Jason Bentley Explains Why Fans, Not Industry Types, Are the Most Important Element of the EDM Biz Conference

Matt Oliver / OC Weekly
Jason Bentley hosting EDM Biz Conference 2012
The biggest party of the summer for electronic dance music aficionados is finally here. 345,000 18-and-over festival attendees are expected to take over Las Vegas this weekend and even more are bound to attend the insane amount of club nights, pool parties and special events surrounding Electric Daisy Carnival for an entire week. One of those is the 2nd Annual EDM Biz conference which kicked off it's festivities last night with an opening party at the Palazzo nightclub Lavo featuring Dash Berlin. The conference officially begins today at the Cosmopolitan Hotel featuring speakers such as Afrojack, Dirty South, LA Weekly's Katie Bain, Dancing Astronaut's Senthil Chidambaram, Perry Farrell, Pete Tong and of course Insomniac's CEO Pasquale Rotella. We spoke to the conference's moderator and co-curator KCRW's Jason Bentley to get an inside look at where EDM came from and where it is headed.

OC Weekly (Alejandra Loera): EDM has become such a big influence in not only Las Vegas, but Southern California as well specifically in LA and OC. Why do you think the EDM Biz Conference is important and how does it address our community?

Jason Bentley: We have always been a beacon for dance music culture. Going back 20 years we were one of the first markets to embrace the old rave scene. It found a home here more than other places and now it's bigger than ever. For that reason it's important that we guide the conversation with a conference to define terms moving forward or else it will get misinterpreted and has the potential to change in a negative way. There are a lot of really important fundamentals from dance music that are different from rock & roll or, say, country. Now that it's become so big, it's important to create a forum for dialog and networking to help bridge to mainstream outlets. It's about making sure our voice is heard and recognized. There have been a lot of people involved in the growing of dance music culture for a very long time, especially in LA. This is our movement and the culture that has defined us.

OC Weekly: Times have certainly changed since those original rave days where you meet tons of new like minded individuals. What do you think has been the biggest change in the dance music experience as this EDM craze has taken over the states?

The big shift to EDM is that it has become a rock show experience and kids expect that. When I was first getting involved in rave culture it was like an adventure with your friends. It wasn't about a show with someone pretending to be a DJ. I noticed the change when it became common to stop the sets for 15 minutes. "Why would you ever stop playing?," I thought. Now it's necessary because there are so many elements involved with production and lights. That also went along with producers being presented as DJs. The old school craft of deejaying and controlling the energy was lost. It used to be about telling a story and taking you on a musical journey. Take Steve Aoki for instance who I adore. There's no way he is deejaying while he is on a raft in the crowd. Yet he is considered one of the top DJs in the world. I also miss the adventure because it felt like so much positive came from being social. Today they face the stage and hold their phone's up because they are taking photos and videos.

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