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(left to right) Buster, 93.1 fm Miami; Lainie Capicotto, Aurelia Entertainment; Tiesto; Dade Aokoloff, founder of Shadow Lounge, and Scott Henry, Buzzlife, DC.





THE NARAS PANEL: Jason Bentley; Geronimo, Sirius radio; Steve Silk Hurley; Victor Calderone; Carmen Rizzo; Michael Paoletta, Billboard magazine; in front... unknown with Sasha.


  Lee Cabrera in the VIP @ Crobar, during the NARAS Grammy Award party



Hector Romero @ Crobar






Sasha @ Crobar






The need for "good songs", lack of radio airplay stressed by industry insiders at annual meeting.

Words and photos by Carl Noone Jr.

On September 20th, 21st, and 22nd, a choice selection of disc jockeys, record company executives, radio programmers, publicists, artists and journalists converged on the Union Square Ballroom in New York City for a three-day "meeting of the minds".

Topics ranging from "The Future of Digital Distribution" to "The Problems Facing the Industry Today" were discussed, sometimes heatedly, in intimate panels consisting of a wide-range of remarkably engaging speakers. By Wednesday afternoon, most in attendance, including a shaky, teary-eyed Danny Tenaglia, were quick to admit their love and respect for the distinguished guests on hand, such as the legendary producer Giorgio Moroder.

Other added special events were a Q and A session with Paul van Dyk, a preview party for "Parade of the Athletes" that included a sit-down conversation with its creator, Tiesto, and an event-closing panel called "The Pioneers of Electronic Music" that featured remix technology inventor Tom Moulton who is credited with over 3,000 remixes since the early 70's, "The Godfather of House", Frankie Knuckles, who has been DJing since 1971, and dance music's true living legend, the aforementioned Italian-born Moroder.

Most remembered for his work as producer on virtually all of Donna Summer's big hits, as well as being credited with performing and producing the world's first all-digital recording with "E=MC2", longtime German resident Moroder related stories to the crowd ranging from the long-rumored tale of Summer's moaning and groaning floor-strewn studio session for "I Feel Love" to his collaborations with David Bowie ("Cat People (Putting Out Fire)") and Elton John. ("Don't Go Breaking My Heart (feat. RuPaul)) The latter brought laughter and cheers from the crowd as Moroder teased them with mention to a recorded "dirty talk" session between Sir Elton and the world-famous cross-dresser and the tapes of which he still owns.

Some newsworthy items surfaced during the informal yet educational assembly, including news that Sasha has recently moved to the Big Apple, relocating his home and studio from hurricane-riddled Florida. After completion of an Asian tour in November, he will return to New York to get settled in his new quarters with plans to begin work on new material by January.

Not surprisingly, he has also begun work on the custom design and fabrication of a heavy-duty metal-housed MIDI controller specialized for use with the brand new edition of LIVE4, software which he calls "highly intuitive" and "vital to the production of" his latest incredible hybrid, Involver. "The plastic ones today feel too cheap, too unreliable to take on the road", he later added.

Tiesto, the world's number one DJ whose likeness appeared on the side of a Coca-Cola can in Europe this past Spring, informed those in attendance at his listening party portion of the event that he too has recently moved to New York City, adding his name to the long list of high-profile electronic tastemakers that now call it home.

The lanky shining Dane was also lauded as becoming the first DJ to ever perform during the opening or closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games where, in Athens, he played a two-hour-plus set in front of an estimated 4.3 billion people watching (and listening) at home on television.

His latest full-length CD on Nettwerk, "Parade of the Athletes", is a diverse collection of incredibly mature sound structures that range from electro-influenced Nu-Breaks to his signature uplifting Trance with a little Dance-Rock thrown in for good measure. Due out in October, a preview copy of it was overnight-shipped to the event just in time as Tiesto roamed the room to shake hands after fielding questions from Billboard Magazine's incredibly friendly senior writer Michael Paoletta.

DJ Rap, who was last seen on U.S. television sets peddling Twix bars to young bass-heads, has recently teamed-up with clothing retailer Armani Exchange to cross-promote a new mixed compilation of House tracks, her first in the genre. She later performed an amazing opening set at the N.A.R.A.S. Grammy Award party in front of the 4,000-capacity plus crowd at Crobar, easily dispelling all doubts.

Earlier in the day, she again stressed to the crowd the need and desire as a new label owner "for quality House and Break-beat songs with good melodies and rhythm". Commenting on the perceived downfall of the recording industry by the use of the internet and technology, she raised eyebrows (and pencils) by pointedly stating "you can't download personality".

crowd waiting for Sasha @ Crobar

On Tuesday, international DJ and dance industry icon Sasha was able to interject a bit of humor during the N.A.R.A.S.-based panel discussion that included Matrix soundtrack producer Jason Bentley and Madonna remixer/producer Victor Calderone.

"No one likes to see a DJ fiddling with his mouse in the dark", he said, garnering applause from the audience with his comedic take on the use of laptop-computer-based software in nightclubs today. "If it crashes, if it stops working for some reason, then what? That's why I still prefer to record my vinyl to CD-R and play them on the road", he added with a bit of personal insight.

The Grammy Award-nominating organization recently added the "Best Electronic/DJ Album" name to its long list of categories to be included during this coming November's ceremonies and included New York in a list of traveling parties to celebrate and promote its decision.

Singer/songwriter Amber, a re-emerging dancefloor mainstay who is trying to shed the "diva" title, has, after over two years of struggle and hard work, finally decided to "go it alone" and recently set up shop on the internet where she plans to release a nearly-completed full-length of original material.

Perhaps most influencing was the beautiful ebony singer/songwriter Joi Cardwell who spoke about the ups and downs of recording contracts, high-profile deals, and the expectations associated with such stressful opportunities that are presented to artists. Quite possibly conveying the philosophy of the entire get-together was her reference to a book she had published years earlier after "being screwed over way too many times".

Simply stated, for artists and everyone associated with Dance music to survive and become successful, they need to "Keep Your Eye On the Game, Not On the Fame."

More importantly, she added, "Your value lies in your songwriting; your song IS your business card and should be treated as such." (Do I hear an "Amen" to that, people??!!)

Even though answers were not directly offered to the numerous questions raised, perhaps this was the hidden intention of organizers from the beginning. If not anything, the Billboard Dance Summit has created a deluge of discussions, brainstorms, and inspirations that can only help to improve the state of the struggling Dance music economy in America today.

Without inundating its fanatical attendees with the fog of party after party, as is the case with its Florida counterpart, Winter Music Conference, this centralized, more focused meeting has opened the doors and minds of those willing to listen. Unfortunately, we can only hope and look forward to the day when panel members, like Atlantic Records COO Craig Kallman, will stop running away empty-handed, after relating the need for quality music, at opportunistic events like this one.



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