an alarming appeal. “Look at the number of people who are now unemployed at home. One conclusion is clear: the electronic music industry needs continuous support to survive this. And I think that support must also come. You cannot and should not be the most successful side. “