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The state of Ibiza in 2019

Big talking points at IMS 2019 Day Three.

Starting the day with one of the most contentious debates, we descended on Hard Rock Hotel for the final day of discussion. It was clear from the off that the final day of International Music Summit (IMS) 2019 would throw in some juicy soundbites.

Given the participants involved, the potentially volatile Great Annual Ibiza Debate was first on the agenda followed by Cocoon20. Not long after breakfast, we absorbed ourselves into the conversation.

Here's what leading professionals within the industry had to say.

The changing face of Ibiza's musical identity

Alluding to the growth of the Latin market, moderator Mark Netto first asked for opinions on the diversity of parties available on the island. DJ, Ibiza Global Radio GM and born-and-bred islander Anna Tur, seemed to welcome the emergence of new music scenes.

"Ibiza needs variety. I think it's important to respect each other('s tastes)" – Anna Tur

Agoria was honest in his broad tastes - no suggestion of any elitism here. Those who have had the pleasure of hearing his Drift album will surely agree.

Sometimes I want to listen to Rihanna, sometimes I want to listen to Aphex Twin. It's who I am.” – Agoria

Paradise head promoter, Nick Yates, didn't seem to agree with the suggestion that there was much variety at all.

“I do feel there's a lot of repetition. There's an awful lot of the same kind of music. The same DJs at the same venues. Back in the day, you had Tiesto and others. It just felt like there was more choice.” – Nick Yates

Of course, it wasn't so long ago when things were very different from now - in 1999 for instance.

In '99 the techno sound was quite new in Ibiza. We didn't have many followers (outside of Germans).” – Sven Väth

Back then, Ibiza was a no-go area for mainland Spaniards. In the 90s, it was ruled by the English promoters and not for the Spanish clubbing kids. It was not a cool place to go (for them). We opened up the market for them.” – Johannes Goller

President of Ibiza's Leisure Association, José Corraliza, was rather more optimistic about all that Ibiza's nightlife can offer compared to other holiday destinations.

We are ahead of the game.” – José Corraliza

Finding balance within the island's ecosystem

Sometimes it can feel as if the industry is at odds with other stakeholders on the island. Often, we see an apparent conflict between tourists, residents and the authorities. A delicate topic that people have strong opinions on, the important thing is to respect the perspective of others.

Nick was clear in his take that the government is keen to take, without willing to negotiate mutual terms:

I believe that the government is sucking the life and soul out of the island's nightlife. There's too much politics involved.” – Nick Yates

Anna Tur concurred, saying “There is no dialogue between the industry and the government.” But she was also quick to point our own shortcomings. “The industry is cannibalising itself.” Let's not cut off our nose to spite our face.

José Corraliza had a more sympathetic approach, indicating that the industry should show more willingness to listen to the concerns of island residents.

It's not about prohibition. If something is disruptive, let's correct it. The business needs to take care of the island.” – José Corraliza

The cult of the DJ

A hot topic, given the news, Mark Netto put It's All About the Music promoter Ernesto Senatore on the spot with a probing question about artist exclusivity. To his credit - and perhaps not liable to say too much - Ernesto stayed diplomatic on the subject.

Yes… thank you (!) (All scenarios) are possible. Both the artist, promoter and venue must take responsibility. But it's not correct to steal a DJ from another club.”

Mark seemed to have a degree of empathy.

It's an interesting dilemma. When I was at Pacha, there was an association of discos that got together to try and stop clubs from poaching other venues' talent.” – Mark Netto

Unsurprisingly, the conversation made the natural progression to the desire for DJs to hold their own residency. Juan Arnau Jr, elrow CEO, had seen a change in power in recent years.

In the past, DJs wanted to play at Amnesia or Pacha or wherever. DJs themselves are the brands now. Before the club owners used to control it, but now it's the DJs who have the power.” – Juan Arnau Jr.

No doubt referencing the success of parties such as Circoloco, ANTS and elrow, chair Mark Netto has observed a shift in promoters' tactics.

Fewer and fewer nights are being built around a big name or record label.” – Mark Netto

Ernesto tapped into a consensus that the same core of established artists appears to wield all of the power for the past few years.

We use our radio show to showcase new artists and build them up. We just need the courage to put these new artists in front (of everyone).” - Ernesto Senatore

Cocoon's Johannes Goller was quick to dismiss the cult of the superstar DJ later in the day.

It's more than just the DJ who makes a good party. You need the right venue and the right people on the dance floor.” – Johannes Goller

The rising cost of Ibiza

For decades, the price of club tickets and drinks at the bar has always been more than other holiday destination. Yet there's little doubt increased hotel and flight costs have started to price out the younger generation.

Highly animated, Nick Yates was passionate in his criticism on the current playing field.

Speaking for the average clubber who comes here, the costs are extortionate. They can't afford it. A holiday costs £2-3 grand. It's absolutely crazy. I know people who used to come three or four times a year. Now they can scarcely afford to come once.” – Nick Yates

Somewhat damningly, Mark Netto saw an area where often feuding competitors found common ground.

The only times we see collaboration between the clubs is when one puts their prices up and the others follow suit.” – Mark Netto

Injecting some much needed comic relief, Agoria even managed to sneak in a plug for his new Drift residency at Blue Marlin.

The good thing is that Blue Marlin is free – you're all invited!” – Agoria

Refreshingly, Agoria was quick to point out that he is not alone and that many of his peers share the same philosophy.

I called my friends and told them, 'It's free, so there is not much budget'. But they all want to play the game. It shows that it's not all about the money.” – Agoria

Later in the day, new Pacha CEO Nick McGabe, skewed the rhetoric on VIP culture, suggesting that this clientele helped subsidise the experience for everybody else.

I don't see it as detrimental to the dance floor. It's part of the business that we're in. The people in the VIP have as much passion for the music as the people on the dance floor. They're just in a different economic situation. They're looking for an experience that is different.”

Summing up

With all of the panellist delivering so much to digest, it can be difficult to make any conclusive analysis. Therefore, we're leaving it down to them to sign off on another interesting conference.

We are touring in about 20 countries for the last few years. But there's nowhere on Earth like Ibiza. It has got everything.” – Juan Arnau Jr., CEO

Politics aside. For me, Ibiza is the most magical place in the world. You always get butterflies. You can always rely on Ibiza to bring you back up.” – Nick Yates, Promoter

In my opinion, it's too much nowadays. Once we were friends, now we are competitors. A long time ago, there was no tension. It was just easy. That has changed.” - Sven Väth, Artist

If this industry collapses; then the island will collapse. There has to be a plan for (the future).” – José Corraliza, President

We are all Ibiza lovers. There is this expectation. When I got here and I saw all the people, I was waiting for the magic to happen again.” – Agoria, Artist

Now, that's enough talk... for the time being. It's time to head to Dalt Vila and party in the open air at the IMS Grand Finale.

See you on that open-air dance floor.

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