Neil Moffitt on American nightlife: ‘it’s not an arms race, it’s evolution’
All eyes have been on Vegas in recent weeks. Between claims that the Las Vegas Strip is the new Playa d’en Bossa, a slew of impressive new residencies at the city’s hottest clubs, and the grand opening of the MGM Grand’s Hakkasan Las Vegas, any fan of nightlife would be hard pressed to ignore what’s going on in the Nevada desert these days.
The New York Times recently sat down to pick the brain of the Angel Management Group’s CEO, Neil Moffitt, who together with the Hakkasan company will be responsible for running the show at Las Vegas’s biggest new club. This is the man that was there from the very beginning, he speaks about his “first foray” into the electronic music market in 2004, when he booked fellow Brit Paul Oakenfold at Ice.
At the time, however, nothing about dance music was nearly as serious as it is in 2013. Moffitt remarks that only in 2007 did things start to pick up for dance music in Vegas:
“Pure became the market leader. There were rumors about $1 million nights, Paris Hilton here, another celebrity there. And they all looked at it and said, “Wow, this business can generate a lot of money.”So nightclub after nightclub started to get built, and over the last six years Las Vegas has invested in bringing a new demographic to this market…”
After that, the rest is history as they say, and if we fast forward to today, Moffitt also has some wise words to share about the state of the clubbing union. Instead of defaulting to mass media’s read as this time in America as an “EDM arms race,” he takes a different read:
It’s an evolution. For years people have been charged a ton of money to go into mediocre buildings with poor facilities and can’t believe they paid that much money to sit next to the toilet. And they leave disenchanted. Las Vegas itself has evolved. We’ve been through the financial crisis, and people are selective about where they spend their money. They don’t want to go to poor venues and eat poor food. Customers expect a certain level of service and environment. Maybe we still haven’t reached the peak.
In his mind, those who see this as anything but evolution of a scene are perhaps just “sour grapes.” When probed about DJs overcharging, Moffitt coolly suggests that increased DJing fees directly correlate with demand (from both competitors and consumers) and it’s wrong to assume that a DJ’s performance can’t possibly be worth as much as say, a rock star. He’s definitely not under the impression that this “bubble” is going to “burst,” but he gives a fair warning to those trying to jump in blind: “for people who jump into this world with limited understanding, whether you’re promoting a rock act or an E.D.M. act, there will be casualties.”