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Ultra Music Festival acquires the Winter Music Conference

By | Published on Friday 23 March 2018

Winter Music Conference

The Ultra Music Festival has acquired the dance music focused Winter Music Conference, the two events having sat side-by-side in Miami for nearly two decades now, in more recent years as key components of Miami Music Week. The announcement was made on the second day of this year’s WMC, which until very recently was not expected to go ahead at all.

Speaking at a press conference, UMF’s Albert Berdellans said: “Winter Music Conference will represent a place for the music industry to develop professionally. [It] will allow veterans and newcomers alike to develop themselves and their organisations to become competitive players in the industry”.

He added that the deal is “a significant victory for Miami in general as well”, saying that they are “very excited to contribute to the vision of Miami as a hub of entertainment, culture and business”. WMC co-founder Bill Kelly will stay on to oversee the running of the conference.

Launched in 1985, WMC aimed to attract dance music’s big players down to Miami’s warmer weather during the winter months. Then in 1999 the Ultra festival launched, initially as a one-day event, the day after WMC, aiming to capitalise on all the DJing talent already in town. The two events then happily co-existed side-by-side for a decade, Ultra growing to become a major three day event.

However, in 2010 there was a falling out, when WMC shifted its dates and Ultra did not follow suit. In part, it seemed that there was anger that Ultra was forcing DJs to sign exclusivity contracts, which prohibited them from performing at the numerous club nights linked to WMC.

Earlier this year, people began questioning why no WMC had been announced for 2018. As recently as the beginning of this month, journalists were pronouncing it dead. But then, with less than ten days to go, it was announced that the normally week long event would occupy the three days preceding this year’s Ultra – which starts today.

Commenting on the decision to sell up, Kelly said: “A couple years ago, we revisited the idea of coming together [with Ultra]. At that point the Amsterdam Dance Event and International Music Summit in Ibiza had formed over the course of the last five years or so … Over the years, the significance of WMC slightly diminished because of those. So to bring [attention] back to Miami, this acquisition was necessary”.

At the same time, Ultra – which has launched all sorts of sister editions around the world over the last decade – also announced a new festival in China, Ultra Beijing, which will take place in June.