Written by Ryan Goldade
Edited by Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Since 2004, I’ve been active in the nightlife industry as a DJ, promoter and a patron. Over the years I’ve seen so many people come and go and notice that the industry is really a revolving door. DJs, promoters, clubs, even entire scenes seem to come and go over night so it’s difficult to see much of a future in the industry. This is probably why so few people are still involved when they turn 30.
Sometimes they leave because they get bored or because they move on but often it’s because they just fail to adapt. The technological revolution in the nightlife industry has changed the entire system. For DJs, it was Serato that reinvented what it meant to be a DJ, but for a promoter, the biggest change was Facebook. The Social Network’s meteoric rise made it possible to empower the “Facebook Promoter.” This type of promoter bypassed the entire system of paying dues and street level promoting because Facebook allowed unlimited access to would-be clubbers. The result of this was an explosion of promoting companies and an erosion of the nightlife because there is an abundance of clubs and a shortage of attendees.
The club industry is a very simple economy. The promoter makes money off the cover charge at the door and the club makes the money off the drinks at the bar. The club owner allows the promoter to take the money from the door in return for bringing in people to drink and making the club money. There are many tactics that promoters will use to lure clubbers to their venue to keep bar sales. Having artists perform is one method. It’s not really about them performing to the audience, it’s about them bringing out a crowd to the night and building buzz for the venue. Hosting special events, giveaways, bringing in go-go dancers. The bottom line is dollars and cents. Sell tickets, sell drinks, and make money. Which is totally fine because it’s business. With the explosion of Facebook, however, it became harder and harder to continue because there were just simply not enough people to fill everyone’s party. A result of this was the niche market promoters, which included the abundance of hipster nights, the Korean nights, the hip-hop nights (and they’re becoming extinct as electro takes over). Basically, in order to survive, the promoters had to resort to appealing to a small but loyal population to guarantee business. For example, if you were the only club in town that played K-pop and you hired Korean promoters, you would be guaranteed 500+ every weekend. It wasn’t as prevalent five years ago because it was simply more difficult to be in touch with such a large amount of people like you can with Facebook.
The technological changes revolutionized the way we DJ and promote in both positive and negative ways. With the explosion of DJs and promoters as a result, there have been many veterans who have criticized this. But really, the bottom line is that the scene is always changing. It always has been changing. The ones left behind are the ones that are unable to adapt. The explosion of DJs and promoters will eventually equilibrate and order will be restored. As this happens, only the strong will survive. In this sense, the night scene is very much like evolution, and Mother Nature is a cruel bitch.