Amsterdam Dance Event, also affectionately known as ADE, is the Slush of the electronic music industry. What started out as a weekend gathering of just over 100 individuals back in 1996 has grown in size, scope, and reputation, and today welcomes seasoned industry professionals, aspiring artists, musictech startups, and everyone in between from all four corners of the globe to the largest event of its kind anywhere.
The Netherlands is one of the world's largest exporters of electronic music, with some going so far as to say the genre is the country’s new national folk music. So pervasive is the love of electronic music throughout the Netherlands, that Amazon CTO Werner Vogels has been quoted as saying, “Of course I can DJ, I’m Dutch. We come out of the womb riding a bicycle and behind the decks.”
Amsterdam and its approximately 1.5 million residents fully embrace the spirit of ADE, going so far as to throw open the doors of the world-famous Rijksmuseum to play host to the event's opening ceremony, vowing to "nurture and elevate electronic music."
By the numbers
According to ADE, between October 18 - 22, the 2023 installment of the event is expected to draw some 500,000 enthusiasts from around the world.
To put this figure into perspective, the city of Amsterdam proper counts approximately 800,000 residents. When you factor in that event organisers estimate roughly one in every four of these inhabitants will join in the nighttime revelry, the scale of ADE becomes readily apparent.
This might be surprising to some residents since Amsterdam has launched a campaign to deter partying tourists from visiting the city.
Amsterdam Dance Event’s multifaceted programme comprises four distinct tracks, each catering to a unique aspect of the electronic music world.
At the heart of ADE lies ADE Pro, the conference segment tailored for music industry professionals. Billed as, "The ultimate business and inspiration gathering for electronic music," it’s here where industry titans including Warner Music, Spotify, TikTok, Beatport, and Sony Music get down to business.
Drilling down to an individual level, slated to take the stage at ADE Pro this year include names such as Armin van Buuren, whose Armada music launched a $100 million catalog buying fund backed by Nashville, Tennessee-based Pinnacle Financial, the enigmatic Claptone, hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Jayda G, entrepreneur, investor, and DJ Sam Feldt, and Mixmag's 2016 DJ of the year, The Blessed Madonna.
An initiative launching this year, ADE Chorus is billed as "a new unconventional development & mentorship platform within the music startup community", and aims to serve as a facilitator between founders and investors.
As part of ADE Startups Day on 19 October, out of 500 music startups that applied, 8 founders have been selected by ADE's team of music experts and investors and will be showcased.
The inaugural ADE Chorus cohort includes:
The ADE Lab presents an academic approach to electronic music. Aspiring DJs, producers, musicians, visual artists, and creators can access over 200 workshops, demodrops, jam sessions, showcases, and masterclasses led by industry pros.
ADE Arts and Culture
The ADE Arts and Culture track focuses on the crossover between electronic music and other art forms. Blending industry films, documentaries, performances, and immersive installations, some co-created with Artificial Intelligence as well, the Arts and Culture track serves as a stage for the creative and artistic side of electronic music, providing a broader picture of the music genre for attendees.
Last, but certainly not least, there's the nocturnal soul of ADE — the ADE Festival — with over 2,900 artists scheduled to perform across 1,000 events hosted in 200 diverse locations.
These venues range from world-renowned nightclubs like Paradiso and Shelter to museums, trams, churches, and, a host of other unique and specially curated spaces. So large is the draw of this festival that even some of the biggest festival organisers in the world such as Gardens of Babylon, Audio obscura, Into the Woods, DGTL, and Awakenings host their own events under the ADE umbrella.
Past to Present
Once an underground art form that has its roots in rebels finding alternative ways and means of utilising technology to craft an entirely new genre of music, there's no denying the fact that the electronic music industry is not only a global phenomenon but a commercially successful one too.
ADE aims to become the most significant event for the electronic dance music industry, helping young entrepreneurs, artists, producers, and makers get their foot in the door, while simultaneously showcasing everything the industry has to offer.
Lead image: Richie Hawtin at ADE. Photo: Uncredited.