The Man Behind The Music

Image: IRDeep via Spin

Image: IRDeep via Spin

Spin magazine has an interview with Opulent Temple founder Syd Gris. Some highlights:

The organizers behind Burning Man deny any affiliations of being a “music festival,” but, for all intents and purposes, this is the wildest music festival in the world.

The denial of their identity as a music festival lets Burning Man rely heavily on crowdsourcing the 24-hour, over-the-top productions, visuals, DJ booths, sound equipment, and world-class music performances to ticket holders…

Attendees being responsible for their own entertainment is exactly what separates Burning Man from any other music festival. You bought the ticket, and have to do all the work. 

Gris is the co-founder, lineup curator, and overall production director for more than 13 years with the sound camp known as Opulent Temple. 

CREDIT: Photo by IRDeep

Opulent’s major objective is twofold: to provide a platform for spiritual dance expression and for DJs to explore the more artistic (and perhaps unacknowledged at other commercial festivals) side of their craft…

 This year, Opulent Temple took a step away from their typical stage build for their popular Wednesday night “White Party.” Instead, they provided attendees a truly magical alternative that captured the true essence of Burning Man by forming a commutative stage consisting of multiple art cars from other camps. The Opulent team set up their DJ stand on top of an art car, outfitted with large speakers, to drive deeper into the open center area of Burning Man. Various cars from other camps outfitted with large speakers met them at a specific location and linked up wirelessly through RF technology to form a makeshift half circle dance floor. While each car was synced directly to the Opulent DJ performance, additional art cars unaffiliated with the camp would drive in and the Opulent workers would link them up to join the party as well.

What was the sound camp scene like when you arrived at your very first Burning Man?
Back in 2001, there were certainly less of them and most every scale of production was downsized compared to current standards of Burning Man sound camps, especially the scale of sound systems. I say that mostly because camps such as “Lush” in 2004 and “Sol System” that same year (fondly known as Sol Henge) were even by today’s sound camp’s standards massive productions, but those were definitely outliers and seemingly burned both crews out because neither ever came back after that year.

Is it true that you fought for the rights of sound camps at Burning Man?
Yes, I organized a bunch of camps in 2008 including representatives from camps like El Circo, the Deep End, Green Gorilla, and others to approach the Burning Man organizers to request some changes and support. The premise was basically that collectively we’ve felt like we give a lot to the event. Which, of course, is fine; it’s why we started creating such camps in the first place. But we hoped we might get more support and resources from the organizers to do what we do since it is our perception the role of the Large Scale Sound & Art Camps had evolved to be an integral part of a large number of attendees experience and reason for coming. What we asked for and what we got for our efforts were different. Spoiler alert: not much!

Did artists like Tiesto find it unique having to purchase their own ticket?
Yes. We are a volunteer and fundraising camp. All the equipment, food, shelter, and electricity comes out of our own pockets, while we all have day jobs outside of Burning Man. He provided a donation to our camp debt after he played for us in 2005, he said, “It’s the only time I’ve paid someone to play for them.”

What did Opulent Temple do to set the standard for today’s music scene at Burning Man?
What we did to raise the bar was really just building on the precedence of the great camps that came before us but taking it to a higher level. We make our own art and the production pieces that make up our camp, and we build new stuff every year to add to our recognizable look. We were the first to have a DJ-operated flame-throwing booth, and the first to consistently bring out an eclectic range of so-called ‘big-name’ DJs, and we did it all year round through volunteers building the camp and making the art.

CREDIT: Photo by IRDeep

What’s the future of the music community of Burning Man? Will the music be too much and eventually take away from the art as it slowly becomes the main attraction?
I think people’s association and experience of Burning Man — unless something drastically changes — is always one of art and music. For now, it is by far primarily dance music. Though it sounds ironic to say, in one light you could say the organization has gone to great lengths to do nothing to support music at Burning Man beyond allowing it to exist. They do a lot to nurture the art scene, so I don’t see it becoming too much.

[Source: Spin]

Read the full interview at Spin Magazine.

Here’s a Syd Gris set from last year’s Halloween.

2014 World’s Top 10 DJs

Coming to us thanks to Approach Mag, is an article about the top earners in the EDM world. They are

  1. Calvin Harris $66m
  2. David Guetta $30m
  3. Avicii $28m
  4. Tiesto $28m
  5. Steve Aoki $23m
  6. Afrojack $22m
  7. Zedd $21m
  8. Kaskade $17m
  9. Skrillex $16.5m (and 5 Grammy nominations)
  10. Deadmau5 $16m

[Source: Approach Mag, Forbes]

The data was published by Forbes, who sourced it from:

earnings from live shows, merchandise sales, endorsements, recorded music sales and external business ventures. Earnings totals were calculated for the 12-month period from June 1, 2013 to June 1, 2014. Sources include Songkick, Pollstar, RIAA, managers, lawyers and some of the people at the heart of the EDM revolution.

Calvin Harris outsold Jay-Z last year:

Scotsman Calvin Harris seems quite at home in the desert

Scotsman Calvin Harris seems quite at home in the desert

When Calvin Harris topped last year’s Electronic Cash Kings list with a stunning $46 million in annual earnings, it seemed symptomatic of a bubble in the burgeoning EDM scene. But since then, the only thing that has popped is the income of the world’s highest-paid DJs.

…Harris, whose total surged to $66 million for the past 12 months, is once again EDM’s Cash King. The top ten earners on our list racked up a staggering $268 million this year, 11% more than the $241 million haul of last year’s top ten. Playing more than 50 festival and nightclub gigs, Harris even out-earned the likes of Toby Keith and Jay Z – but not Beyonce.

That’s an average of $1.3 million per gig for young mister Harris, who is the first artist to ever reach one billion online streams. He just bought a $15 million mansion in Beverly Hills, 18,000 square feet with 11 bathrooms.

Who wants to go to Calvin Harris' pool party? The world. Image: Daily Record

Who wants to go to Calvin Harris’ pool party? The world. Image: Daily Record

Superstar DJs are choosing Nevada over Ibiza:

Guetta commands some of the top fees in Las Vegas but stays true to his European roots, maintaining a weekly residency in Ibiza. That’s increasingly uncommon, as DJs have been choosing the greener pastures of Nevada over the Mediterranean music Mecca.

“I’ve been going there for the last 10 years, it felt there was nothing special,” said third-ranked Tiësto last year, shortly after ditching his Ibiza residency. “And then I got the offer to play in Las Vegas … They made me a great proposal, not just the money but also what they’re going to do there, the biggest club in the world.”

That club, Hakkasan, is responsible for a large chunk of Tiësto’s recent earnings

Some famous Burning Man DJs made the Forbes list, but not the Top 10 like Skrillex:

Swedish House Mafia, which scored $25 million last year in its swan song as a group, are now earning more than they did together in 2013: Steve Angello alone pulled in $12 million, good for No. 12 on this year’s list.

“It’s just grown gigantically because it’s such a great business,” he says of electronic music. “And it’s a great business model because you have all these kids that want to go to all these events, and that’s a great way of making a business stand very fast.”

daft punk trash fenceAngello’s former colleagues Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell are among this year’s near misses. Both of them earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million, as did DJ Pauly D, Diplo, Paul Oakenfold, and Daft Punk. The latter came within a disc’s breadth of making the list thanks to album Random Access Memories, and certainly would have made it if they’d played even a handful of live gigs.

Nice work if you can get it.

How Much Does It Cost To Book Your Favorite DJs? [Updated]

edc huge crowd

At Burning Man, the music is free. That’s because someone else paid to gift that to you. What would it cost to get these DJs to your party normally? The answers are astonishing, even if DJs are under-represented in the list. Where is Davvincii?

From Priceonomics:

2014 djs 100 plus 1

2014 djs 100 plus 2

djs 2014 50 plus 1

djs 2014 50 plus 2

2014 djs 30 to 50 1

2013 djs 30 to 50 2

2014 djs 20 to 30 1

2014 djs 20 to 30 2

2014 djs 10 to 20 1

2014 vegas 10 to 20 2

2014 djs 1 to 10

dj booking 2014

Bonus: here are the highest paid DJ’s in the world for 2013, according to Forbes.

  1. Calvin Harris – $46 million,
  2. Tiesto –  $32 million.
  3. David Guetta – $30 million
  4. Swedish House Mafia – $25 million
  5. DeadMau5 – $21 million
  6. Avicii – $20 million
  7. Afrojack – $18 million
  8. Armin Van Buren – $17 million
  9. Skrillex – $16 million
  10. Kaskade – $16 million
  11. Steve Aoki – $14 million
  12. Pauly D – $13 million
  13. Diplo $13 million

aoki catOur estimates include earnings from live shows, endorsements, merchandise sales, recorded music sales, external business ventures and, in the case of DJ Pauly D, television (we included him on this list because, like his fellow Electronic Cash Kings, he makes at least half his cash from DJ gigs). Sources include Songkick, Pollstar, RIAA, promoters, managers, lawyers and some of the artists themselves. Earnings totals were calculated over a 12-month period from June 1, 2012 to June 1, 2013.

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