IMS this year was shadowed by the tragic death of Avicii – Pete Tong one of the ideators and founder reflected on Tim Bergling aka Avicii’s life, his legacy and the impact of his tragic, untimely death. Reminding us all in his emotional speech of the importance of putting the spotlight “firmly back on the health of the DJ”, powerfully adding “we weren’t supposed to die chasing the dream.”

This was all after watching the fascinating documentary Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm where DJ’s such as B.Traits, Luciano, Seth Troxler, Carl Cox and Dr. Alinka Greysley Music Psycologist discussed drug abuse and the sacrifices of touring DJs. The film was released last year with the help of Association For Electronic Music Help Musicians UK Your Green Room Similarly to Tallinn Music Week the statement that left a mark on me was:

“You have to remember, people aren’t machines.”

Three days prior to the event, which took place from the 23rd to the 25th of May, Remedy State took place for the first time ever, it came in the form of an essential space for music industry professionals to decompress and balance before the hectic summer work schedule begins.  Remedy State was brought to life by Co-Founder of IMS Ben Turner and Blaise James (Remedy State, Co-Founder, USA) and was a huge success. Turner commented “when we started IMS Ibiza 11 years ago we were talking about the validity of the DJ Mag Top 100, now we’re talking about anxiety, mental health and drug safety”. This underpinned the importance and relevance of Remedy State’s retreat and the powerful focus that the 2018 summit had on protecting not only ourselves but also our peers and colleagues.

Having had my self issues in 2001 with a proper ‘Burn Out Syndrome’, I do understand the situation very well and want to actively use my experience and support to this cause. Due to the love and support of my family and close friends I was able to come out of it with no medical assistance – which I am very thankful for. Watching the documentary, listening to Tong’s speech and assisting with panels and workshops, I am happy to see this business, which I’ve been apart of for so long, switch mode and is become conscious, supportive and ‘balanced’!

In SAFE FROM HARM – OUR DUTY OF CARE, a debate hosted by the ASSOCIATION FOR ELECTRONIC MUSIC [See main image], key industry figures discussed why it is time to protect the health of global artists and not the wealth of global businesses. Panelist Kelly Money (Little Empire Music, Vice President, UK) reminded all that “You can’t be successful unless you are healthy.” this sentiment echoed by Christine Brown (Help Musicians, Director of External Affairs and Bus. Development, UK) who moved towards a possible solution “It’s all about enabling the individual to help themselves and seek help when they need it.” The conclusions? The industry is ready to make change to help those feeling pressure and speaking out and seeking help is vitally important for self-care.​

Another panel highlight was the one lead by Andreea Magdalina from Shesaid.so who also hosted a special Breakfast meet and greet in the morning.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN DJ CULTURE – HOSTED BY SHESAID.SO moderator Kate Hutchinson (The Guardian, Journalist, UK) asked “what’s it going to take for electronic music to have its own movement on sexual harassment?”. An incredulous Honey Dijon (Artist, USA), questioned why more hadn’t been done and put the focus back on our community to make change “it’s a culture responsibility, we’re in 2018…and we’re still at square one on this subject”.

In THE CASE FOR: DRUG TESTING AT EVENTS – HOSTED BY THE LOOP we learned from Fiona Measham (Durham University Professor of Criminology/The Loop Director, UK) that the UK has the highest rate of drug related death in Europe, indicating the current policy of prohibition needs to be shifted to one of harm reduction. Freddie Fellowes (Secret Garden Party, Promoter, UK) put it simply “human beings have been taking drugs as long as they have existed. What we need to do is encourage a more healthy relationship with drugs.”

One of the biggest audiences of the summit was undoubtedly awarded to viral sensation BRADLEY GUNN RAVER watch the whole inspiring Panel here, who used the spotlight as a candid opportunity to share how he has broken down the barriers of living with Asperger’s Syndrome through his love of electronic music. “I’ve got this saying ‘Love Life and Rave’. I live it, it simply means what it says, to go out and love your life and rave” he proudly declared to a standing ovation from the assembled delegates.

The much-anticipated annual business report, presented by Kevin Watson (Author of IMS Business Report, UK) downloadable here revealed statistics that pointed to a slowdown in the global electronic music industry value, observed for the first time in recent years. “Overall, electronic music industry global value is down 2% year on year to $7.3bn and the value of integration into mainstream culture is immeasurable”, however, the outlook remains positive following the explosion of electronic music culture into the mainstream.

In the next panel THE ANNUAL DIGITAL DEBATE moderated by Robb McDaniels, (Beatport, CEO, USA) with panlelists from Pandora, The Orchard, Soundcloud etc. the topic gender equality was raised and talked about at length by Matthew Adell (Native Instruments, Chief Digital Officer, USA) listen here to his thoughts.

At the top of my list of panels and workshops to see I had this: KEYNOTE ADDRESS – BELIEVING IN BLOCKCHAIN by BENJI ROGER (learn more here). Indeed I learned a lot – he mentioned Imagen Heap whom the Keychange group had speaking about her Blockchain solution at Tallinn Music Week. In his very funny speech he stated that ‘a very low percentage of industry people know about Blockchain or are anyhow interested in it’. I continued later at the Legends Dinner Award this included a conversation with Kurosh Nasseri (AFEM/Nasseric Inc, Co-founder/Attorney, USA) who is also sure that Blockchain will be our solution and not binding to Bitcoin or any other imposed value.

I was raised in Germany near Frankfurt so this year’s IMS Legends Award recipients Underworld are special for me, the story of Underworld’s popularity is in direct lineage with another Frankfurt Music Legend Sven Väth whose music I danced EVERY Weekend for a while. Pete Tong remembered that it was Sven  playing their single at his venues such as the OMEN and that Dorian Gray had kicked of their career as they explicitly wanted him to play there that night too.

Whilst renowned artists including Black Coffee, Deadmau5, Honey Dijon, Loco Dice, Nastia & Todd Terry joined industry leaders from BBC Radio 1, Beatport, Deezer, Native Instruments, Soundcloud, XL Recordings and more formed a roster of over 120 global artist and influencer speakers sharing their knowledge and expertise – there were also closed panels in which the ASSOCIATION FOR ELECTRONIC MUSIC were coming up with new business models and ideas. PLUS the inviting and huge environment of Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza was our home and welcomed 3 days of IMS with over 1,200 members of the global electronic music community from 48 different countries for a powerful week of reflection, positivity and progress.

Exactly as I started this year’s IMS, I closed it with an event hosted by Shesaid.so and their brand new Amsterdam branch which was launched recently by lovely co-host Sarah Stamm AEI

I was deeply touched by Ben Turner’s speech where he admitted to have had a ‘rocky’ start with Andreea Magdalina as he didn’t really understand what she wanted to achieve with shesaid.so  but humbly realised the need to address the gender equality issue – apart from needing to bring balance to the business it’s just as important for the mental and physical health in our business first environment. A big thumbs up for this years edition and I’m pretty sure we’ll all be part of it next year! I must appreciate the willingness of all to discuss the percentage of women in this business – the intention is clearly there. Thanks!