Report: The most commonly used drugs at music festivals

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Over the years, drug and alcohol’s relationship with electronic dance music has heightened its foothold in worldwide festival culture. Music festivals themselves undeniably afford a collective culture of intoxication — a palpable permeation of substance use and abuse that one can sniff out regardless of whether they choose to partake or not. Considering substance abuse’s assimilation, one may find themselves wondering just how deeply drugs and alcohol are intertwined with the modern festival landscape. Is substance abuse worse than it seems, and how is the industry taking responsibility for its needed conversations about these substances and their abuse?

In an effort to gain a better understanding of the how the industry is working through its deeply embedded substance use and abuse, it’s helpful to first try and understand the roles different substances play at festivals. To do so, TickPick — an ever-growing ticketing marketplace — surveyed 1,000 attendees of well-known music festivals about their own intoxicating experiences. Their participants ranged in age from 18 to 74, with a mean of 32.4. In the end, their results revealed not only the common types of drugs at festivals and which events are associated with which substances, but a general synopsis as to what the landscape of American consumption looks like in 2018 and beyond.

Overall substance use at festivals

More than three-quarters of participants reported consuming alcohol while attending a festival, which is roughly double the percentage of participants who had consumed any other substance and almost more than twice the rate of those who consumed marijuana.

Though more than a third of respondents reported smoking marijuana at a festival, a smaller, yet still significant portion of people reported using harder drugs. Thirteen percent of respondents reported using MDMA in some form, with hallucinogens’ use clocking just below at roughly eight percent apiece.

Substances use per ticket type

There remains some debate about the optimal festival experience: dance it up with the raucous crowd, or keep things refined with VIP privileges? Whichever route one takes, TickPick’s data suggests a slightly boozier vibe outside the VIP area. Generally, it suggests that a larger portion of general admission attendees consume alcohol, which may come to a surprise to those in VIP, with the complimentary alcohol some of the VIP experiences entail.

On the other side of the spectrum, the data found that VIP attendees generally were more likely to do a range of drugs than those in general admission. Between marijuana, MDMA, cocaine, and hallucinogens, VIP pass-holders were substantially more willing to indulge than the average festival-goer. A possible explanation for this trend is financial limitations. As VIP experiences can cost upwards of thousands of dollars, one can imagine these individuals can succumb to the use of any substance at their disposal.

Greatest substance prevalence per festival

Though alcohol was the leading substance at all festivals, TickPick’s data brings about some interesting findings on other substances. One might expect Coachella would have the highest rate of marijuana-smoking in the cannabis-friendly state of California, but the data aligns quite well with the bans of the substance on the grounds, despite the state’s recent legalization of weed for recreational use. EDC and Ultra each had high rates of MDMA and cocaine consumption, and ultimately, Burning Man had some of the highest rates of overall drug use around. Perhaps this significant rate of consumption can be pinned on the festival’s “gift economy,” where food, supplies, and even drugs are shared openly as a means of “payment.”

Top festivals for each substance

Ultimately, the final data lends itself to some idea of each respective festival’s consumption demographic. SXSW, for instance, led in rates of alcohol consumption. While cocaine use was the highest amongst Ultra attendees, a finding that may result from a mix of EDM culture and the festival’s deep historical roots for the drug and a recent resurgence in Miami’s cocaine trafficking.

While geographical differences may explain some findings, it is a bit difficult to understand why Alabama’s Hangout Music Festival led others in DMT use, as just one example. EDC was another consumption leader across the different categories, also ranking in the top three for a number of substances. This point ties into the festival’s battle with health and safety concerns with drug use in the past, including more than 1,000 attendees needing medical treatment in 2017. Though there are issues and ambiguity within the self-reported data like TickPick used for this study— including,  but not limited to, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration — these results do shine a light on the landscape of American substance use, nonetheless. Here’s to hoping some of these findings diminish the blind eye to EDM’s drug abuse, increases awareness, and implements further safety precautions down the line.

Via: TickPick 
Featured Image: Courtesy of Goldenvoice

Hardwell talks performance prep, Tomorrowland, and his plans for 2018 [Q&A]

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At this point, Hardwell is virtually a household name. With millions of fans and no shortage of global airtime, the producer has leveraged his niche in this industry into a full fledged cult of personality. From his flagship charity concert to his United Nations initiatives to his perfume line (seriously), the producer does it all.

The superstar also, of course, finds time to make music.

At the end of any given festival weekend, the king of bigroom is always among the conversation of the top performances — he has long been known to melt the mainstage crowd with his unbelievably high energy sets that keep hands up high for hours. Loaded with some of the most massive IDs of the summer and edits that have fans’ mouths agape in awe, Hardwell’s performances seem to somehow take it up a notch each and every year.

Considering the producer’s unique status as a festival mainstay and EDM icon, we spoke with Hardwell about how he preps and what’s up next.

 


 

Your festival sets are always one of the most highly anticipated events of the EDM calendar year. How do you go about your preparation for these big shows and determining your tracklists?

The biggest struggle for me is to finish up the collabs and solo tracks just in time. I’m always changing up my intro so I have to prepare that as well and come up with new edits and mashups. I prepare these sets for months in advance.

You are finally returning to Tomorrowland this year after a few years of not playing. How did that come about and did your reunion with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike play any sort of role in your comeback?

Tomorrowland didn’t book me for a couple years after the small Twitter thing. We’re all good though and I’m really excited to be back at Tomorrowland. I also have that collab now with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. There’s no name for the song though and it’s not even finished yet, we just premiered it at their show.

Since last summer you dropped 3 EPs, what are your plans for 2018? Are you looking to make a follow up album or to just continue to release more EPs and singles?

I’m not really into an album anymore. I don’t think it’s really relevant for an EDM artists to actually release an album but today during my set you can expect a couple of songs from the Hardwell & Friends EP, Vol. 4. Some great collabs and not even with upcoming guys but bigger guys plus a couple of solo tracks and the new intro obviously. I’m really proud of my closing track too, which is a new hardstyle collab with Wildstylez.

Who is one person that you would love to collab with this year that you haven’t in the past?

If I had to pick one person, my dream collab would definitely be Pharrell Williams. I admire him as a producer, as a person and as a singer/songwriter. Everything he does, I am just a really big fan of him.

How do you feel about the current EDM and pop crossover that’s happening with artists like Zedd and The Chainsmokers? Do you think it’s here to last?

With EDM, it’s getting bigger and bigger. Don’t forget that dance music was an underground movement. People always say that dance music became mainstream but it’s the other way around. The mainstream got more into dance music so it was just a matter of time before the pop culture influenced dance music and the other way around. I like it though, it creates diversity and makes it more accessible for everybody, which makes dance music more interesting. If you’re a young kid and hear a dance record on the radio, it could automatically get you into techno and that’s great for dance music. As long as there is a proper underground and a proper mainstream, they will both benefit from each other.

We know you had a massive collab with Martin Garrix that had the entire world talking. Is that officially scrapped and do you have plans to work on something in the future?

It’s always great to collaborate with an artist like Martin, he’s a fellow Dutchman and we always have great fun bouncing ideas off each other – I don’t wanna say it’s scrapped as it may see the light of day yet. You know, we’re both very busy touring with shows non-stop and our own labels but we have a lot of creative fun together. We for sure hope to have something out in the future.

Who are some of your favorite upcoming producers at the moment?

SWACQ is a really cool producer from France, I played an ID of his in my ULTRA Miami set so I wonder if anyone can spot it! Harrison is a UK vocalist that I’ve also worked with before on my United We Are album and he’s producing his own music now with a future-bass kinda sound, different for him but it works – we also have a new track ‘Earthquake’ dropping together soon. Trobi is also a super-new artist who I’ve got some exciting music from in my inbox, a really fresh sound and It would be amazing to release something from him on my label Revealed, who knows!

Hardwell’s Ultra 20 set get the ‘drops only’ treatment [Watch]

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Those who want to bypass builds and just enjoy a series of nonstop drops can now seamlessly do so via a “drops only” oriented reboot of Hardwell’s Ultra 20 set.

An amalgamation of Hardwell’s early electronic classics and new IDs alike, Hardwell’s original Ultra 20 set generates a near palpable anticipation leading up to each drop, but when removed, the builds give way to a high powered procession of the EDM titan’s thunderous descents.

H/T: EDM Sauce

Slushii delivers heavy-handed seven-track ‘Find Your Wings’ EP following massive Ultra 2018 performance

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Slushii rukes

It’s been an exciting journey thus far for Slushii. The emerging young beatmaker, born Julian Scanlan, has deservedly settled in as one of the industry’s most lauded new talents after a meteoric breakthrough campaign over the last year and a half. Coming off the heels of a brilliant return to Ultra performing at the Worldwide Stage, Slushii is keeping the momentum high, following up with the release of his brand new Find Your Wings EP.

Blending bass-heavy and euphoric, upbeat melodies with a hint of 8-bit inspiration, plus the use of his own vocals, Slushii has proven to be a force behind the console, showcasing his versilitity on the new collection. Speaking on the new EP, Slushii told Dancing Astronaut, 

“This EP was really a culmination of what I grew up listening to mixed with some of the craziest sound design I think I’ve ever done. Super stoked for peeps to hear it.”

The EP is seven tracks of headbanger-approved dubstep from front to back, culminating on tracks like “Bounce,” a menacing “Fired Up,” and the EP’s lead single “Where I’m At.”  Ultra proved to be a perfect testing ground for Slushii’s new solo products, and between his recent outing in Miami and his debut LP last year, Out of LightSlushii’s upward trajectory seems to be as steep as ever.

The new independent EP, released March 30, is available now on all digital streaming platforms. Showing off his versitile hand in the studio and an ear for heavier sonics than we’re used to from him, enjoy Slushii’s dabble in dubstep on Find Your Wings. 

 Featured Image: Rukes

Alan Walker plays Spotify ad during Main Stage Ultra set [Watch]

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Alan-Walker

Spotify ad breaks seem always to arrive at inconvenient times: prior to the listener’s favorite song in the music streaming service’s queue, or in Alan Walker’s case, during a Main Stage set at Ultra Music Festival.

Walker appeared to have been using the ad supported free version of Spotify during his March 24 set at Ultra 20, but fans can rest assured that the set’s inclusion of the Spotify ad was both intentional and in jest. “That was a specific edit that Alan had prepared,” said a spokesperson for Walker, “it was meant to be a funny and sarcastic poke at people who say DJs just press ‘play.’”

Viewers of Walker’s March 24 set at Ultra 20 can skip ahead to the 5:40 mark to watch Walker effectively build crowd anticipation for an ensuing and thunderous drop, only to troll the crowd via a soundbite of “Johnathan” from Spotify’s voice at the point of the track’s drop (6:12). Close watchers will note that the lighting and stage effects remain in sync with the soundbite, further solidifying the the clip’s intentional angle.

Is Tomorrowland cryptically teasing a Swedish House Mafia performance?

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Dancing-Astronaut-Swedish-House-Mafia-Tomorrowland-2013

For months, Ultra Music Festival had been saying “expect the unexpected” leading up to its 20th anniversary celebration. While many believed the phrase to mean Daft Punk was planning a return to the festival circuit, viral rumors all but confirmed a Swedish House Mafia reunion. After all, the iconic Swedish trio hadn’t performed together since their One Last Tour in 2013, with Steve Angello stating to HuffPost, “I just wasn’t having fun anymore. It was this humongous monster. We felt…tired.”

In addition to premiering three unreleased songs at Ultra 20, Axwell concluded their set by saying, “We are Swedish House Mafia for life this time.” Steve Angello’s talent manager, Scooter Braun, then took to his Instagram story following the set, and hinted, essentially confirming that Sunday’s SHM reunion was “the beginning” of something much larger.

I think it’s more or less confirmed that this was not a one time thing

Fans immediately began speculating over whether an arena world tour was in the works, or a possible summer festival run, despite the fact that most large festival bookings have been finalized for the 2018 season.

Following the SMH reunion at Ultra Miami last weekend, Tomorrowland may have further fueled fan hopes when they posted an image of the Belgian festival’s main stage on Twitter with the caption, “expect the unexpected.” The tagline is the exact same phrase that Ultra used when announcing the “secret guest” slot for it’s 20th edition.

Nothing has been confirmed, and the tweet has since been deleted, but the coin of phrase has sparked controversy that another secret guest appearance by SHM may be in the programming for Tomorrowland’s 2018 edition, “The Story Of Planaxis.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 11.31.54 AM

H/T: EDMTunes.

Soundtrack to Ultra 20

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Ultra-2018-mainstage-aLIVE-Coverage

Ultra celebrated a monumental twentieth anniversary this past weekend. Organizers wrapped UMF’s birthday with several landmark wins — its acquisition of Winter Music Conference, a Swedish House Mafia reunion, and a long-fought promise to return to their beloved venue at Miami’s Bayfront Park.

Along with the weekend came a bevy of top industry taste maskers spotlighting the upcoming year’s most popular dance floor anthems in their sets.  Over the weekend, 1001tracklists.com compiled a list of the Top Ten most-played tracks at Ultra Music Festival. From singles one might expected to see from names like DrakeSkrillex, and GTA, a deeper listen into the list reveals some tracks that will surely surprise and delight.

In years past, the tracks dominating Ultra’s main stage were seen as a way to forecast which generic trends might be dominating the festival season cycle. The sheer diversity in this year’s compiled list displays a wider range of genre crossing, however, which speaks to dance music’s diversification of tastes and sounds.

Here are the top ten tracks most played tracks at Ultra 2018.


1. Drake – God’s Plan [OVO]


2. Gammer – The Drop [Monstercat]


3. 4B &TEEZ – Whistle [Premiere Class]


4. 4B & Aazar – Pop Dat [FREE]


5. Valentino Kahn – Lick It [Spinnin’]


6. GTA ft. DJ Funk – Booty Bounce (GTA Hyprr Mix) [Free/Mad Decent]


7. DJ Snake – Magenta Riddim [Geffen/Universal]


8. David Guetta, Martin Garrix, & Brooks – Like I Do [What A Music]


9. Skrillex & Habstrakt – Chicken Soup [OWSLA]


10. Skrillex & Rick Ross – Purple Lamborghini [Atlantic/Warner]


H/T: EDMTunes, Photo credit: aLIVE Coverage.

Miami Music Week in a nutshell: capturing the ridiculousness beneath the glamour

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Mainstage-Ultra-Music-Festival-2018

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…

MMW Treehouse ATM Fees Jackmaster

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.

MMW Vodka Redbull_LI

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.

MMW Water Bottles

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?

Ultra Axtone Entry Rules

5. That awkward moment when…

You lose your 20-carat engagement ring while partying too hard to Above & Beyond

above beyond paris tweet

6. When the alcohol hits early

Pacing is the key to day-drinking, young Padawan.

ultra ratchet

7. On the other hand, 3 snaps for this brave raver

no drugs mmw

8. One thing to save money on: food

Plus side: food poisoning is potentially the new leading cause of seeking medical assistance at the music festival? Put that in your pipe and smoke it, media.

Ultra Food Poisoning
ultra sick2

9. An accurate depiction of Ultra attendees from an Uber driver’s point of view:

MMW Uber Depiction

10. And finally….the Great SHM Lighting Conspiracy of 2018

Why the odd camera angles? Error? Technical difficulty? Was it all fake after all? Who knows…

camera ultra
issues lighting shm
Feature Image Credit: aLive Coverage

Tiësto teases 5 new tracks during Ultra set, announces new EP

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tiesto-ultra-music-festival-2016-pic-rukes

On March 23, Tiësto took to the Ultra 20 main stage for a special sunset performance. During his 90-minute set, the godfather of dance music brought out a couple of surprise appearances, including his fabled alter ego, Marshmello, along with a loveable closing moment when his fiancé, model Annika Backes, joined him for a kiss.

What made Tiësto’s performance so special, however, was how much unreleased new music the Dutch powerhouse producer dropped onto his Miami audience — five brand new tracks, to be exact. The new music will be a part of Tiësto’s new EP being release this Friday, March 30th. The release marks the first new material from Tiësto since 2014, when he released his fifth studio album, A Town Called Paradise.

Watch Tiësto’s Ultra 2018 main stage performance now.

Ultra Miami announces 2019 dates, return to Bayfront Park

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Photo credit: aLIVE Coverage.

Despite mounting resistance to Ultra Music Festival‘s beloved location by downtown residents, the powerhouse organizing body behind UMF has secured its return to Miami’s Bayfront Park, March 29–31, 2019. The announcement, along with official dates, came via the festival guides handed out to attendees of the 2018 event.

Given the past petition attempt to boot the dance music festival from the heart of downtown Miami — a feature which is perhaps UMF’s biggest draw — their 2019 return to Bayfront Park is a major win for Ultra Miami. Ultimately, the City of Miami, who met late last year, ruled in favor of keeping the event at it’s home on the basis that UMF brings $79 million in commerce to South Florida. This past Friday, Ultra even hosted city commissioner, Ken Russell, to show just how much of an asset the festival is to Miami. Too big to fail, may be the correct term of phrase to use for Ultra.

Photo credit: Rukes