Beyond EDM: What All Artists Can Learn From IMS Engage

On Wed, April 17th, several members of the Bandsintown team joined a gathering crowd of music industry vets for IMS Engage, the first U.S. edition of the Ibiza-based IMS conference at the W Hotel in Hollywood.  Intentionally open in format, the conference featured a series of long-form conversations that paired an electronic music industry leader and, in the words of conference partner Ben Turner, “someone from the outside world.” Among them: Diplo in conversation with Kevin Systrom (Founder, Instagram), Ultra’s Patrick Moxey spoke with Russell Simmons and Skrillex sat down with Jeff Rosenthal (Co-founder, Summit Series). 

While the Summit was undoubtedly focused on electronic music, we identified several takeaways applicable to all artists, regardless of music genre: 

1. Invest in yourself/your art: While discussing the trajectory of his career, Skrillex stated just three years ago he was $30,000 in debt, but choose to spend all of his earnings on production for his first tour. Fast forward to today, Forbes claims he earned upward of $15M in 2012.

2. Mainstream success does not mean the death of underground music or culture: “The bigger the overground becomes, the bigger the underground becomes.” Amy Thomson (Manager, Swedish House Mafia.)

3. As a touring artist, focus on cultivating your fan base in various markets:  Commenting on Lady Gaga’s success on the road, manager Troy Carter advised not to be touch and go saying, “It’s not just about the show, but about experiencing and connecting with the market.”

4. The future is cross-genre and post-medium: “The biggest DJ’s these days are the ones playing everything … I’m seeing a breakdown of genres,” observed Diplo.  Taking this a step further, Russell Simmons spoke of his new YouTube Channel, All Def Digital, which enables artists to cross mediums from music to comedy and even scripted shows.

5. Using social media to its fullest = creating sustainable community: “Build a community who reference one another, and can share a common conversation,” said Systrom. This echoed Diplo’s sentiment that a big community is more valuable than a single big hit when it comes to longevity in the music industry.

6. Listen to Uncle Rush: An entire post, if not a book, could be dedicated to Russell Simmons wise words in conversation with Patrick Moxey.  Below are a few we found particularly poignant:

  • "Your work is your prayer, your meditation, the results of the work is the cycle of giving and getting … Good givers are great getters, but those that give without expectation are the best getters."
  • "Success is just a reminder that you are making people happy. Remember, no matter how many chairs you have, you can only sit in one at a time."
  • "Rest in perfection. Operate from a place of abundance, because you have every f_cking thing you need."

The full interview is available here  

Catch us next month on the conference circuit at the Music Biz Event in Los Angeles where we will be moderating a panel with Artist Growth, Aderra, Live Nation and The Collective. Also, our CEO is attending IMS in Ibiza May 22-24 so let us know if you’d like to connect!

- Bandsintown Team