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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.