Tips and tricks for a successful ADE
Amsterdam Dance Event is a 5 days long electronic music conference and festival happening every year in Amsterdam. In 2018 it attracted 400,000 visitors from over 100 countries and 2,500 artists. This is the go-to conference if you are a music producer and DJ. You will meet a lot of people from the industry, allowing you to create new music connections, promote and get music feedback on your tracks. You will be able to test new gear and attend great panels held by world famous DJs and producers. If you love partying, ADE is also the place to go, with hundreds of events happening in over 200 venues.
This was my first time at ADE and I was there primarily to promote and get feedback for my new songs. It was not the first music conference I attended as I also went to Miami Winter Music Conference in 2015. I had a great time at ADE and got to know a lot of people.
I would like to share with you a few things I’ve learned attending this amazing event. Either if you are going for the first time or you already participated in the past, I’m sure you will find my list of tips & tricks helpful!
HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF ADE:
- BUY TICKETS AS SOON AS YOU SEE THEM AVAILABLE
You can buy tickets here:
I bought the early bird ADE PASS tickets at the end of 2017 for 375 EUR. With ADE Pass (Day + Night) you get access to all venues and panels.
Is it worth paying that amount?
Not really in my opinion. If you are going mainly to promote your music, I recommend you buy the Conference pass and then purchase single party events. True, with ADE pass you can attend EVERY single event out there, but I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who got bounced back at the door or had to wait in long queues and then being refused to enter. So better buying single event tickets in my opinion. Also: you will be very tired after networking and walking all day from different venues (DeLaMar and De Brakke Grond are the main ones) as they are not too close to each other and I’m pretty sure you (and your GPS) will get lost in the narrow roads!
- BOOK ACCOMMODATION MONTHS IN ADVANCE AND STAY CLOSE TO ADE MAIN PLACES
Airbnb is your website of reference but you can search on Booking.com too. Start looking for accommodation at least 6 or 7 months in advance as the best places will sell out quickly. Staying in Airbnb is often cheaper than booking a Hotel in Amsterdam. If you do not have so much money to spend you can search for a single room. At the end, you will be out most of the day so no need to look for an ultra-fancy place. Stay within the canal ring and as close as possible to De La Mar Theater and De Brakke Grond.
The majority of conferences and parties are happening within the ring so it will be good to rent accommodation there especially if you want to party and come late at night, so you do not have to be too worried if one day you come late and the day after you need to be at De Brakke Grond to register for a listening session early in the morning.
- STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
Very important. Make yourself stand out from the crowd. Thousands of people are attending this event every year so being original and ultra-creative in all aspects is key.
A) It may sound obvious but in order to stand out you need to Make great music that sounds original, fresh and properly mixed and mastered.
B) Have some music released in the majority of the music streaming platforms. It helps to add credibility to your artist profile. It is not necessary, especially if you are starting up but it’s a good addition.
C) If you are promoting new unreleased songs, make sure your USB stick (NO CDs in 2019 please. Nobody will listen!) is very original and unique. Try to be very creative here and people will remember you easily.
One example? During one of the listening sessions there was a box where people could drop their demos and get the chance to have their songs played during the Demolition Demo Listening session. One producer put his USB stick inside. It was a cool small nicely shaped bottle so they picked up his first, as it immediately caught the attention of the panelists.
Do not forget to add 3 to 10 HI-QUALITY FULL MIXED & MASTERED SONGS to the USB stick and also add a PDF or text file with your email, phone number, SoundCloud, website and your main Social Media page.
D) Dress up cool. Having a sense of style is now more important than ever for a DJ-Producer. If you do not have a clue on how to better style yourself you could hire a personal shopper. In some large shopping centers the service is often offered for free if you spend a certain amount of money. Improving the way you look will defo increase your chances to be noticed. But do not overdress either. The clothing style has to be natural and fit to your persona.
E) Make sure you have a good social media presence. Every artist knows that social media is super important nowadays. I know making music should be a top priority for an artist, but now it’s only one of the many aspects that an artist should look after. Doing everything yourself, especially at the beginning of your music career it is not easy, I understand, but having at least a few thousands of real followers at the beginning makes your profile stronger. If you really do not have time to spend on this consider hiring a Social Media Manager and invest some money in promotion. A good Social Media expert can help you create your social media strategy and grow your online presence.
F) Create a cool and modern looking website. Unfortunately, having a social media presence is not enough. Building a website matters and you should consider having one. It is important to use it as a portfolio of your work. You can add your music, images and contact information. Moreover, a website offers your fans to have an exclusive overview of who you are as an artist and it is a great platform to be in contact with your fanbase. You also have full control over it and do not have to worry that social media websites or music platforms will take down the account. You decide what content is appropriate.
Make sure you have a clear vision of how you want your website to look like. Spend some time researching your favorite artist’s website and make notes of the ones you like the most.
You can hire a web designer to design the website or do it yourself with WordPress or the zillions of website creators available online. I personally prefer to hire a professional web designer to do the job but you do not necessarily have to. If you want to go cheap and keep it simple you can try wix. Wix is very easy. You can register, choose your template, customize it in few steps and you are good to go.
WordPress. Choose a cool WordPress template and ask a web designer to customize it to your needs as a musician. This is a more expensive option than Wix but you will have a more original website that can differentiate you from other producers.
You’ll be able to find thousands of WordPress themes here.
Make a list of your favorite templates and choose the one you like the most. You can use specific keywords in the ThemeForest search bar. It will help you finding the right theme. Try “DJ” or “Artist” and see what comes out.
Remember: make sure you put your social media links, your bio, a link to your best songs or album, and your email so people can contact you. Also, I do recommend you buy a domain and use your email@example.com to contact people at ADE.
- WHAT IF I AM AN INTROVERT?
I know what you are thinking now: I am an introvert and I am afraid to talk to people I have never met before. Well, even if you are not the most outgoing person out there you need to find the courage to go and talk to people at ADE. You are there especially to make connections and to hopefully find the right people with whom you will be collaborating, or releasing music. Moreover, going to ADE and stay in Amsterdam for a week it’s not cheap. Make the best out of it. I am pretty sure once you will start talking to some fellow producers about what you love your shyness will be put on side. I am pretty sure that after one day of being at ADE you will find it easier to talk to people. Also, you will not have enough time to think about it as you will be overwhelmed with things to do and people to meet!
Have a positive attitude, ask questions to the person, and if you see that the conversation is not going in any direction you can always excuse yourself and leave. But always remember to be polite and respectful. Do not worry if people will not be the nicest. It may happen but keep in mind that you will probably NOT meet him/her again during your ADE so do not worry too much about them and move on.
Keep the USB stick for music managers and record labels and give business card to other DJs. Do not be too pushy. If you see they are not very interested in having a conversation with you keep the USBs for people who show interest. Do not be too focused on yourself and how great you are. Be humble. Ask questions and show interest in the other person!
- THE ADE DELEGATES DATABASE
Make sure you sign up to ADE Website and look for the ADE Delegates Database. They usually put it online in August. It’s a database of all the music industry professionals that will be attending ADE. You can send them an email directly through ADE Website. ADE is awesome because you can have access to hundreds of music professional profiles. Meeting them in person is KEY to successfully bring your career to the next level. We need to socialize more especially nowadays where everybody is online and we are losing human contact. You never know, maybe someone will be interested in giving you a record deal, or they may want to collaborate with you on your next banger!
Be ready to spend quite some time sending emails to Delegates. You will find Label owners, promoters, Artist managers, Booking Agencies, Singer-Songwriters and other DJ-Producers like you.
Create a good email template in a Word file and make sure you create a different versions of the email draft for Managers, Record labels, etc. Send as many emails as you can and try to set up a meeting with Delegates during ADE. Be ready to spend your time in August and September sending and responding to emails. Try to schedule as many meetings as you can.
Make sure you skip the people who are not related to your music style. For example, if you make techno, I do recommend skipping Trap or Hardstyle record labels. Focus primarily on your genre.
- GOOGLE CALENDAR
Install the free Google Calendar app on your phone. Calendar is great because you can sync it with multiple devices so you can check it in your laptop, smartphone or tablet. It will be of great help in creating a plan for ADE. I recommend you wait until they announce the full line-up of the conference (usually in August) so you can then decide which parties and conference panels to attend and better organize your meetings with labels and managers.
Write in the Calendar the person you are meeting, the time and day, and some information about him/her such as profession, record label, website with BIO, and review all the info 15 minutes before the meeting.
If you are meeting up with a record label you don’t know, do not forget to listen to their music on SoundCloud, choose the songs you like the most and show them you know their artist roster and the type of music they release.
- HOW TO CHOOSE A PARTY
We all love music but we also need to remember we are at ADE first to promote our music and make a step forward into our career as music producers and DJs. That said, you certainly need some fun but do not forget to stay focused on your goals!
ADE is the perfect place for stepping up in the music business so I do recommend you pay attention at the parties you select because in some of them, you will get a chance to meet key people in the industry and give them your demo. Search for the Record Label parties and find your favorite.
Have good few demos with you and have fun but do not go too crazy every single day of ADE because you need to wake up early and register for Demo Listening session in the morning. You may also have scheduled some meetings so be careful not to wake up too late and miss the meetings. That said, if your main goal is to party… then go for it. You won’t certainly be disappointed!
8. OTHER THINGS TO KNOW & MUST-HAVE TOOLS
- Where all the action is. The two main places at ADE Conference are De La Mar Theatre and De Brakke Grond. The former is the ideal place for networking and attending some music panels. De Brakke Grond is mainly for the listening sessions and test new gear, but the panels are also held there. Another great thing at ADE are the “In the studio with…” panels, where well-known music producers will show you how they produce music and give you some good tips’ and tricks. I definitely recommend you to attend at least one of these panels. It’s a great experience and you will learn something new. Make sure you sign up in the morning (around 10 AM) as there are very limited spaces available.
- Your MUST HAVE life-saver tools. Your smartphone is your no.1 tool during ADE and your phone charger is the second. You will be able to call the delegates or WhatsApp them and they can contact you in case they want to postpone or reschedule a meeting. You will also need it to check your Calendar so you are sure you won’t miss any meeting. Do not forget to bring with you one or two very solid smartphone power banks and remember to charge them every day. You will be out pretty much all day long and your battery will drag very fast because of GPS, calls and messages.
- Have your songs in your Smartphone and bring a pair of headphones with you . Make sure you have your songs in your smartphone with you and have a good set of headphones ready (do not bring in-ears as it’s not very hygienic to give them to other people). Delegates usually have their own headphones but it’s better to bring your pair and have them handy. Also, you will meet a lot of people there, and you may want to play them your tunes and get some feedback or advice.
I hope you will find these tips useful. ADE is a wonderful event. All the places are well marked, and I am sure you will fall in love with Amsterdam. I hope you will get a good record deal or a manager to bring your career to the next level!
If you already attended ADE and you would like to add something to the article let me know. If it’s the first time for you and you want to ask me some more questions feel free to send me an email here (firstname.lastname@example.org).