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,"
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.