9 things we learned from a conference call with Pasquale Rotella
Insomniac operates the behemoth that is Electric Daisy Carnival, as well its satellite stops, during the prime summer/festival months. But when summer ends and fall arrives, the event organizers have an equally heavy load to handle with its reign of the West Coast. Insomniac has a stranglehold on the California market and accommodates its event-happy attendees past the usual festival fare with Nocturnal Wonderland, Beyond Wonderland, and Escape All Hallow’s Eve (formally Escape Wonderland).
Amidst preparations for festival season round 2, Pasquale Rotella hopped on a conference call with a handful of media outlets — Dancing Astronaut was on the line to hear what the EDM power player had going on during his busiest days. Pasquale touched upon common topics and concerns in the event space, elaborated on others due for emphasis, a revealed some lesser-known details of his operations and more.
Take away some new, or improved, lessons with these 9 messages from Pasquale Rotella himself.
1. Opposing festival organizers are more teammates than competitors
On the general importance and greater implications of a safe return of Electric Zoo:
“It’s very important. We’re all in this together. A lot of event producers like to act as if we’re so separated, but we’re all in this together. If something goes wrong, it affects all of us. We’ve offered our services to people that the public thinks are competitors, and we’ve actually been turned down before. We do feel we’re the best and the most experienced when it comes to safety, and we care about people that go to these events.
We’re all about everyone’s events being safe and being as good as they can be. The better their events are, the more people buzz about events in general and want to go out more. So, we’re supportive and we want to help however we can.”
2. Fans play a role in artist bookings for Insomniac’s festivals
On putting together lineups and choosing artists:
“It’s a combination of things. Definitely within the Insomniac office, there are people who have their favorite artists that we pursue. There are agents and managers that we have relationships with that propose different artists to play at the festivals and we take a listen; if we like them, we’ll put them on. And then, there’s the fans, which we listen to; we keep our ear to the street. We also put out these surveys where people can vote on who their favorite DJ might be or producer might be, and we definitely refer to those as well. So, it’s a combination of those three things usually.”
3. ‘Baby Raves’ are a real thing
On event age limits:
“The only all-age event I’ve ever considered is I recently had a baby girl, and I’ve seen that some people have done some daytime baby dance music kind of nursery parties, and I’ve considered doing that because I think that would be fun to do. But no, I haven’t thought about adding any all-age festivals aside from just like—they call them baby raves. If you do a search for it, it’s pretty cool.”
4. Insomniac will eventually build their own venues
On future impacts to be made for dance music culture:
“Right now, I’m using venues that are built for racing cars or sporting events, and I want to eventually do something where there’s a venue built for what we do. So, that’s definitely on the agenda, and there are tons of ideas, I could go on forever about it, but first, the core of what we do is making sure the experience is great, and there are still challenges.”
5. Festivals can’t be compared to concerts
On the make-up of the experience:
“It’s not a concert, and I say that a lot. A concert you go, you find your seat, you sit and you wait to get entertained. And it’s really dependent on that one performance, and sometimes those concerts are only about one act playing for the duration of the entire event. Some of these guys are only playing an hour, at the most two hours, and the event is twelve hours and two, sometimes three days long. So, they’re very important, and they’re part of it, but so is everything else, the production, the art, everything. So, that’s why the experience is important and music is part of that.”
6. ‘It’s not about a rock star’
On who the “headliners” are:
“Dancing, how important is dancing? I don’t even think the big DJs like it when people just stand there with their phones out. That’s something that comes from back in the day. You don’t have to dance with a girl or with a guy. You can dance alone, and you can dance in circles. You don’t have to face the stage. It’s about the music. It’s not about a rock star. All that stuff really comes from loving it and from having good times by ourselves on the dance floor.”
7. Expect innovative partnerships to become more critical in the festival experience
On continuing partnerships like Snapchat’s EDC Live:
“We’re considering a whole bunch. I can’t say who because we want to try to close those deals. We also turn down proposals from people because, I want it to be done in a cool way. I talked about earlier how I want to enhance the experience and I want to do all these things to make it special and unique. Sometimes it’s hard because of budget limitations, and when you get sponsors involved, they help you do things that you could have never done before. We never want to just slap someone’s logo on a flier or a banner. We want them to do in-kind type sponsorships where they help enhance the experience.”
8. Insomniac won’t ditch traditional rave culture
On company’s ideology on rave culture:
“It’s not like a strategic plan as much as it’s just where I come from and it’s what I know. I’m a fan of the culture, and in the company, we have a lot of people that were from a part of the culture since they were very young. We love anything that’s positive, whether it be encouraging the fans to dress up, dressing up the venue, allowing people to trade beads, or encouraging people to meet one another. It’s all positive stuff, and we don’t want that to be lost.”
9. Overlap of HARD Day Of The Dead and Escape All Hallow’s Eve won’t matter
On if HARD DOTD will rival Escape during Halloween weekend:
“Hard Events are actually part of the Insomniac family. So, we thought it would be okay. In past years, we weren’t part of the same family, and of course we successfully existed, so we just continued what we normally did. Halloween doesn’t fall on the weekend every year so it’s not going to be an ongoing thing. In the past, we’ve done one weekend, they’ve done the other weekend. There’s enough people in Southern California to go around. I think that both of us will have success.”