Unless you've been living under a rock, you know these past 10 days marked the 27th consecutive year of Winter Music Conference in Miami Beach Florida. This one-of-kind gathering unites thousands of attendees, including artists, DJs, record labels, producers, A&R, press, event/concert promoters, venues and beyond. All week long, the most elite invade South Beach to attend seminars, workshops, events and parties with the top artists and DJs. More than 1,400 EDM artists from all over the world come out to be among their peers and friends while celebrating their passion for music.
Probably the biggest must-be-at event was the 14th Annual Ultra Music Festival, which won the International Dance Music Award 2011 "Best Music Event." This three-day long event brought out 165,000 EDM fans to see top notch acts like Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto, Skrillex, Kraftwerk, Avicii, Justice, M83 and Kaskade. The festival was streamed live on UMF TV as millions all over the world tuned in at all the madness. Being in Miami for a week was one of the most amazing and craziest adventures and there's a lot OC can learn from the successes of the UMF.
1. The Music - I'm not going to lie--dancing backstage near the photopit in front of 50,000 fans to Avicii's "Levels" wasn't the least shameful thing I did in Miami. But my favorite part of the festival was being able to hear non-mainstream DJs and acts enlighten me with different sounds I would never get to hear in Orange County. From the crazy dance party in the Carl Cox tent, Ibiza-like tech-house playing on the UMF Worldwide stage to the dirty dubstep going on the UMF Brazil and live stages. Discovering new music and new favorite artists is my favorite part of going to festivals!
2. The Pool/Beach Parties - Miami is home to some of the most beautiful people, and they take full advantage of this at all of their pool and beach parties! There's nothing like drinking a mojito poolside as you listen to good beats. Southern California has some of the best weather in the world and there is no reason why we shouldn't be taking full advantage of it. The "I Love Avicii Pool Party" was pretty epic Thursday at the Raleigh Hotel; I wish Madonna showed up to that one.
3. Private Yacht/Penthouse/Mansion Parties - Watching Ultra from the penthouse of a beautiful building across the street and or from behind the party on a yacht with your own private DJ was very Miami--these parties need to come to OC! These were my favorite types of showcases to hear new singles and collaborations. The private showcase overlooking Biscayne Bay where Sander Van Doorn premiered "Inside" was a unique and memorable place to hear some hard hitting bass. Fans were able to win tickets to this exclusive event via his twitter and facebook contests.
4. Free Swag - Business cards are so last year. Everyone from artists, record labels, promotion companies, agencies and etc were giving away free shirts, bikinis, bags, shades, buttons and bracelets. With all the people in attendance it was great marketing for all parties involved. The swag made for great souvenirs and photo ops to remind you of all the cool people you met over the weekend of madness.
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5. The People - One of the biggest highlights was talking to, meeting and partying with like-minded people from all of the world. Since WMC, Miami Music Week and Ultra bring in attendees from 70 different countries the opportunities to make connections, learn about new music and other festivals are endless! If only OC was as hot of a tourist spot as our neighboring LA beaches maybe we could share similar experiences.