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Steve Goodgold, the dance-music czar at the booking agency Windish, remembers the moment when agents had to take notice of electronica. "When Electric Daisy first did 100,000 tickets, it was the shock heard around the world," he said Wednesday on the "Creating the Experience: The Ascendance of the Music Festival" panel at the EDMBiz conference in Las Vegas. "But electronic music had been a big touring business for a long time."
That fact -- that dance acts had become an efficient live moneymaker -- was the biggest story in live music, especially after the 2011 Electric Daisy's inaugural turn in Las Vegas, which drew around 250,000 people over three days. But the sudden popular attention raised questions about how that new interest would play out.
The panel Wednesday tried to answer that question -- is the future in self-contained, immersive festivals, or in introducing dance music into an existing live infrastructure?
"Creating the Experience" was perhaps the most anticipated panel of the conference, as it featured the usually-reticent-to-press Insomniac and Electric Daisy founder Pasquale Rotella. Hosted by Goldenvoice Senior Vice President Skip Paige, it also enjoyed the last-minute addition of Shelly Finkel, the promoter who set a record in 1973 for the largest concert in American history (the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, N.Y., which pulled an estimated 600,000 people at $10 a ticket). Marian Goodell of Nevada's Burning Man event and Goodgold rounded it out, and they all seemed to agree that as long as it's done right, more venue options are always better for live dance music.
Rotella, in particular, admitted a certain frustration with the spatial infrastructure of Electric Daisy. "There are obstacles in our venues, they're not built for what we do. Stadiums are for sports, speedways are for racing. I want to build an adult Disneyland for what we do."
It sounds as if he's interested in hand-designing a venue for future Electric Daisys, on par with the Empire Polo Grounds and how it's an inseparable part of the identity of the annual Coachella festival in Indio, Calif. And for him, he said that the venue and atmosphere are just as (if not more) important than who he books as headliners. "I never wanted to be a concert promoter. I went to one concert, and it was like 'I got my ticket, found my seat, I'm waiting to be entertained.' It was boring. I'm trying to create a show."