Electronic Dance Music (EDM) seems to have outgrown even the mega-clubs of Las Vegas and is now an arena and soon to be stadium deal. Clubs can provide table service, the real estate for big spenders and social interactions but there is nothing like sharing a moment and energy of tens of thousands of people.
Sensation – an arena EDM show – will be the Barclay Center in Brooklyn NYC this Saturday, October 26th for their ‘Ocean of White’ experience. Will local clubs feel the impact of this event? Will the time be upon us when arenas and stadiums become serious competition? The total club experience will stave off this possible threat?
The other way to think of it is that EDM is becoming so popular that these shows increase the devotion of the ever expanding market and is growing exponentially. With a number of large clubs like Sankys and Space due to hit the NYC scene it may be that this expansion is the tip of the iceberg and that there are plenty of patrons to go around.
We caught up with Co-Founder and CEO of ID&T (which owns Sensation), Duncan Stutterheim to discuss the success of these area events.
Nightclub & Bar (NCB): EDM which has been defined as festival music or club music is now getting traction in arenas. Tell me about the dance parties in places with fixed seats.
Duncan Stutterheim: The main challenge with Arena events is to transform the venue setting into an atmosphere that is in line with the vibe that any show tries to create. For Sensation this meant that in the early years we succeeded in converting a football stadium into a club using oversized decorative objects displayed throughout the space, later when we started showing in larger arenas, we made a transition to a center stage to ensure that all attendees were able to get the same 360 visual experience no matter where they were seated. Throughout the years innovation has been at the heart of each Sensation show and what began with decoration, stage positioning has developed into a show theme development, encouraging more crowd-participation and setting the standard for music at shows of this scope.
NCB: How big is Arena EDM show going to get?
Stutterheim: Sensation has been around since 2000, and has always been held in large stadiums. The upcoming New York show is our 100th stadium show worldwide showing the overall breadth and popularity globally for arena shows. Our guests choose to come to our events because they want to enjoy and experience a great night out with their friends while being blown away by exhilarating visual experiences combined with theatrics and great music. Music culture is changing, dance music has become more popular in the states because it is now more globally accessible, this is very different than when we started out in the 90's, nowadays dance music reaches a wider audience. Therefore it’s only natural that this market is growing. This has also given a way for artists are to break through in their own right.
NCB: Are there individual EDM acts that can sell out stadiums?
Stutterheim: Yes, there are individual acts that can sell out stadiums this is no different to rock, pop and hip hop artists. Sensation sold out two shows last October in the Barclays Center.
NCB: How is sound different in Barclays for this as opposed to a traditional band?
Stutterheim: Our shows are center stage based so the sound is in the round as opposed to a rock set-up (end stage). In the round sound set-up creates the ultimate environment for bringing the highest quality sound to the audience, as the sound is evenly distributed throughout the venue.
NCB: Tell me about this show; the different styles of the talent and what is driving sales.
Stutterheim: With “The Ocean of White” theme the arena is transformed where attendees wear all-white and experience an evening of heart pumping visual theatrics including 200 different types of pyrotechnical effects, water fountains, oversized LED lit jellyfish suspended from the air, sea inspired acrobatic performances and light exhibitions all synchronized to the pulsating sound of the world’s best electronic music. Acrobats shoot from the ceiling as the DJs guide the crowd through uncharted waters of mesmerizing grooves and melodies.
In terms of music sound, Sensation shows offer a logical progression in BPM's throughout the night. We start off with house, then cross over into tech house, tribal house building up to the EDM sound. All of these transitions are aligned with the visual effects.
The artists for the Brooklyn show are: MR White, Nic Fanciulli, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Fedde le Grand, MC Gee.
NCB: Is DJ still an appropriate term or have we outgrown it
Stutterheim: In Europe we refer to DJs as artists. An artist is a DJ that produces his own tracks. For Sensation we only work with artists.
NCB: Is there revenue streams from t-shirts and CDs? What else is sold?
Stutterheim: Yes, Sensation has a merchandise line that also includes CD's, an online magazine and an android and iphone app streaming Sensation radio.
NCB: Clubs and festivals have had some trouble, sometimes with drug use at EDM shows. What steps are you taking to help prevent what happened this summer at Electric Zoo?
Stutterheim: Sensation has a very strict zero-tolerance policy towards drug use. The use of drugs is forbidden at all of our shows.
- Sensation is 21+ which leads to less of a risk of drug related issues.
- We frisk all attendees before entry at all of our venues.
NCB: One would assume that costs are relatively low for an EDM. Is this the case?
Stutterheim: We are unable to share financials, however the scope of our production is very different to rock or pop set-ups below a summary of what it takes to set-up Sensation "The Ocean of White" in the Barclays Center. Sensation also sends its entire production team from Amsterdam to each show.
The load in = 2 full days
The show build = 2 full days
The load out = 1 full day
The following is used to set up the show:
14 trailers equipment staging and decoration
120 moving heads
436 bulbs 300 watt each
12 jelly fishes
108 sound cabinets
90 electronic motor hoists
8 computer controlled motors
50 crew members flown in for Sensation from Amsterdam
120 local crew members
500 meters of trussing
1 mile of cabling
22 computer controlled water fountains
8000 Gallon's of water.
Over 200 different pyro effects.