Farah Nanji  0:00  

So thank you guys both so much for joining us. We're delighted to welcome Meindert and Jan, Mission Makers podcast who are co-directors of the Amsterdam Dance Event. And we're speaking just a couple of weeks before the event. So, you know, this year's conference is finally back in full throttle after a turbulent couple of years with the pandemic. So guys, how has been, you know, the process of organizing and what are you both most excited about this year during ADE?

 

Meindert Kennis  0:36  

Um, well, the process was for this year was was pretty good. Obviously, we had two quite difficult years. Jan and I started being a co director of ADE  in December 2019. So the timing was not RSA optimal. So to say, so we, after we started we, we envisioned we had the strategy for for the year 2020. And then COVID came that went into a deep law drawer. Then we had a digital edition, which was purely online, for the festival and the conference. Then in 2021, we had a really weird situation, because we had lockdowns and protests, especially geared around the entertainment industry here in Holland, because they were very vocal and very loud about, you know, all the restrictions, etc. And then after summer, there was this time window of maybe a month and a half a month and a half, which resulted in four weeks before the actual event, the government, the government said, Okay, you can have events until 12 o'clock, so there was a curfew from 12 o'clock. And we thought, okay, this is how we're going to do this. But then the whole industry and all the local promoters were so resilient that everybody, everyone managed to, to push back their whole schedule, and all those all the time slots to daytime, which was really, really special, because it ended up being a fantastic festival. And everybody had this short time window where people could go crazy. And a few weeks after ADE, we got into a new lockdown. So that went on, still, you tend to forget those things quite fast. But I think it was January, February that we finally got, you know, the feeling, okay, this year is going to be better. And then we just went through with the strategy that we we've made all the way back in the end of 2019. And started really pushing on it. And a lot of people, you know, build a new team around it. And now we're here. So and we're super excited. And we're super excited. Everybody is coming again, especially from abroad, which is, which is very nice.

 

Farah Nanji 3:02  

Yeah, definitely. Anything to add to that? Yeah.

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven  3:08  

Well, normally I do this kind of introduction. So I'm really happy minor does it and he does quite well. So no, I'm happy. The thing is, if you if you're away for two years, at least for the industry, you're away for two years, it's always exciting times when you come back, and we're really happy to see everybody's coming back to ADE to be at this annual worldwide gathering for the electronic music. So that's the that's our aim to be the biggest gathering for electronic music. And we did it this year again. And this year was more exciting than other years because you were continuing that momentum and now we were away for two years. And we what we see now is that everybody's coming back and the whole if I look at Instagram, and it's my bubble, I know but a lot of people are posting where they going different parties, different networking moments, and I'm like, Okay, this is it makes me so proud to be able to facilitate this momentum for all these people in this industry. And for all these fans. We this year we got about 600 events. And if all events sell out, we got about 600,000 people in the city of Amsterdam. And to be able to be the let's say the connector on the background and to the facilitator is is a good feeling. Right miners? Absolutely.

 

Farah Nanji  4:43  

Absolutely. I mean the music industry we all know is notoriously tough to navigate and the quality of conversations and panels that are that have consistently been an ad er you know, absolutely amazing. So, you know, hats off to you guys in the team and going deeper a bit into the purpose and the Why behind IDE? How do you guys believe that the core values and vision of this mission has evolved over time?

 

Meindert Kennis  5:09  

Well, it has, well, it started back in 1997, right, almost six, six or 766. And it started as a small conference with the goal of selling local copyrights to foreign buyers of that copyrights. And then, after a while, there was a club nights, and there were more club nights and even more club nights, and the conference grew bigger. And the thing is, you get this? How do you say, meal? What's what's the, what's the word for that?

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 5:43  

I think? symbiosis.

 

Meinder Kennis  5:45  

Yeah, symbiosis of, you know, the the industry coming to Amsterdam. So the parties will grow because, you know, artists need a stage to show themselves for the industry. And, and the more shows there are the more industry there's coming. So there it grew. And it grew. And it grew until where we are now and and that's also a reason why well, actually for 2020 already, but now it's coming to fruition in 2020 22 to 2020 2022. Yeah. Is that really set? Okay? So you have the the high end of the of the pro people that are coming to Amsterdam, and you have people who are aiming to, you know, make their first steps in the industry, whether it is as an artist or as a professional or someone who's just interested or maybe you're a gearhead, I don't know. So we decided to split up the conference for pros and lap is what we call it now. Which is like for lab, it's only 60 euros, and for pro it's 10 times that amount. But the the idea behind it is to make sure that the people who buy a ticket for lap now will buy a ticket for pro and not only for the sustainability of our ticket sales, but also as a as the industry to maintain itself and to make sure there's enough growth from from, you know, from grassroots. And not only on the conference, we also do that or try to do that we aim to do that for the festival. So for instance, we have a a small budget, which we allocate to grassroots organisations who want to do something different. So we make sure there's enough growth and sustainability within not only the conference, but also in the festival part, which you know, so we we maintain this red circle in October in everyone's agenda for everything that has to do with electronic music.

 

Farah Nanji  7:36  

Hmm, interesting. And mind that you joined ADE just a few months, as you were saying before the pandemic and Jan I believe you are quite heavily involved for five years as head of the festival before taking a short break and then returning as co director and the helmsman the pandemic, in May. So what have you both learned about leadership and resiliency during these years? And would you say you have a particular style of leadership?

 

Meindert Kennis  8:01  

Well, the thing is, it was kind of a coincidence. Because to be fair, you know, we were kind of speed days together. And they said, Okay, miners, you do, you might be good in this and young you might be doing doing that, and then we kind of clicked and I think that's something you can't maybe force. But it was also a coincidence. But I think being having doing leadership in an organisation that has so many stakeholders, and so many people who are depending in some way or another on your decisions around October, because obviously there's a lot going on in Amsterdam, a lot, a lot of people with a lot of interested in interests, that needs to be facilitated. So I think, you know, being a duo directing team is something I you know, from when we started that I'm telling that to everyone, you know, if you have a kind of complicated role, with a lot of stakeholders, make sure you don't have one person who is directing it. Because if you're together, you can make decisions way faster and wait on not only better, but also faster. So you know, yeah, that's it. So you can move on to next issues and without, you know, dwelling too much on decisions. Yeah.

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 9:26  

In terms of the leadership, I think we both are really good at giving responsibility to our team. So at ease, we got a small core team. And we got a lot of events and a lot of and we we will not be able to know all the details of everything that's going on during ad II. So what you have to have is create parameters is the right word. Yeah. Add to, to have your team needs to know, to knew to ask them, okay? How is your how's your team doing or refine and you have to create a sort of feeling on which intuition in which, you know, things are going to be organised well or not. And to and for that you, you really have to give them some responsibility and ownership and not to some micromanagement, because if you go micromanaging them, then if it won't work at all. So you have to have some confidence in the people you hire. And that's, we had some good examples, and we had some bad examples. And that's what we learned over the two years. And we kind of created this team, which we have right now. And we just before we were in this podcast, in this conversation, we had discussions together, Matt, and I were like, okay, for now, this is a really good team, and we really got the right people on the right spot, and they are able to not only take ownership of their own team in our own department, but also talk to other departments who say, Okay, this is not going well, that's not going well, without being, let's say, angry, when somebody says has something to say about what you're doing. So it's all quite constructive. And our biggest achievement is the team We, we created together.

 

Meindert Kennis 11:39  

Make it about yourself, especially because it's very tempting, you know, when suffering, there's so much going on to think, Okay, well, maybe that artists should play but it's not we don't, I mean, it's not that's, that's not our, that's not our role. So whatever we feel, doesn't really matter. In the end, that kind of sounds

 

Farah Nanji  11:58  

really good. And how many people are in the team, if I may ask the full team for ad.

 

Unknown Speaker  12:03  

I think we're now about, I don't know, 65 people, so


 

Jan-Willem van de Ven  12:14  

a lot of freelancers, because we're only 10. Full year. And so builds up to 65, run around $1. and steal a lot of let's say, employees for for just a week, you know, so that's still a couple of 100 Extra. But 65 for, let's say, three, four months, I guess,

 

Farah Nanji  12:41  

amazing. And mind that I noticed that you are a very highly acclaimed CMO at spinnin’ records for 10 years. So I'm curious to know, what sort of influences and learnings you might bring or you you have been bringing to the marketing strategy at ADE? 

 

Meindert Kennis  12:58  

it's funny that you say, because I wanted to say that and for your last question, because it's something you know, I took away from Elko was the former CEO of spinnin records, what what I learned from him is that, that you that give ownership to the people in your organisation, and don't, don't try to know everything, or be knowledgeable about every single aspect of the organisation, and leave the expertise to specific people who are who are experts in their field, it's something I really took away. And marketing wise, while it's, it's not really comparable. I mean, we'd spin in, we did stuff every day. And there was every week, there were releases. And now we're this is like one momentum a year, which is kind of strange, but also, also really nice. Because you have a really smooth lead time towards one specific moment. So yeah, I don't think it's really comparable. Because it's been in what I did what I tried to really build a community and communicate with them every every day. But with a te you have to be you have to be realistic. That you know, in October, that's our moments, and therefore everything all the spotlights are on us in October, and they're not in November in December, then the spotlights go to someone else. And I think you don't need to pretend that you know that you have to take the stage during that period, because then it's someone else.

 

Farah Nanji 14:29  

Hmm, yeah, no, absolutely. And you touched on a good point. I mean, like, especially founding a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs is it's hard to kind of, you know, when it when it grows so big, you need to step out and you need to trust you need to surround yourself obviously with people that are always smarter than you. Otherwise you're in the wrong room as they say, right. And yeah, you know, despite obviously the obvious things like the pandemic, what are some of the biggest challenges that you know, the public doesn't see in running a conference of this calibre

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 15:03  

So many being we're not just a conference, so so we don't put a gate or around our own event. So, so the most important were platform. So that means we got about 600 events during ADE, which are not organised by ad but coordinated and facilitated, you can see us as an umbrella brand. With all promoters under the ad e umbrella, there are a lot of potential conflicts lying. Because you, you have to get aligned with the city, the city government, with all these promoters with with with the artists interest, so a lot of different interests and you'll have to get aligned to to really organise this. So that being a platform with all these different stakeholders, takes a lot of relation management, a lot of stakeholder management, with all different kinds of people. And I think that's, that's, that's, that's a challenge every year. And this year, was a challenge as well. But being away for two years and having had COVID As everybody saw the pandemic and experienced the pandemic and everyone now is a little bit more aligned than they used to be in the past because everyone's like, Okay, we can't take it for granted that ad is here. It's so it's, it was a bit easier on that side to be honest. But yeah, it still is. It's a there's so many people involved in organising ad E and it's not our own event. We are we own the conference. And we organised these two conferences, and we curate our arts and culture programme, which is our cross cultural programme. And we coordinate the festival. So we got a lot of different hats on. And sometimes these hats can get a little bit confusing for us as well as being director. But yeah, in the end, we take over the city for five days, and it's going to be a black and yellow city and the whole industry. I know all the fans from all over the world are coming to ask them to really enjoy this this unique platform festival and conference. So yeah, we're really happy to see to see that happening in less than two weeks. A man less than two weeks. It sounds sounds nearby. Right?

 

Farah Nanji  17:42  

The Final Countdown is definitely on. It seems like this year, there's a lot of important focus on decentralisation, web three, gender equality, climate, and even operating, you know, dance music in the political arenas. So what do you guys think? Are some of the maybe either investment or or just general obstacles in kind of unlocking their full potential?

 

Meindert Kennis  18:06  

I'm not sure what you mean by your question. But to give, to give an answer on the rationale behind, you know, behind programming is, what we did this year is to think, okay, in the, in the past, it was all really business focused, you know, the conferences, everybody was came along that really business and of course, there's now a lot of things happening in the world, that crossover with everything that we do with electronic music. So we thought, okay, maybe what we did is we clustered the subjects, and it's not black or white, because, you know, everything is kind of fluid. But we thought, okay, let's have this one cluster, built around the business over the whole value chain of electronic music, and then have one cluster about future because that's really something that's, that's, that's, that's an important subject of the past two years. So everything regarding like you said with web three NF T's but also startups, you know, that was something from a few years back was still super relevant. So we have a startup competition, and then everything that's that's more how do you avoid you're more or the kind of awareness slash social slash How do you call that what's a good name for that English? Impact? Yeah, that's a good one Yeah, more of an impact we call it more we call it business future worlds. We put it on the world but it's not not per se geographically although it sometimes is. So that's the way we thought okay, let's make sure we we touch on everything that's going on in electronic music this year because in the end, it is also kind of a thermometer within the within the industry, whether it is on genres or artists but also subjects that are I bet are relevant at this day.

 

Farah Nanji  20:05  

Yeah, in a way, in a way, I guess. Yeah. Because Because what I'm sort of looking for is, is, you know, we we are having, you know, these technologies are obviously existed for for many years, but they haven't yet reached their full potential. And I suppose, you know, perhaps one of the obstacles is knowledge at the end of the day, right? And having access to that knowledge and understanding, so, yeah, of course, conferences like this, provide that platform for, for that knowledge to kind of for that thought leadership to really take place. Do you guys think that, you know, consumers of music will ever shift their mindset away from expecting music for free? And, and if you think that that could be achieved? What what do you think would be some of the key drivers to achieve that?

 

Meindert Kennis  20:50  

Um, well, so you're actually now you're talking about specifically about web three NF T's and their role in music, right?

 

Farah Nanji  21:00  

No more more, on a separate topic. You know, we've, as an industry obviously faced, you know, a massive shift a turn from consumers who, you know, we're happy to buy music, in CD format, vinyls, and then obviously, the mp3 and all streaming kind of killed that that thing. And it's created this huge pressure on artists to have their performance fees coming from performance, or, in a way, even kind of, you know, expanding into the NFT and technological sector to diversify their income. But do you think that consumers will always expect music for free? Do you think we can change that mindset,

 

Meindert Kennis  21:35  

that's, that's more of a discussion of perceived value for music, you know, and we've come out of like, the web two era where perceived value was apart from live shows and the experience you have, you know, at coming to the show, everything was kind of out there and just for grabs. And of course, that can of course, that can change, whether you talk about, you know, experience in future metaphors, whichever form it will take in the future, but also, you know, digital value, which is changing, and I think that's also really a generational thing. I mean, I was a wealth not, not me, because I'm too old, because I was buying CDs, and then you know, but people who will grow up in the web two era, I think it's a bit, maybe it's going to be hard to fool them to recognise that something that's digital that can actually have value. But I believe that people are young now. And grow up, they will, they will perceive something digital, they actually they can learn that something which is digital, and it's on your phone can actually have value. So I think there's a lot of opportunity there. So the perceived value of discussion will probably just evolve through new generations, I think.

 

Farah Nanji  22:53  

Yeah, definitely. No, it's, it's a very, it's very interesting point, because it is about perceived value. And I think you've touched on something really interesting here, which is that, you know, we're talking about web to generation and the new, you know, web three generation where, you know, banks have been mostly a lot of banks being replaced by digital banks, you know, children, you know, and the new generations have a completely different relationship with money when it's not tangible. It's not hot, it's not a hard, it's not in our hands. And, and yeah, exactly getting that value as a, as a perception from your phone. And, you know, and in essence, really supporting creators and allowing them to do what they do best.

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 23:32  

conference, we, we have Richie Hawtin, who's minting nfts, and tracks at the same time. So he's really explaining what he's into and how he experiments with the new technology. We have Don Diablo on a completely different track, and he's going to do an interview with himself, you know, being a deep fake and doing an interview. We also have a live hologram interview with a big US, US artists. So we display on that track that I explained on the future track. We try to display all these people on the forefront who are utilising the technology in ways they they think, works in any ways they think work for them. And so yeah, I think the learnings we take from them will eventually hopefully inspire and shape the years to come.

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 24:26  

We're not only going to talk the talk because we also got, let's say a blend reality so so we're going to have our conference going to be hybrid. So so people in the metaverse will be able to really attend a e and have discussion and interact with with the live panel, the physical panel. So we don't only talk talk, we'll also be walking the walk and that's that's that's a new approach from our side to to really see what the future of conferences can can be So we have this hollow and it's metaphors and these kind of panels in about future innovations. Because it's a changing world and we really want to explore what's what can we what can we continue? What's what's valuable and what's not. And people? Yeah, so so it's it's interesting. addition this year. Yeah.

 

Farah Nanji  25:27  

Yeah, no, it's true. And like, of course, the pandemic force, you know, every conference organiser to go completely outside of their comfort zone. And imagine this not only for the short term, but as you say, the long term play because that is the new dimension that we are we are living in. As this podcast is also heavily into the topic of motorsport. There have been some awesome collaborations recently between f1 and Dutch artists such as Afrojack Tiesto, Martin Garrix. And even although Charlotte De Witte is not Dutch. Obviously, the relationship between Belgium and the Netherlands is a very close one. So I'm not sure if you guys saw that but you know, it's very cool to see techno represented on the on the f1 stage. So I'm curious, you know, about your thoughts on this and whether your maximum stopping bands

 

Meindert Kennis 26:14  

Well, I'm a fuel I've been a Formula One fan for my whole life. But it's not only Max, of course, we've got bicycle from the W series as well. I think she won in Singapore. Did she win? But um, yeah, apart from that, we don't have anything going for. For motorsports, I'm really looking for a connection there. I know there's in Mexico, they were the hardware was playing there. And I know, Martin is I think he's close to max. But apart from that, I'm not really sure what the what the connections are, at least at least in the Netherlands,

 

Farah Nanji 26:56  

there's been quite a lot of like, takeovers with artists. So like, obviously, there's the entertainment side, the all the concerts, but then, you know, they get quite heavily involved with like Spotify. And Charlotte, for example, did an amazing set on the actual f1 track and it was, you know, streamed and then you know, she sampled the sound of Formula One engines. And then that became naturally people number one in the tech news genre.

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 27:19  

marks the importance of electronic music nowadays. I think that's, that's the most important lesson we could have. Because, let's say, I don't know, 15 years ago, you could never imagine Formula One, we'll have a DJ  say 20 years ago, DA would play on the track itself. So so it's, it's

 

Meindert Kennis  27:45  

the third one at the Olympics 2004. There was there was a breakthrough as for DJs, with the crossover to sports. Yeah, I believe. That was really, really a tentpole moment regarding that. Yeah, I think there was just after he did the first solo show, because that was also unheard of in that time. And then he did the opening of the Olympics in Greece, if I recall. Well, and then it was done more more often. Yeah. So like what John says, it really emphasises the importance of electronic music. And of course, you know, it's music that has a lot of energy. And of course, that's also quite at the core of what motorsports is.

 

Farah Nanji 28:28  

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, it's super cool to see exactly as you say, I mean, electronic music is everywhere. So it's, it's just amazing to see how it can impact sports as well. And even drivers who obviously listen as well to, you know, this kind of music to kind of prepare their mind before races and stuff. And lastly, I would like to ask you guys, what restaurant do you recommend the most for people visiting ade and I'm saying I'm sure you guys but I have to ask you

 

Meindert Kennis 29:00  

want to know yourself? Of course. Well, to be honest, gastronomical. Zero like I know nothing about food. So I have to I have to pass this question to you.

 

Farah Nanji  29:12  

But what's your favourite place to eat? Even if it's not like fancy or like whatever, like, you know, just just like a

 

Meindert Kennis  29:19  

bars where you got you have those in London a lot, you know, bars where you can buy a hamburger and I'm fine with that. I know. It's really it's really tasteless, but that's me.

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 29:29  

Okay. Yeah, what do you like?

 

Farah Nanji  29:35  

Well, it's not necessarily my taste. It's more just like, you know, as a I mean, I've been to Amsterdam quite a few times, but more let's say, you know, as like, yeah, like one of the places that as you would just recommend, like, it's a cool experience, but the food is amazing. And it's, it's, you know, it's it's just amazing.

 

Jan-Willem van de Ven 29:57  

If you're going to eat and you just want to eat go quite fast and have a good meal and really be in a in a traditional Amsterdam place I should I would go to the say die can you get numb kale there, I used to live there for quite a few years. And I, I was there a few, two or three weeks ago, I was like, I really miss it. I don't I don't live there anymore. So, but it's a traditional Chinese food, but really good and really fast and then all fresh and a lot of duck and that kind of and it's, it's just amazing. And the people are really, they don't like customers. So it's always a nice experience to be here. You will be out in like, I don't know, half an hour 40 minutes, but food's good. Yeah, so I always like being there. It's just like a little bit awkward.