Show me the Vegas money: Festivals “competing with casinos”

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As inthemix discovered on our recent trip to Paradise, Nevada, for Electric Daisy Carnival, dance music is big business in Las Vegas. Seasoned money-spinners like Celine Dion, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil are now sharing billboard space with names like Deadmau5AfrojackTiestoand Dash Berlin. With this new star status comes pay-cheques to match. In In a recent Rolling Stonecover feature on Deadmau5, casino mogul Steve Wynn hints that the producer’s Vegas fee is “more than Sinatra at his peak”. All week, Wynn Casino’s four nightclubs – XS, Surrender, Tryst, and Encore Beach Club – go up against Marquee Nightclub, TAO, LAVO Nightclub and the rest, each with its cadre of big-name residents. According to a recent report by New York Post, a ‘source’ estimates that Wynn spent $25 million on the year’s DJ line-ups.

Far from being its own microcosm, though, Vegas is said to be changing the wider dance music landscape. This week, inthemix is on ground at Amsterdam Dance Event, where the ‘EDM’ boom in America is already a recurring talking point. ITM’s Angus Paterson attended Wednesday’s forum,The World According To Armin van Buuren, which brought together Armin with fellow Dutchman Duncan Stutterheim, co-founder and CEO of ID&T. Responsible for iconic festivals like Mysteryland and Tomorrowland, as well as the global Sensation parties, ID&T is a powerhouse. Despite the company’s standing, Stutterheim spoke up about how the politics of Las Vegas clubbing reach further, with the clubs basically in a position to offer their DJ residents a blank cheque.

“What’s happening now is that the agents are being total pricks,” Stutterheim said. “They are coming to us and saying, our DJs are being paid paying $250,000 for a night. This is the kind of money they are asking for, and then at the same time, we have events like Mysteryland and Tomorrowland, where we’re also looking to book these acts. So we’re competing now with casinos.” The comment was greeted with laughter from the audience. “And if you don’t book these DJs, our audience is asking us, ‘Hey, how come you’re not booking these big names?’. And they’re blaming us. They’re blaming the promoters who are putting on the events.”

A similar topic emerged on the Australian panel at Ibiza’s International Music Summit this year, which was moderated by inthemix. Matt Nugent from Onelove Recordings raised the trickle-down effect on Australian club tours. “We talk about festival pricing being too much, but you can’t tour decent big DJs through clubs any more,” Nugent said. “With America coming on-board, to offer someone $3,000 a show plus flights when they could get $20,000 a show, well, they’re not going to come. I think the club has become the unintended victim of this.”

ITM is at Amsterdam Dance Event until Sunday, so stay tuned for more news from the panels and showcases.