Today Ultra Music Festival marketing manager Albert Berdellans announced the festival's acquisition of Winter Music Conference during a news conference aboard the yacht SeaFair, docked next to the festival site at Bayfront Park.
In attendance was Winter Music Conference cofounder Bill Kelly. "It's been in the works for a couple of years," Kelly says. "I've been biting my tongue."
According to Kelly, it's a natural merger of the entertainment and business aspects provided by Ultra and WMC.
The news will no doubt surprise many in the dance music industry, given the past ten years of bad blood between the two entities.
For the past decade, Ultra has ballooned into a behemoth, eclipsing WMC, the annual dance music industry event that brought people to Miami every March from all over the world. The influx proved to be a valuable asset for the then-fledgling festival, because DJs and electronic acts were already in town for the conference and available for booking.
In 2010, after ten years of coexisting happily, Ultra and WMC had a falling-out. It involved plenty of finger-pointing, but ultimately, it was unclear exactly why the two entities dissolved their symbiotic relationship. From the outside, it was obvious Ultra's brand had grown so big it no longer needed WMC to attract superstar acts.
Today's announcement marks an end to the rivalry. Ultra said it would buy WMC and "reboot" it.
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According to Kelly, he still considers himself the conference's brand ambassador, and Ultra will look for his input moving forward. The merger also means that conferences at other Ultra events around the globe are possible. "It's a good opportunity to involve other regions of the world," Kelly says.
Details on the merger are scant, but Kelly says the deal also includes a three-year contract with Faena Forum, this year's location of the conference, to host the industry event.
At the news conference, Berdellans also announced Ultra would expand to China, where a festival would take place this year in Beijing.
Winter Music Conference 2018. Through Thursday, March 22, at Faena Forum, 3300-3398 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; faena.com. Tickets cost $249 at the door.