Winter Music Conference‘s website hasn’t been updated in a year, the press release announcing the dates for WMC 2018 was never sent, and the company’s social media accounts are dormant. WMC isn’t happening this year. Instead of saying farewell or see you in 2019, they seem to have ghosted the global dance-music community after a 30+ year run. That’s a shame.
WMC began in 1985 in South Florida. The first installment took place February 19-21, 1986 at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott. It was attended by around 90 people and served as the template for what became an annual rite of passage for the dance-music industry.
“Our purpose was to express the power and message of dance music in clubs and on the radio,” co-founder Bill Kelly toldMiami New Times in 2015. “We wanted to share this experience on a global scale and give dance music a place in history that I feel it deserves.”
WMC attracted label types, DJs, producers, booking agents, nightclub owners, press and fans from all over the world. It became a must-attend networking industry event and its timing made for a perfect getaway from freezing cold dance-music capitals like New York, Chicago and London.Attendees paid for badges that provided access to parties, panels, and the opportunity to rub shoulders with music biz bigwigs. Factor in DJ competitions, sample packs full of swag, exhibitions, and the International Dance Music Awards (IDMAs) and it’s no wonder why thousands descended upon Magic City every March.
As dance music grew in popularity during the electronica boom of the late ’90s, WMC enjoyed steady attendance growth. By 2007, the New York Times named it “one of the most anticipated clubbing events in the country.”
Despite surviving three decades of fleeting musical trends to economic turmoil, WMC never expanded its footprint like Austin’s SXSW, another music festival held in March that diversified into film, technology, comedy, and education. While WMC won a faithful following, lucrative corporate sponsorships never really materialized. Art Basel and Miami Art Week held in January stole some of WMC’s thunder, boasting parties galore featuring the hottest DJs and electronic acts.
Cracks in WMC’s foundation began to appear in 2011. The partnership with Ultra Music Festival (which takes place at the same time in March) fizzled. That same year local club owners and promoters rebranded the marathon week of parties as Miami Music Week.
As dance-music events like ADE and IMS gained market dominance due to offering programming that better reflects a dynamic industry, WMC never reinvented itself for a second act. Subsequent years saw the line between WMC and Miami Music Week blur to the point that it was eventually viewed as a week-long amorphous party.
Winter music conference is MMW, same shit lol. But if you out there lmk what events you doin
— Dlll Official (@dlllmusic) February 23, 2018
As Winter Music Conference’s future publicly hovers in limbo, promotion for WMC 2018-branded parties and mix CDs is in full swing, with few even wondering — or even noting — that there’s no actual WMC this year.
— Faustine Pinto (@faustinepinto) February 23, 2018
— Versus 5 🇫🇷 (@iamVersus5) February 19, 2018
— Nicole Mitchell (@MitNicole) February 13, 2018
Whether the electronic music confab that inspired an annual week-long celebration can reimagine itself remains to be seen.
March 12 update: WMC announced today that it’ll hold its 33rd event 12 days from today, from March 20-22, at the Faena Forum in Miami Beach. Organizers are promising to make “a major announcement about WMC’s future.” We’ll keep you posted.