INTERVIEW: Richard Zijlma – Amsterdam Dance Event (2013)

richard-zijlma-photo-credit-aico-lind

The sold-out 18th edition of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) will take place next week (October 15th-20th).  The premiere electronic and dance music conference is the place where all aspects of the industry come together to network.  The nightime festival will bring together over 300,000 clubgoers to over 300 events featuring the biggest DJs from around the world (including Armin Van Buuren, Calvin Harris, Sander Van Doorn, Steve Angello, and Tiesto). To learn more about ADE and what’s new for 2013, I spoke to the charming General Manager Richard Zijlma.

DJ Ron Slomowicz:  How did you get involved with Amsterdam Dance Event?
Richard Zijlma:  As I was already working in the music industry, mostly with experience in production, I was asked to get involved in ADE from the start, first as production manager and, after 3 years, as director.

RS:   How has it grown or changed since you joined the team?
Richard Zijlma:  I was there from the beginning and a lot has changed. The scene has changed over the years, and ADE has changed from a small b2b conference mainly focusing on labels and publishers who came over to license tracks to a global platform serving the whole scene.

RS:   What was your most memorable moment / personal highlight of ADE 2012?
Richard Zijlma:  I really liked the show of JXL at the Concertgebouw. It was such an achievement to have electronic music at a classical venue like the Concertgebouw, and I just love the stuff he does. We are about the same age, so it is great to see how he has developed himself. And I always respected how hard-working he is.

RS:   With the size of festivals growing, there is an increased pressure to be more green.  How is ADE addressing that this year?
Richard Zijlma:  It is challenging for sure, as we are not a traditional festival surrounded with a gate, and we work with so many venues. But I believe that helping to create awareness is a good step. So this year we have introduced ADE Green, a dedicated subconference with ID&T. Also, of course, we try to do what we can do on level of working with partners, etc. For example, this year’s ADE list of delegates we will not print, but rather provide online, so that helps for sure and is even more friendly for the users as you can directly contact people you want to meet and create your MyADE for example.

RS:   ADE is not just a daytime conference – there is so much going on.  What’s the best way to keep up with everything?
Richard Zijlma:  As there is so much to do, preparation is key to get the max out of the event. Of course it depends on with what goal you’re coming over to the ADE. We invest a lot to have a good and updated website and App to inform everyone as well as we can. Even for me, it is hard to create a schedule during ADE- haha.

RS:   What has the response been to the Beamlab visuals/stage design events?  How important do you think visuals are for a DJ’s live performance?
Richard Zijlma:  The visual part of DJ’s live performances are of course important; it helps to tell a story or to inspire the audience and to work on your identity as artist, for example. Last year we started with ADE Beamlab and there came 450 visitors to the program, so we were really surprised, but it meant that it is definitely becoming more important to share knowledge on this level.

RS:   Each year, ADE has a session about up-and-coming countries/markets in the EDM world.  What territories were chosen for this year – and why?
Richard Zijlma:  This year we focus on South Africa. I went over there to see what is happening over there, and it is really inspiring how electronic music is out there and how it can change lives. A few years ago, Goldfish came to perform at ADE and they attracted a large audience, which I could not foresee, and starting thinking this is an interesting development. With artists like Black Coffee as well, you can see things are happening over there. And as we try to be a global platform, it means we need to hear sounds from all over the world!

RS:   I read there was a new partnership with Samsung and ADE this year.  As a fanatical Galaxy S3 user, I am wondering how the two organizations will be working together.
Richard Zijlma:  Correct. We invited them last year to the event. Both are leading brands. Both are working in a field that you need to be head of the game. We were lucky with this match, and there will be a whole activation around the partnership to add extra value for the audience on content level and service level, for example.

RS:   How has the inclusion of the DJ Mag Top 100 announcement affected ADE over the past few years?
Richard Zijlma:  In a positive way. Four years ago the awards was always in London at the same period as ADE. But with ADE, now everyone is in town, all the artists, all the press, the whole international dance industry, and of course the audience. So it was just a matter of time to sit together and to announce the DJ Mag Top during ADE. What also was a point was that I did not want to compete with DJ Mag Top 100 by creating our own awards as part of ADE as it doesn’t make sense to have two in the same period, of course.

RS:   What effect do you think ADE has had on the Dutch dance music scene?
Richard Zijlma:  I can only think that it is positive. It gave the Dutch scene the feeling you have with sports games when you play at home, I think. Having a platform where the whole is coming over to your place gives a unique opportunity and saves time and money to get connected with all the key people from the industry. The Dutch industry understood that, and brought a lot of business and promotional opportunities for the Dutch scene.

RS:   I noticed in 2012 that the ADE Playground events were everywhere.  What exactly is the Playground and what is being planed for 2013?
Richard Zijlma:  We wanted to create a dedicated program which connects the night experience as part of the day with workshops, in-stores, Q&As with artists, photo exibitions, etc.  This year, we have great documentaries. ADE Playground is for music lovers with programs at about 25 different locations during the day! With the special ADE Card you also get access to the program or discount on, for example, the official ADE Bag.

RS:   One of my most treasured possessed possessions is the DJ book by Krijn Noordwojk which I bought at ADE two years ago.  Tell us about the new Mary Go Wild book that is launching this year.  Are the two books related?
Richard Zijlma:  The books are related as they both reflect the electronic music scene, of course. The Mary Go Wild! book is an unbelievable book about 25 years dance in Netherlands which tells about all those great years and everyone involved!

RS:   ADE is often used at a place to launch new technology/DJ gear.  What should we be watching for?
Richard Zijlma:  There are always brands or companies to launch new initiatives during ADE, but most of them want to keep this secret until the event, so you better come over!

RS:   During the week of ADE, you seem to be everywhere.  What is your secret for maintaining your energy level (and pleasant demeanor) for the whole time?
Richard Zijlma:  What helps is to have a bike; this way it is quite easy to move around. I’m afraid there is no secret, but eating a banana every day helps.

RS:   ADE is put on by Buma Cultuur. What exactly is Buma?
Richard Zijlma:  Buma is the Dutch authors rights collecting society. It is fantastic to have such a great organization behind the event to support and to share knowledge and to help promote artists.

RS:   What other events does Buma put on during the year?
Richard Zijlma:  There are quite a few; from Eurosonic Noorderslag till Jazzday, so within almost every genre Buma puts on a platform. So there is a lot of synergy and experience on marketing and production, for example. So hopefully you will notice!

RS:   If you had to choose five essential things that everyone who attends ADE must do – what would they be?
Richard Zijlma:  Prepare your trip, stay openminded, listen, talk, and drink!

RS:   What advice do you have for someone who is attending ADE for the first time?
Richard Zijlma:  As said before,preparation is key. Also, what could help is to ask, if you visit the conference, for some introductions. And to make sure you see it as a part of a long-term strategy, as the first year maybe no one will know you, but after a few years people start to recognize and remember you.

For more information about ADE 2013 – click here.

For coverage of ADE 2012 – click here.

Special thanks to Clare Dover at Global Publicity for arranging this interview.

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