Zev Norotsky On the Launch of New Electronic Dance Music and DJ Magazine “Elektro”

Electronic music has changed nightlife forever, for better…for worse. It has made DJ’s rock stars, strange and remote places destinations, and has filled clubs and stadiums. It’s inspired Woodstockian festivals. It has defined, along with mash up/mixed format, a renaissance in nightlife. When clubs were going through their doldrums just a few years back, it was argued that there had not been a new genre of music to lead us out of the boredom. Mixed format combined other genres and was considered by some to be a sort of wishy-washy sound for the musically-challenged masses. DJs like AM certainly shattered that misconception. Electronic was lumped in as a progression of house and not much new. This has proven to be an inadequate description of the sound that has swept the world. Many DJs I have spoken to speak of how it has united people worldwide, as superstar DJs play for hundreds of thousands, from Asia to South America.

Zev Norotsky formerly of Mirrorball and Get There PR, has joined Harris Publications as president of its H360 Group. They are launching elektro, a new magazine…
"[It’s] geared toward electronic dance music/DJ fans… elektro’s mission is to take you behind the turntables and into the lives of DJs, sharing their passion for the music, giving fans an all-access backstage pass. From Tiesto’s sold-out gig, to David Guetta’s new album and the Swedish House Mafia’s unreleased track, elektro will show you the tools to make the music and the lifestyle they live. Electronic music is now the fastest-growing genre in music. DJs are the new rock stars and are selling out arenas around the world. elektro brings you face- to-face with the fans that attend these events, along with powerful marketing solutions including print, online, and experiential activations at sold-out shows and festivals across the globe."
Tiesto is on the first issue’s cover. It will come out quarterly. I sent Zev a few questions (electronically of course) and got these answers:
 
What is elektro?
elektro is a new platform for electronic dance music enthusiasts to learn about DJ culture and their favorite artists and producers. It’s definitely much more than a magazine as we have also built in a comprehensive digital ecosystem and a large special event calendar for 2012 to round out our presence nationwide. This includes our online hub at www.elektrodaily.com, very active social media engagement, and strategic partnerships with Spotify, future.fm, mixcloud etc. We will also be distributed at all the large festivals including Ultra and Electric Daisy in New York and Las Vegas, etc.
 
You have been a promoter/marketing guy;  is elektro an exit strategy…a way out of nightlife’s day-to-day, er… night-to-night, or a natural progression and a deeper commitment?
I must refer to a quote from Steve Jobs where he said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards." I got my start in nightlife very early working the doors at Limelight and Kit Kat Klub when I was in college, striking out a few times on my own and eventually landing with Eddie Dean at Pacha NYC.  Nightlife is my absolute passion and I like to say that I got my Masters following Eddie around as we launched the Pacha brand in America. That was, by far, the most valuable experience of my life as I learned not only the importance of branding and guidelines, but also how vital nightlife can be to the world of marketing and how strong the connection is between consumers and brands. I have been jumping up and down on corporate board room tables for the last four or five years, begging brand managers to pay attention to what’s going on in electronic dance music (EDM) and people are finally paying attention. It’s an amazing feeling and now I have elektro to make sense of it all. I never could have imagined this starting out but when I look back it all makes perfect sense.
 
Everybody in the world is going electronic..or is it elektronic… as online is more and more the way people want it…why print?
We are very in tune with the digital space. I actually moderated a panel a few weeks back during Social Media Week based on a theory that the explosion of EDM in America is intrinsically tied to social media; that’s why we have created an extensive online presence across every single medium there is for us to share content. We are curating playlists with Spotify, streaming from events with future.fm, YouTube, Instagram, etc., you name it. The honest answer is you need everything to succeed and we take a 360 approach here. The sweet spot for me is how everything connects from the live events, the social media, and the print piece. That gives us maximum leverage as both an editorial property and a marketing vehicle for brands.
 
How did Tiesto become your first cover boy?
This was such a no-brainer for me; he is arguably the most iconic DJ of all time and truly personifies how far dance music has come in America, from the initial burst in late ’90s, to now. I literally made a mock-up of elektro about a year ago with him on the cover to show my partners what I look at every day to remind me how this all started.
 
It’s a quarterly; will there be events to celebrate each issue at various clubs around the world? Will the cover boy be the DJ? Will the distribution of the magazine at these events be a huge part of the marketing strategy?
Absolutely. We are gearing up for a massive launch during Miami Music Week. In addition to a private launch party with Roger Sanchez that we are hosting for the industry on Thursday, March 22 at The Setai, we are going to be distributed in the VIP section at Ultra, are an official media partner of Winter Music Conference, and will be hosting events all week at the National Hotel, Villa221, Mansion, as well as a big in-store event with Guess Jeans on Saturday 3/24. We’re also working on an official launch party in New York on April 14th at Pacha NYC which will be a sort of homecoming for me I guess, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

The Launch of the New & Enhanced Thefuture.fm: Founder/CEO David Stein Speaks

I am completely weak from Fashion Week pressures and some new tattoos…plus, I’m moving a little to the left of Brooklyn, toward Bushwick. Today I’m going to chat about Thefuture.fm which is "a patent-pending fingerprinting and rights tracking technology, which is the first ever turn-key solution to the legal monetization of DJ mixes, podcasts and mix tapes.” Are you still with me?

David Stein, who you used to hang out with the smart set at my smart clubs and even some smarter ones, is the founder and CEO of this internet radio platform. According to the press release, David founded Thefuture.fm "in an effort to allow festival-goers and club kids to relive the experiences created by the world’s best DJs on a daily basis, while discovering emerging music along the way. His passion to help DJs legally promote and monetize their music came when he realized the monumental challenges and setbacks of rights flow for mixed audio." You still here?

He used to book talent atthose smart clubs, and has a unique grasp on who’s-who and what’s hot. Now he’s gone digital. In April he launched an iPhone app, which is “the first to solve the industry’s long-standing copyright issue associated with mixed audio,” by accurately identifying the content of mixed audio. Thefuture.fm’s will also experience a complete overhaul of their platform, making it easy for users to revisit mega DJ performances, club events, and learn about future performances by their favorite DJ/performer. At launch, subscriptions will be free, with near-term plans for revenue streams in premium mobile and brand-supported offerings. Over 5000 DJs will participate.

I caught up with David Stein awhile back and asked him all about it.

Is this basically Pandora with really great DJs?
Thefuture.fm is basically internet radio, curated by the best DJs in the world. And we enable DJs to upload their mixed tapes to the platform and let their fans access them and listen to them via the platform on the web and via mobile on our iPhone application. It’s sort of the first-ever legal kind of entity to allow for this to happen. Really, the core of our business is that we’re a music technology business; we’re focused around this concept of how do we legally, scale-ably, and effectively monetize and extract value out of long-format music content? If you know the history of a mixed tape and the DJ industry, you know there’s never really been a solution in terms of how to compensate the individual artist and copyright holders whose music is being used and played by DJs. So we exist to solve that problem. And we create technology, IP tools, around that concept. It’s really the core of why thefuture.fm is able to be a legal internet radio that is curated by these mixed tapes.

The first, and really the basis of that business, is a technology and a concept that we created called Mix Scan. Mix Scan is a fingerprinting and rights core management tool specifically around long-format contract – mixed tapes, podcasts, live streams – that DJs make and play. Like Shazam on steroids. The way that it works is a DJ will upload a mix tape to our platform and we’ll run it through our algorithm of our software and we’ll pull as much metadata as we can so we’ll learn every artist, song, sample, song length – we know when one song ends and when one song begins. We timestamp that music file and create a unique set of metadata for the entire media file. That enables us to accurately cross reference against our analytics so we know every time within our eco system, our platform, each song gets played. Then we automate the report, these entities that exist to pay out to copyright holders. SoASCAP, BMI, etc… so that’s really the basis of how we operate a legal internet radio. We’ve been sort of operating as a free service while we build out our monetization models and we’re soon going to be launching pretty revolutionary ways where DJs can, for the first time ever, legally make money off of their mixes and podcasts. Who are some of the DJs that you’re involved with?
We represent music from 8,000 different DJs across all genres: From Bounce FX and DJ Scribble to your Mel Debarge and Cassidy, to your Dead Mau5, Tiesto, Skrillex. It’s all-encompassing. And it’s everything – rock, hip hop, dance…

So a person gets on and they have a choice, like Pandora, of different genres of music?
Yes, the platform is two-fold so you can get on the platform and get featured content that’s exclusive to the platform across all the genres. Or you can type in any DJ that you know you want to hear and we’ll give you all of their mixed tapes within their own profile. Or you can type in a song or an artist that isn’t a DJ and we’ll give you mixes that have those songs in them.

Are we going to see this in stores, trendy boutiques, hotel lobbies? Or in individual homes?
Well, the service and the platform is built for personal use, but people who aren’t supposed to be using it use it for whatever reasons they want. Eventually we hope to roll out services that are specific for business services, music-filing, those sorts of things.

Are you doing profiles on your DJs or feature DJs, stories about these guys, who they are, and why they’re important as well?
There are unique cases where we’ll cover DJs on our blog, but primarily it’s just the content. It’s mixes that you can’t really find anywhere else up on one platform. And it’s a combination of us allowing DJs to upload content themselves and then us partnering with different venues, nightclubs, and festivals and acquiring that content and then featuring it on the home page.

You used the word upload. Are you going to be able to download? If I hear something that’s pretty amazing and I want to be able to feel that DJ Thursday night, am I going to be able to download it?

There’s no downloading on the platform yet. It’s a streaming-only service and we abide by these rules that have been set in place by the copyright law that enables us to be a compliant web factor, and that means that we’re restricted to streaming only. It’s the only way that we can really quantify the function of the actual tracks within mixes.

But companies like Amazon and iTunes would love for you to link to them. Is that something you do?
Yes, so because we know what songs are in the mixes, there’s a pretty great discovery component to it. You’re able to learn and discover new music from your favorite DJ and you can see what songs you’re listening to. 

Now all these DJs, including me, have management. If I’m listening to Mel Debarge, which you mentioned before as one of yours, does it refer you to his management? If someone’s saying “Wow, I’m listening to this at my home but I want him to play at my Christmas party, this guy is unbelievable,” is there added value like that?
Yes, there’s absolutely added value in that regard. We’re not looking to be a middleman and block interaction. You can put, as a DJ, any contact information you like. But on the back end, we get requests from different brands, different platforms, different websites, blogs, Eater, Curb, TechCrunch, to name a few, that we work with really closely in booking DJs that are on our platform – the right DJ for their event. And all we do is facilitate an introduction. It’s part of that added value we bring to the DJs that we work with what’s on our platform.Is there a comment, for instance, of your clients? Can they rate a mix and say this one’s great, this one’s 94%, this one’s 70%?
There’s no percentage, but there is a “like” mechanism. We’re very against, “Oh, we don’t like this mix.” If you like it you click the “like” or “favorite” button. There’s mixes with hundreds of thousands of favorites on them.

How many people do you think it’s gonna reach? Give me some numbers and goals.
So we’ve been operating and have gained a pretty substantial user base solely on the love of the DJ and their bands. We were primarily working within this context of the DJ and the brand and the different magazines and entities that have visibility on our profile as our evangelists. They promote themselves to their fans via our platform and then we show love back by promoting them via our own page.

Theoretically, if someone likes Mel Debarge as an example again, they come in and listen to what Mel Debarge has posted on your site, and while they’re there, they’re exposed to other DJs.

How do you put these DJs in categories, so that Mel is near, let’s say, Cassidy or far away from Steve Lewis so that the person coming in can see things that are similar?
It’s categorized by genre but specific to the individual mix, not the DJ.

There’s a great difference between DJ Tiesto and, let’s say, Frankie Knuckles.
100 percent.

So how does a person find exactly what they’re interested in, without having to randomly explore?
At the highest level, the mixes are tagged by specific genres that are pretty broad in scope. All the sub-genres of house music, EDM, sub-genres of hip-hop, sub-genres of rock. On a more granular level, if you’re looking to hear specific songs or specific sounds within a genre – a search for rock ‘n’ roll, for example – you could type in Prince or “Bohemian Rhapsody” and you would get mixes that have those types of songs in them.

How Birthday Boy and Strategic Group’s Jonathan Schwartz Stays On Top

When I was king of the castle, people were always surprised that I did any "day" work for my nightlife career. They actually believed I woke up at 4pm, had a swanky brunch, went to a boutique, bought a dozen expensive looks (on the cheap), had dinner at the best place in town (on the cuff), and then showed up at work (game-face on), barked some orders, and waited for the fabulous to show up. Nightlife doesn’t just happen. The few that make it look easy are the ones that rarely sleep and are completely enveloped in their work. It’s a thousand phone calls, a million texts, tweets, tumbles, and face-to-face meetings – yes, people still do that. It’s adjustments of what ain’t working, and refining of what ain’t broke. It’s a thousand small things that add up to big bucks at the end of the year. You are never alone, but you often feel isolated and detached. My ex used to say that when I opened a club, it was as if I was its heart and I had to keep beating or it would simply not work. An old adage that I always kept close said, "It’s not just a nightclub…but a way of life.”

Jonathan Schwartz is doing it, and doing it, and doing it well for the biggest game in town: Strategic Group. He is having his birthday tonight at Lavo, naturally. A super-duper, uber-secret DJ is promised. Since I DJ on Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle, I gave Jonathan my birthday wishes. I still haven’t figured out how to be in two places at the same time.

I caught up with the young Jedi Master and asked him all about it.

First of all, happy birthday. You are celebrating at Lavo… Tell me about the reason behind that choice of venue and what I might find if I could attend.
Hey Steve, Thank you for the birthday wishes, always good catching up with the man who’s seen it all AKA MR. Lewis! Ha. Celebrating my birthday at Lavo NY tonight because I think it’s the most well-rounded venue in NYC right now, and for me, it’s my Cheers. The venue delivers on hospitality, with great service, lighting, and sound, Top DJ talent such as Avicii, Calvin Harris, Tiesto, and Nicky Romero, and international crowd, image, special effects, and much more.

With that said, I can’t think of a better place to invite my oldest and newest friends to celebrate another year as the summer approaches. Thursday night you will find NYC’s elite and, what we all know as "the industry" crowd, along with friends looking to let loose to great music and champagne.

What is your role with Strategic Group and what is a typical day/night like?
My role at Strategic Group is head of nightlife marketing and programming,
My day-to-day consists of:

10am: in the office (working on promotions, talent-buying, concepts for nights, and working with my co-workers Rich Thomas and Andrew Goldberg to help curate the venues we call home (Lavo, Avenue, Dream Downtown, Marquee, Artichoke). Anything I can do on a given day to better the overall business, that’s my goal. As of late, much of my focus has been on our DJ line-up at Lavo NY –  not only booking an act, but making sure it’s the right date is equally as important.
Noon: take a few meetings, coffee, lunch, meet with people for future business and ideas.
2pm: staff meetings
3pm: payroll (make sure promoters/DJs I am responsible for are being paid properly and on time).
4pm: outreach, touch base with people, connect, reconnect.
6pm: what am I doing tonight…make plans for a given evening. I know I’ll always be with my close crew, but who do we want to let in that night to join us?
Dinner: host a dinner and go out to our venues. My favorite nights to go out are Thursdays at Lavo, and Tuesday’s new house music night at Avenue.
12:15am: arrive to club, host important guests (could be DJs), someone looking for a BIG night out, and my friends.
4am: go home (maybe stop at Artichoke pizza on the way, ha).Go through my phone and make sure I replied to everyone for that day – both business and personal. Always try to be accessible and available.
530am: SLEEP

Tell me about the Hamptons.
For the past eight years, I’ve spent a lot of time out in the Hamptons. Last summer was a very successful summer for me personally, as well as for the team I worked with out there.

I will decide about this coming season after my birthday. The Hamptons are filled with mostly the same faces year in and year out which is what I love most about it; it’s comfortable, and you know people on a very personal level.

I’m looking forward to deciding where my Hamptons outpost will be this coming 2012 season and letting people know next week, but I do know I’ll be spending a lot of time at the Stadium Red Estate house as much as I can, as I love the events my close friends Claude and Lee throw there.

How did you get into the biz and where are you headed with it?
I got into the business on a small scale when I was a junior in college. My three best friends and I started promoting parties over the summers when we were home and on winter breaks. We simply would invite our friends, and it started to escalate quickly, from 100 people, to 300, to 800 people. They eventually went on to finance and internet marketing, and I decided to stick with the hospitality business.

Post-college, I went on to direct promotions for former venues Manor and Arena before meeting Noah Tepperberg and joining the Strategic Hospitality Group family four years ago.

Today, I focus most of my time on Strategic Group and Tao/Lavo group venues, the Hamptons, and my most recent passion: Bounce Music Festival. The Festival is a college music festival touring company that brings some of the biggest acts into college towns. The most recent show was in Bloomington, Indiana for what’s known as Little 500 weekend, featuring Tiesto, Alesso, Tim Mason, and Topher Jones. My partners, Brandon Silverstein and Jared Lyons, are juniors at Indiana University and you will be interviewing them in years to come, I am sure!

Future plans are in the works since everyday something new gets thrown my direction. I’m always moving forward, never being stagnant. The hospitality industry is about staying ahead of the curve, finding trends before they occur, and putting my personal twist on them. With that, I have some fun ideas I’m working on bringing to life that I believe people want to experience.

Our Man in Miami: Tiësto on His New Clothing Line CLVB LIFE

Being one of the world’s Top 3 DJs apparently isn’t enough for Tiësto; nor is cranking out smash tracks with the likes of Steve Aoki, Diplo and Kaskade. Because now the Dutchman has expanded his Club Life brand to include clothing. Yes, the line’s called the CLVB LIFE, and it precedes Tiesto’s own same-named Sirius FM radio station, which launches in early 2012. BlackBook got with the crowd-pleaser and asked him to fill us in.

Can you tell us a bit about the CLVB LIFE line?
Sure, the CLVB LIFE line is a selection of high-end men’s and women’s t-shirts designed for and inspired by the world of electronic music. It is the first line to give the EDM world a voice in the fashion world.

What made you come get into gear?
It is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, especially after having traveled the world on tour and noticed how important style is to my fans. Also, as someone who follows fashion really closely, I was really keen to get creative in that world as well as music.

Where can folks find the threads?
They are available on clublifeclothing.com and at a number of excellent independent retailers throughout the US and Canada, including Atrium, Blooomingdales, Kitson, Simons and quite a few others. It’s great that the line is available initially in these tastemaker retailers.

Any plans to expand that availability even further?
The reaction from retail has been really good, so if we feel like a new shop approaching us is the kind of place where the line would work, then why not! I’d like the line to be as successful as possible.

Isn’t there also a same-named radio station?
Club Life is brand I’ve created which encapsulates a number of elements, from my radio show and podcast, to my touring brand (this year we the Club Life College Invasion tour went to 18 colleges around the US and ended with me playing to 26k in Los Angeles), compilation series and now the CLVB LIFE clothing range. We’ll be adding more sides to Club Life next year.

What else should we know about Tiesto before you go-go?
Well, I’ve had a busy few weeks with the announcement and launch of the clothing line as well as the news that I’m going to be starting my own radio station on Sirius XM in 2012. On the the music front I’ve had a really busy year. To finish it off I’ve just done a remix of the Mission: Impossible theme tune for the new film. With a new album, a second line for CLVB LIFE clothing and much more, 2012 is already looking like my busiest year ever!

Tiësto will perform his new single at the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Rio premiere, which you can stream here this Wednesday.