Often seen as the curtain-raiser to the season, International Music Summit is an annual conference held in Ibiza. Uniting dance music professionals from all over the globe under one roof, IMS is a mixture of panels, workshops and parties with an aim in putting the biggest issues in our industry under the microscope. Three days of indepth analysis and seriousness are then followed by a customary one-off party in Ibiza’s old town. Before we move our focus back to the dancefloor, here are the most interesting and important bytes that emerged from the gathering.


1. Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Klas Bergling - father of the late Avicii - attended to give a brave keynote interview with Pete Tong, before being part of the discussion. In the aftermath of his son’s passing, Klas has founded the Tim Bergling Foundation that aims to tackle the blight of depression and suicide within the music industry. Addiction and substance misuse formed a large percentage of the debate, but other factors that were raised included vigorous touring schedules, career pressures amplified by social media and aggressive business decisions that took precedence over wellbeing. We all know these contributors to be true - especially in an industry that is built on foundations of hedonism, escapism and excess - but our attitudes must change if we’re to move forward and avoid more losses like Avicii and Keith Flint. Perhaps we can all make a little change for the good, in being more open and sympathetic - and elevating human needs ahead of business.


2. Community on the Dancefloor

A particularly interesting debate, given that roots of dance music can be traced back to the marginalised black and gay communities of America. Where are these representations today? The dance music environment has become increasingly intolerant, with nationalism, transphobia and sexism a regular occurance. It led London promoter and agency head Sophia Kearney to pose the question: “where is the party for everybody?” This isn’t just about high-profile incidents from artists within the scene, but something that has filtered down from society and is now very visible online and on the dancefloor. Whilst as a whole, the dance music industry may be more progressive than any others, we have seemingly strayed far from the original ethos of inclusion, acceptance and diversity. Fortunately, there are pockets of positivity to report - especially in London. Not only have promoters such as He.She.They. and Pussycat Palace haven’t just created communities that cater towards non-binary identifying clubbers, but also implemented initiatives to help tackle instances of discrimination on the dancefloor and on the way home from a night out. The reality is, that it is damning such efforts are needed in the first place. But at the very least, these movements are a step in the right direction.


3. Gender Imbalance

shesaid.so founder, Andreea Magdalina, had played a hands-on role in co-curating the panels in 2019. Having played a pivotal role in the last few editions, it was only right she again took centre stage to discuss the ongoing debate over inequality. This time, she chose to take a different angle, instead appealing to men to be the future of feminism. Specifically, she targeted men in the boardroom to open up influential positions to women and redress the imbalance. This wasn’t just a case of morality, with Andreea using data from the International Monetary Fund organisation to prove that diverse workforces deliver better economic results. She went on to say it was now “up to men to embrace these findings.” Food for thought for anybody running a business with male-heavy staff.


4. Environment Awareness

Before the conference had even begun, long-running DC10 party Circoloco had made the announcement that the venue was switching from single-use plastic water bottles to recyclable cartons. DC10 was always the one club on the island that kept the price of water at a comparatively reasonable level. Even the implementing of such an important scheme has only seen the price hike by €1 - still considerably cheaper than all of their counterparts. The onus is now on the others to follow suit, both in price as well as in sustainability. Removing plastic straws is a good start, but there is so much more we can be doing as an industry. As Vivian from Blond:ish states, we can all take “small actionable steps.” In the UK, we should look towards the likes of Junction 2. The West London festival is committed to reducing its environment impact, by striving for a carbon neutral footprint. Although this is a work in progress, the organisers have detailed the many ways in which they are improving and continuously monitoring their actions and that of their supplies. It probably isn’t going to have much bearing on where you chose to party. But for those of you attending this coming weekend, it does provide some solace that you are doing so in the company of people who do care about the wider implications of throwing a large scale event. You can learn more about this on their website.

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