Winter Music Conference

Following Ultra's Cancellation, Winter Music Conference Makes Its Fate Known

Concern over coronavirus has led to Winter Music Conference's cancellation.
Concern over coronavirus has led to Winter Music Conference's cancellation. Photo courtesy of Winter Music Conference
Perhaps it was only a matter of time, but after last week's announcement that the City of Miami would not let Ultra Music Festival go forward, today's notice that Winter Music Conference (WMC) too was effectively canceled didn't come as much of a surprise.

WMC announced earlier today that because of Florida's declaration of a public health emergency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, it was "rescheduling" the conference's 35th edition.

"After spending the past ten months preparing for the event with our team, panelists and event partners, we are profoundly disappointed; however, there is nothing more important than the health, safety, and physical well-being of our attendees and employees," the statement read.

The conference was originally set to take place Tuesday, March 17, through Thursday, March 19. Some of the more prominent names scheduled to speak were Josh Wink, Tommie Sunshine, Seth Troxler, and Danny Daze. (South by Southwest, a similar but larger event in Austin, Texas, was also canceled last week.)

Ultra took over WMC in 2018 following years of decline. Although the gathering is what birthed Ultra and Miami Music Week at large, it had become a more esoteric seminar that stood in stark contrast to the dance music bacchanal of Ultra and the spring-break atmosphere of the week's events. WMC began in 1985 as dance music artists, executives, innovators, and amateurs looking to break into the business came together to take part in panels, workshops, and discussions.

As WMC's popularity peaked in the 1990s, Ultra's cofounders Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes took advantage of DJs and electronic acts from around the world visiting Miami during March to start a music festival. In 1999, the first Ultra Music Festival was held on the sands of Miami Beach near Collins Park. The festival would go on to eclipse WMC in terms of importance: DJs were no longer flocking to Miami for the conference but for the lucrative gigs at Ultra and surrounding events.

When Ultra took over the conference in 2018, WMC was effectively on life support. The 2019 edition was the first time WMC fell completely under Ultra's control, and it may have been one of the better-attended conferences in a long time.

WMC says it will contact to ticketholders soon.

Despite Ultra and WMC’s absence this year, Miami Music Week and the chaos surrounding it seem to be moving full steam ahead. So far, the only party that has announced a cancellation is Damian Lazarus' Get Lost, which was scheduled to take place at an unknown location in Hialeah. However, that city has banned any public gathering owing to coronavirus.

Still, the City of Miami Beach insists it remains open to tourists, and it seems like revelers still plan to flock to the area for seven days of nonstop dance music.
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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran