Tumultuous times have fallen upon Ultra‘s flagship Miami edition. Resident efforts and other factors culminated in a “no” vote from the City Commission to renew their five-year license, ending an era that lasted nearly two decades.
But the show must go one, as they say. The behemoth festival brand has set its sights on the nearby Virginia Key, per a dual confirmation from organizers and city officials that negotiations were in the works to move to this location. Currently, plans are to move the iconic three-day dance festival over to the Miami Marine Stadium; however, complications have already arisen due to the fact that the Miami International Boat Show takes place at the same time and venue. Ultra has noted their desire to run the festivals “in tandem” with one another, in two separate areas of the park. They’ve also run into an obstacle with Rapture Festival’s booking on the space, but organizers are fairly confident the smaller, underground-focused event will end up moving locations should their plans come to fruition.
A vote to determine whether or not the move to Virginia Key will be able to take place will be held on November 15.
The event’s new proprietors have settled on bringing the event back to the Faena District, coinciding with the conference partnership with The Faena hotel, for the 34th annual WMC March 25-28 to undoubtedly catalyze another brimming Miami Music Week. The 2019 edition of WMC will embrace a more targeted organizational structure, featuring both an application-only, panel-fueled networking branch of the conference, oriented at working industry professionals, in addition to an informative, publicly accessible portion in which inquiring music connoisseurs can learn more of the ins and outs of the industry’s landscape.
“For decades, the electronic music industry ran through WMC,” said Ultra Co-founder Russell Faibisch in a recent release. “It was where the mega deals were done and provided a launching point for countless legendary tracks as well as breakthrough DJs. In March 2019, WMC returns with a fully revamped program that gets the industry back to business.”
With its new, fully stocked agenda, WMC is primed to serve as an ideal segue into not only Ultra Music Festival, as it always has, but for industry folk and lay-listeners alike to direct efforts towards the continued construction of the electronic empire at large.
Miami Music Week — the largest dance music industry event in America, and the world. In addition to the Winter Music Conference, which takes place that week, a plethora of outside club events dominate the city that culminate into Ultra Music Festival at its end. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the festival, making for an even more energized atmosphere surrounding it.
Its enormous popularity among fans, industry professionals, and artists alike translates to an enormous invasion of the city, and thus an even crazier unfolding of developments. Surge prices for ride share services and taxis are near-unfathomable, drink prices are egregious, and ATM fees are shockingly high. Meanwhile, utter debauchery and chaos mean tense interactions between bouncers and patrons, wedding rings falling off celebrity’s hands, and of course, instances that in the past have included women talking to trees.
We compiled an array of images that captures moments like these, that show a deeper look beneath the glamour of Miami Music Week and Ultra Music Festival.
1. We hope you withdrew cash ahead of time….
Jackmaster discovered ATM fees at the small club Treehouse were set at $36. The fee was so high that he had to document it through Instagram, appropriately quipping, “Some cunt is having a laugh.” Note to self: withdraw copious amounts of cash prior to going out for the night, or else…
2. Same goes for buying alcohol
Either the drink needs to have at least 4 shots, or it’s best to get toasted enough to last the whole event.
3. A test in supply & demand
Not planning on drinking? You’ll at least need water to remain safely hydrated in the warm outdoor weather. Humane ideologies be damned — vendors throughout the week are putting necessity and capitalism to the test by charging upwards of $15 for a bottle of water at each event. Perhaps the hot new liquid to hide in a flask is H2O.
4. Not today, lawsuits!
This venue wasn’t playing around when it came to hosting an Axtone pool party. The question is, what can you bring?
Living up to its promise to “expect the unexpected” in 2018, UMF capped off a lofty Miami Music Week with a number of attention-grabbing acts from dance music’s top tastemakers, including David Guetta, Kaskade, Eric Prydz, and Above & Beyond, along with an illustrious cast of newcomers in REZZ, Jauz, and Virtual Self. The most exalted act of the weekend came in the form of a highly anticipated reunion from Swedish House Mafia, who filled the surprise guest slot to close out the festival. Marshmello made his main stage debut and premiered his newest collaboration with Lil Uzi Vert, The Chainsmokers put the naysayers to bed with their high-energy performance, which included four unreleased tracks and a flaming drum solo, and Sir Carl Cox delivered a high-powered spectacle in his Resistance Megastructure.
Other notable moments came care of DJ Snake, who brought out Tchami, Malaa, and Mercer to debut their new collaboration, “Let’s Get Ill;” Axwell Λ Ingrosso, who opened their set with a captivating new track ID; Tiësto, who invited out his new fiancé, model Annika Backes, to the stage; and Steve Aoki, who assembled Daddy Yankee, Elvis Crespo, and Play-N-Skillz for a live performance of their recent release, “Azukita.”
For those who can’t count themselves lucky enough to have witnessed the live weekend spectacle, DA has compiled a comprehensive list of streams from UMF 2018 to relive the festival’s most magical moments.
Shaq is a man of many talents — namely basketball, but also some more musically inclined. Beginning with his rap career, that has spawned four albums and a beef with erstwhile teammate/nemesis Kobe Bryant, to a burgeoning career as a DJ — never forget: Shaq Diesel played Tomorrowland — the Hall of Famer has no intent to slow down.
As is the wont of high-profile basketball players, Shaq took his talents to South Beach for the 2018 edition of Miami Music Week. There he hosted his own event, which was legitimized by the presence of dance music luminaries such as A-Trak, Diplo, and Steve Aoki, among other notables.
The highlight of the evening, however, was New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s dance moves and subsequent dance-off with Shaq.
The fun-loving football player is seemingly entirely recovered from a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in this year’s Super Bowl, and even showed off some of his impressive athleticism by jumping up onto none other than Shaq’s mountainous shoulders.
While the anticipated return of Swedish House Mafia is sure to dominate the retrospectives coming out of Miami, it’s important not to forget that the combination of Shaq, Gronk, and dance music leads to a divine experience.
Ultra Music Festival announced its acquisition of Winter Music Conference (WMC) during a press conference in Miami on March 21. In addition, Ultra acquired the International Dance Music Awards. The landmark deal was apparently in the works for a while, according to WMC co-founder Bill Kelly, who will retain his position to continue his vision for the conference.
“WMC will allow veterans and newcomers alike to develop themselves and their organizations to become competitive players in the industry,” says UMF Marketing and New Media Manager Albert Berdellans. “We are very excited to contribute to the vision of Miami as a hub of entertainment, culture and business.”
The merger seemed like a natural fit for Kelly and Russell Faibisch, Ultra’s Co-founder, Chairman & CEO, who began the festival as a way to cap off the business side of WMC with a celebration of dance music. During the press conference, Faibisch also commented on the the impact WMC has had on the dance music industry and their combined vision for moving forward.
“For over thirty years, WMC has been integral to Miami’s storied relationship with dance music. The conference was where some of the biggest deals in dance music history were made and we look forward to working with Bill to pair WMC and Ultra into one extravagant Miami Music Week,” says Faibisch.
Ultra’s acquisition comes after its initial success and growth came as a result of its positioning at the end of the Winter Music Conference — a feeder system it soon outgrew. Years of contention began between the once-neighborly events, which was confounded by the newer addition of Miami Music Week as it slowly began to take the focus away from the business aspect of the industry and channeled it more into non-stop parties taking center stage in Miami.
Weeks ago, media outlets began speculating over whether EDM’s longest-standing conference would see a 33rd edition in 2018. The week-long event had been waning attendance in recent years, but WMC announced it would return in the days leading to Ultra Miami.
Kelly said he’s excited about the new business model.
“A couple years ago, we revisited the idea of coming together. At that point the Amsterdam Dance Event and International Music Summit in Ibiza had formed over the course of the last five years or so, but Ibiza is a very small island, it’s very expensive, and it’s not easily available to businesses and fans. Over the years, the significance of WMC slightly diminished because of those, so to bring (attention) back to Miami, this acquisition was necessary.”
Berdellans also announced that UMF would expand into China with Ultra Beijing, June 16-17, 2018, as well as Shanghai, some time in September. Ultra now plays host to 47 festivals in 24 countries across six continents.
Miami Music Week is in full effect, with each day being filled to the brim with a wide array of events to choose from that satisfy any electronic lover’s fancy. However, the choices are so vast, that sometimes making a decision proves an arduous task.
Partying 24/7 is virtually an impossible task, however, and rest is absolutely crucial during any bit of downtime. For most new to the Miami scene or for those who rarely touch down in the city, Dancing Astronaut has enlisted Claptone‘s assistance in picking out spots to check out when craving a bit of relaxation among the chaos. The masked musician has compiled quite the list of places close to his heart, across a broad spectrum of activities.
While perusing the guide, we recommend giving his new single from FANTAST a spin:
“While on the road, I long for new music. I love to get my fingers dusty, sifting through bins and piles of records, always making sure to bring a spare pair of my signature white gloves.
There happens to be quite a funky spot in Miami, a store called Sweat Records. They’ve got loads of albums and singles, and I always leave with at least one brilliant, new discovery.”
“Oh dear! How I love the Crabshack! A family-run and operated eatery with modest design and ambience, serving a variety of crab and seafood dishes, only steps from the beach. How I love to feel the rays of the Miami sun, sitting on the sidewalk terrace. The perfect place for an afternoon with good friends and great food.”
“The Broken Shaker is quite the special space. For some reason, every time that I visit, interesting and peculiar things seem to happen. That is all I’ll say.”
Crusing through Biscayne Bay
“Many of you may, or may not know this – but I have sailed the Seven Seas a plenty. I grew up as a mariner, setting sail and attempting to discover lands still uncharted. These days, my nautical ambitions are much more modest. Whenever I am in Miami, I make sure to spend as much time as possible navigating through Biscayne Bay on my humble vessel.”
“This lesser-known, beautiful, flowing garden was designed as a laboratory for the observation and study of tropical plants in Miami. I often find myself wandering through their grounds, with my portable field-recorder in hand, registering the many organic sounds that can be heard, to later incorporate in my original productions. I cloak the call of birds and the rustling of the leaves in mystery, altering their tonality and timbre to the point of being unrecognisable, but still so special to me. The garden of inspiration.”
Guaguanco in Little Havana
“Six years ago, while strolling through Little Havana, I somehow found myself in a Cuban community centre for the arts. It was on this day that I had my first Guanguanco dance lesson with my very kind and astonishingly limber, sixty-seven year-old instructor, Griselda. Although it has been quite some time since my last lesson, I can still feel the rhythm and pulse that makes Cuban music so special. My experiences there led me to incorporate some Spanish-speaking lyrics on my upcoming album, Fantast. The ninth track, entitled La Esperanza, with it’s chorus sung in Spanish, forever reminding me of Griselda’s patience.”
“Most of the DJs have some free time in January and February, and that results in new music,” Hardwell said when asked if he would debut unreleased material in Ultra tradition during his headlining set. “I made lots of new music and I’m going to play [it] on Friday,” Hardwell added.
And like many ticket holders, Hardwell is holding out for an SHM reunion. “I think it’s going to happen,” Hardwell stated in response to the question as to whether he believed the Swedish super group would indeed appear at Ultra 20. “There are a lot of rumors, the deciding factor for me was that Steve Angello, one of the three members of SHM, cancelled his Asia tour out of the blue, suddenly doesn’t have any shows planned, and is now in Miami. For me, this means that it has to happen.”
Those attending Miami Music Week can peruse the best parties of the biggest week in electronic music as curated by Dancing Astronaut, here.
In recent weeks, EDM enormity, DJ Snake, has dropped some not-so-subtle hints on social media surrounding “big news.” Now, amid the always momentous Miami Music Week, “You Know You Like It” and “Lean On” producer has taken to Twitter to announce the inception of his very own record label, Premiere Classe Records.
As stated in his tweet, Snake intends to use this new platform to “shine a light” on the “next generation of artists.” Premiere Classe’s first release will be “Whistle” by 4B and TEEZ, which is available for Spotify pre-save here.
Premiere Classe’s first release, “Whistle” by 4B and TEEZ, is out now. The two New Jersey producers have crafted a high-octane, party-ready number that serves as a stellar kickoff to the label releases.
“This record label is for people across all corners of the world, to showcase all genres of music,” DJ Snake says of Premiere Classe. “I grew up influenced by different cultures, sounds, feelings, emotions and I want Premiere Classe to be a representation of that.”