Mission Makers Podcast | London | UK
MEINDERT KENNIS & JAN-WILLEM VAN DE VEN
It's less than 14 days before the biggest gathering of electronic music in the world takes place in Amsterdam, where an enormous amount of pressure to deliver has been placed on the organizers given that the conference part of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) was unable to take place in person last year due to Covid-19. This has resulted in a staggering amount of pent-up demand by artists and aficionados, with over 600,000 people set to attend this year over five days. You would be forgiven for thinking that the leadership team would be anxious under the circumstances. Instead, we were met by two extremely calm and composed individuals by the name of Meindert Kennis and Jan Willem van de Ven.
Perhaps their relaxed nature is a telling sign of their symbiotic leadership. Calm leaders bring a wave of maturity and level-headedness that is even more mission-critical during turbulent times and as we learn in our conversation, Meindert began co-directing ADE just 4 months before the pandemic, with Jan joining the deep end shortly after.
Meindert shares with us that one of his biggest learnings of leadership before joining ADE was through his time at Spinnin' Records where he served as CMO, and through the culture of empowerment developed by the CEO, he observed how important it is to give ownership to people in the organization and "leave the expertise to the experts". Ultimately this comes from a place of trust in the hiring process and Jan echoes this thought sharing insights into the trust they have developed between their symbiotic approach to the teams they both lead.
The interview shifts gears to the topic of curating the conference for ADE this year where crucial conversations like the impact of the music ecosystem on climate change, operating in events in countries of conflict and leveraging disruptive technologies for artists take the forefront in the hallowed halls of Felix Meritas this year. Meindert and Jan tell us that they really wanted to explore the full spectrum of the value chain surrounding the industry and this year we can look forward to highly acclaimed artists like Richie Hawtin showcasing how DJs can mint their own NFTs, Hardwell talking about his return after taking a sabbatical, and Beatport talking about owning your company's history while navigating change, amongst hundreds more sessions.
ADE began in 1996 as a 3-day conference with just 300 delegates and 30 DJs representing the music industry. Its goal was to nurture and preserve electronic music, its culture, and its industry worldwide. Since then it has experienced explosive growth, with over 2,500 artists and 600 speakers in almost 200 venues. It has become a firm staple in the global dance music industry calendar and has become devoted to stimulating innovation and talent while laying an important foundation for future generations.
This year, the event will have 4 main strands:
Showcasing the full spectrum of electronic subgenres in Amsterdam's finest nightlife spaces
We are looking forward to Worakls Orchestra Performance, Eric Prydz holographic show, Nils Frahm, Hernan Cattaneo with Nick Warren All Night Long, Afterlife, Satori, Drumcode, and of course our very own Mission Maker, Carl Cox presenting his live show, Awesome Soundwave.
2) Arts & Culture
Exploring the crossovers between art and electronic music
Five days of ADE can be exhausting on energy levels, even for the most experienced ravers among us! Our team plans to start each morning at the iconic Westerkerk Church which is being transformed into an oasis of peace and tranquility with the renowned artist, Tamara Shogaolu capturing a serene rainforest in Panama that interacts with your breath.
The ultimate business and inspiration gathering for the global electronic music industry
There are so many talks to look forward to and not enough time for us to attend all of them! But the ones we will definitely be attending include panels sharing insights around rapidly growing territories like India, Africa, and South America. new realities for agents and managers, democratizing the future of the music business, live workshops with KiNK, and behind-the-scenes conversations with Joris Voorn, Diplo, Joseph Capriati, and Martin Garrix.
The prime platform for learning from key players in the industry, aimed at aspiring producers
Standout sessions include Spotify for artists masterclass, the ups, and downs of starting a label with Charlotte De Witte's team, and the live setup of Joachim Pastor.
We wrap up the interview with a few closing thoughts on Web3 and the perception of value for future generations, as well as a few tips on where to get the best food in Amsterdam. It wouldn't be a Mission Maker-style interview if we didn't touch on the subject of motorsports, especially given the Dutch pride around Max Verstappen, and the pair explore the similarities of both industries, especially when it comes to the amount of high energy levels required.
Stay tuned for a special episode airing after ADE where we'll be bringing you industry insights with notable panelists straight from the ground.
Meindert and Jan's episode can be found in the video below and on iTunes and Spotify.
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