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Gary Richards, Simon Rust Lamb and Jason Strauss sit down for industry talk

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In celebration of the first ever electronic dance music course added as a course option at the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles school invited some of dance music’s most important business pioneers for a panel and night of discussion. Gary Richards, creator and mind behind HARD Presents, COO of Insomniac Simon Rust Lamb and TAO and Marquee owner and Las Vegas connoisseur Jason Strauss sat down with an intimate crowd and delved into their individual histories and developments of each of their own innovative brands.

Gary Richards, also known as Destructo, revisited his early underground days of K-RaveAmerica in 1992 and spoke of his push for HARD Presents to provide a distinctively different experience than that of friendly competitors like Insomniac. Richards comes from a strong musical background: a musical family, experience on the recording side of the business and his own work as an artist. As he explained his vision for HARD’s events, his determination to stay true to the music shone through his work ethic. He explained that though others choose to focus on the visuals and outside experience, he focuses his budget on supplying the talent and allows his artists to bring their own show to the stage. As for the future of his events, he explains he’s looking into expanding HARD’s Holy Ship! cruise festival, hinted at his own g-house (“gangsta rap” and electronic, as he put it) productions, and pointed to the haunted house themed main stage for the upcoming HARD Day of the Dead Halloween celebration.

COO of Insomniac, Simon Rust Lamb explained his history and beginning roots of how he came to work with CEO Pasquale Rotella. Lamb touched on the controversy that surrounds dance music, alluding to the LA Times’ portrayal of dance music culture and specifically Rotella and his recently cleared indictments. When asked about Insomniac’s recent announcement to be absorbed into the Live Nation world, Lamb explained that Insomniac’s business mentality is focused on the fan experience for the music rather than gaining profit. To illustrate, he pointed out that EDC London’s venue (Olympic Park) would have not been so easily accessible without the help of Live Nation, and also hinted that Insomniac will be searching for opportunities to continue expanding internationally.

Lastly, co-owner and co-founder of the TAO and Marquee series in Las Vegas (and worldwide) provided insight on the culture of Las Vegas. He delved into the dance music phenomenon of the city and its nightclub scene and tackled the lingering question of Vegas or Ibiza, acknowledging that they are both unique experiences, Strauss noted that the dance music culture is one of the most educated and responsive fan bases Las Vegas has experienced, which explains why trends and talents flow so quickly throughout his nightclub scene. He also said there will be a large announcement of expansion coming from his Asia branches in the coming months.

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