Winter Music Conference's new home is the Faena Forum in Miami Beach.
Winter Music Conference's new home is the Faena Forum in Miami Beach.
Photo by Bruce Damonte

Winter Music Conference Returns in 2019 With Ultra's Support

In the past few years, New Times has been critical of the direction the once-revered Winter Music Conference was headed. The issues went beyond the squabble organizers had with Ultra Music Festival in 2010. WMC's problems stemmed from its failure to evolve and stay ahead of dance-music trends. If you want to be the voice of authority on a subject, you should wholeheartedly command it — something WMC failed to do once EDM became one of the buzziest music genres around.

It also didn't help that events at South by Southwest began incorporating dance music into well-respected music panels. The SXSW brand is so strong it seemed like musicians, producers, and industry folks were abandoning WMC in droves.

However, last year the conference dropped a bombshell when it announced it had been acquired by Ultra's parent company, Ultra Worldwide. Though the 2000s heyday of Ultra and WMC existing independently yet working together can be looked back on nostalgically, the partnership makes sense. With audiences and resources becoming scarcer, WMC will benefit from Ultra's marketing prowess and built-in fan base. Plus, Ultra can gently nudge performers into making appearances at the conference.

If you're interested in witnessing WMC's renaissance firsthand, organizers have announced its return as a four-day conference March 25 through 28, 2019, at the Faena Forum in Miami Beach. The dates smartly skip the weekend, when most artists and producers will be in the thick of party mayhem, while also avoiding any overlap with SXSW, which is scheduled to wrap up March 18.

The conference is also adapting by offering two segments: WMC Industry and WMC Access. The former is meant for industry professionals and promises plenty of networking opportunities, while the latter gives fans and amateur musicians and producers a chance to learn more about dance music and its culture.

“After 34 years, we’ve reached a major point in the evolution of WMC," cofounder Bill Kelly says in a news release. "Attendees will experience expertly curated panels with key music professionals, cutting-edge mixers, mentorship moments, and endless opportunities to share up-to-the-minute technology."

In addition to business talk, back in the '90s and '00s, a WMC badge was basically an all-access pass to many of the parties happening around town. No word if Ultra will reach out to local nightclubs and promoters about extending that privilege to badge-holders again.

Industry folks can submit an application to attend the conference at wintermusicconference.com, and those interested in the Access badge can purchase tickets for $150. (Expect the price to increase as the date nears.)

Winter Music Conference 2019. Monday, March 25, through Thursday, March 28, at Faena Forum, 3300 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-8800; faena.com. Tickets cost $150 via wintermusicconference.com.

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