Ultra Worldwide's acquisition of the WMC brand was probably inevitable...
With this year's Winter Music Conference drawing to a close and Ultra Music Festival about to start tomorrow, it's been announced that Ultra has purchased the WMC brand.
The Winter Music Conference is the dance music industry's longest running annual gathering, having taken place every year since 1985. That first event, organised by record pool directors Louis Possenti and Bill Kelly, attracted around 80 industry types to Miami's South Beach; at its peak, the annual conference was attracting up to 100,000 visitors to the city each year. But since the early 00s, WMC has faced increasingly stiff competition from other, similar conferences worldwide, such as Amsterdam Dance Event, and the International Music Summit in Ibiza.
In the meantime Ultra Music Festival, which began life in 1999 as a one-day affair taking place during WMC week, has grown into a three-day festival attended by as many as 165,000 people, with sister events held all over the Far East and South and Central America, as well as in Ibiza and Australia.
Just to complicate matters, in 2011 Miami Music Week was born. Basically, that's all the parties in clubs, hotels and so on that people go to the Winter Music Conference for, just sans WMC itself - like having the Edinburgh fringe without the Edinburgh Festival. It's all very confusing, but WMC have helpfully put this handy explainer on their website. Nonetheless, all parties involved seem to agree that a little rationalisation is in order, and accordingly, Ultra Worldwide has now bought-out the WMC brand, bringing two of the three events under one organisational and financial umbrella.
What this will actually affect isn't clear at this stage: WMC will still go ahead as normal, we're told, and WMC founder Bill Kelly will still be closely involved, at least for the foreseeable future. Cynics, of course, might say the acquisition demonstrates just how thoroughly the EDM juggernaut has now fully subsumed the house and techno culture from which it emerged, but let's reserve judgement till we see how things pan out. A much more positive way of looking at is is that WMC was at risk of dwindling away to nothing, and Ultra could have just sat on their hands and watched that happen - but chose not to.
In the meantime, Ultra Worldwide took the opportunity, at yesterday's press conference, to also announce a new festival in Beijing. Ultra made its Chinese debut in Shanghai last year; now it's been revealed that there will be two Chinese Ultras in 2018, one in Beijing on 16-17 June and a second event in Shanghai in September.
Pic: South Beach, Miami by LD/Creative Commons