Winter Music Conference Faded Away While You Were Prepping for Miami Music Week [Updated]

Winter Music Conference logo

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.

WMC panel

WMC artist panel, 2009. Image via Facebook.

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.

WMC-2014

WMC 2014 pool party. Image by Kathy Vitkus.

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.

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.

Brand new #Techno compilation
“WMC 2018” Included my track Statik.
Available now on @beatport .
Check it out: https://t.co/eOnlWK5VH2pic.twitter.com/HXfHAdHL0m

I might go to @saltedmusic at Salted Music WMW/WMC 2018 in Miami, FL – Mar 23 https://t.co/tRmcufVUEa

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.

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12 Comments

  1. The great thing about writing a eulogy is being able to read it and realize that you’re not dead. Excuse me while I put my new suit on; see ya’ll soon! WMC lives on… stay “real” tuned. ❤️

  2. I’m delighted to say I’m a WMC veteran for the past 14 years as a participant and as well as behind the scenes production, and have seen their full on dedication through out the years, I’m looking forward to New News as they develop! on the new birth of WMC ! <3

  3. Haters always gonna be Haters.
    They tried so many imitations and fake informations in all those years that I lived in Miami, but never succeed (and they never will).
    YOU CAN’T MOVE A MOUNTAIN!
    The truth is that it always was, is , and always gonna be, only 1 :
    WINTER MUSIC CONFERENCE!

    33 YEARS BABY!

  4. Tell the children Big Papa. It may be time to #takebackthescene we gifted them 30+ years ago. Call upon us to help carry the torch. Let’s do this!

  5. My first time to Miami was in 1986. First time on a plane actually. The Miami Bass/Freestyle era was awesome to be a part of. I been down 16 more times since, WMC was always well respected and it went out with a bang. MMW will hold the torch for years to come.

  6. WMC was kidnapped, raped, then left on the side of the road, naked, by the commercial, cake-throwing spring break shit show that is Ultra music fest. Long live WMC….

  7. art basal has nothing to do with conference. theres no impact competition or stealing audience or spotlight. get your facts straight

  8. Never missed a year from 85- 2007. First few were good (Ft Laud) in the fact that we would all fly into FT Laud and spend the next few days hanging out, doing business, since we would all stay at the host hotel. Got better when it went to the Fountainbleau in Mia Beach- you would need to get to the pool bar by 9am to get a good table and we would hold those tables like NYC real estate lol! IMO, those were the best years as almost everyone spent the day at the conference, some of us straggling in later than others, but always making sure to make an appearance and swing by the pool bar.
    To me, once the Ultra Fest started and the conference got too popular, it lost it’s flavor. Bill & the crew always did their best and were great hosts, but as with every good event/venue/location, once the word gets out to those outside of the industry and the events get too spread out, it’s time to move on. I wish WMC the best, they played an important and memorable part of my life.

  9. Well said!!! The commercial industry has destroyed WMC, and I hate to say it the same thing is going to happen or is happening to Art Basel.

  10. Big shout to Darren Ressler for continuing to being the champion that he is in reporting the best music news you’ll ever read. Good article. WMC helped me connect to the best DJ’s and industry people in the world. I learned so much musically just going there every year. It was the go to destination. Yes it’s gone, and wasn’t the same in the end, but I look and celebrate the body of work this event did. Dance music never would have achieved it’s full potential without this yearly gathering. Countless records were broken and collaborations that happened here changed the landscape of this music. WMC is the pioneer that birthed many things. Everyone who was a part of WMC should be happy that what started out as a small gathering made its lasting impact that can never be overlooked.

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