Pete Tong and Rob Light talk shop at EDM Biz
The final day of the EDM Biz conference was defined by two powerful keynote discussions from the estimable Pete Tong and CAA Managing Partner Rob Light, both of whom waxed philosophical about the growth of the dance music industry, it’s impact on popular culture and the industry’s potential over the course of the next decade. The subject of the “EDM bubble” played an integral role in much of the conference’s discussions but both Pete Tong’s and Rob Light’s insights were the most relevant of the lot, touching on dance music’s late 90’s revival and the counter culture movement of the 1960s.
As managing partner at one of the most powerful agencies on the planet, Rob Light expressed the importance of electronic music’s presence in the future of CAA’s business plan, acknowledging that his team believes that EDM is not a fad, but rather an integral part of their future business offerings. A dedicated music lover, Light believes that fostering new talent is the key to the industry’s success noting that it is about “finding the right people and giving them the right support.” Comparing EDM’s current growth as the same generational cataclysmic shift that occurred during the late 1960’s, he believes that dance music’s trajectory is not at all similar to hip hop’s lifecycle, citing that this industry is more in line with the hippie movements of yesteryear. “You’re doing ecstasy, we were doing acid. It’s one generation telling the older generation to go f*ck themselves” Light reflected, “The Beatles, The Who, 100s of incredible bands and artists emerged from this generational shift and the EDM movement is this generation’s counter-culture.”
Both honest and pragmatic, Light also pointed out EDM’s possible stumbling blocks, turning his attention to the industry’s trend towards maintaining a status quo. “If 2 years from today you are all here and the festival goes on and it’s the same six headliners then we are all in trouble. Not to say that they aren’t brilliant or fantastically talented but the scene needs to grow if it is to succeed.”
BBC Radio 1 cornerstone and dance music legend Pete Tong’s key note soon followed and the visionary MC of dance music’s most coveted radio show reflected much of Light’s excitement and concern. Referencing the temporary US adoption of dance music in the late 90s, Pete urged the industry to not make the same mistakes twice; “We’ve got the experience now, maybe we won’t f*ck it up this time.” he reflected. Always a champion of new music, Pete’s primary concern is that new and talented artists do not get overshadowed by the marquee players in the industry and has dedicated his latest project, Evolution Radio in the US, to promoting the growth of dance music in it’s purest form. Pete pointed out that American radio has always suffered from being overly curated, resulting in the same ten tracks being played on loop on most of the largest US radio stations. His goal for Evolution Radio is to avoid that over-curation, “it’s about creating a commercial funnel, making sure the new guys get heard.”
By drawing listeners in with the biggest and best in dance music today, Pete plans to use the mainstream attention to showcase artists on the cutting edge of the genre; “We’ve got to put music in Evolution that people don’t know, otherwise there isn’t any point in doing it.” Tong suggested before urging budding producers to create music that they want to hear. “We need places to champion creativity. Be original, don’t try to be the next something, otherwise it’s bullsh*t. Make a record to first and foremost please yourself. Make music that you like and there is the chance that other people will too.”