It is no secret that the dance music industry has considerably changed over the last 20 years with promoters coming and going, labels pop up over night as quick as they disappear or a new DJ Agency appears on the scene, but not many can lay claim to doing it right, to have been an influential part of nurturing an industry that barely has no rules, to create carefully crafted events in an industry that is awash with so much choice. So it was somewhat refreshing to be able to take time out with one of Amsterdam’s most celebrated and respected promoters, label owner and DJ agent Stefano Richetta.
To say Stefano and his Click brand have stood out above a tidal wave of large scale events in a country (Netherlands) that has more music festivals per head than anywhere on the planet is an understatement and one that cannot be overlooked. With our both hectic schedules, we did however to take time out and discuss something quite dear to us both – The music industry.
Hi Stefano, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today. Everybody has a tale about how they entered the music industry, what made you decide to jump in and invest your life to the scene?
Hi There, thanks for inviting me. I’ve been involved with music my whole life. Music is my passion and it’s a beautiful thing if you can make a living out of it.
There has been a lot of animosity on social media towards promoters from DJs being asked to help promote an event they are playing at, how do you see the role of the DJ when booked for an event?
You book an artist for who he is and what he does. I want to let the artist do his own thing, that way he has enough room to do what the artist does best. Of course it’s nice if an artist helps promote your event. I do think an artist has to be proud he can play at your event and he has to want it, if an artist only comes to play for the money, I think it’s less interesting. I will never force an artist to help promote an event, this has to be a natural thing because he thinks it’s cool to play at our party.
It is no secret that things go wrong at events and sometimes rooms / stages have to be closed due to numbers, naturally no promoter wants this, but how do you deal with it and what would you say to artists who turned up to play and you had to cancel their set?
I think you can handle this pretty well, but that isn’t always easy. We’ve had to deal with a less than happy crowd when we had to shut down a room at one of our parties, but I re-arranged the timetable, and every artist we’d booked got to play that night, only a bit shorter. I did this to keep everybody happy, the visitors AND the artists.
A lot of planning goes into an event, more than people may realise, can you talk us through the stages of running an event?
It is mainly time and experience. I’ve been organising events for a long time now, and I have got a great network of very nice people that I love to work with. It took many years but now I know who to hire for a certain job. Of course everything evolves pretty fast, you have to stay on your toes with certain suppliers, and because of that, you have to make certain changes from time to time. You have to stay focused and work with tight deadlines. But that’s part of who I am and after all these years I can do that pretty well.
The Netherlands has become a somewhat “holy grail” for clubbing over the last few years, what do you think makes partying in Holland so unique to anywhere else in the world?
Yes, there is a lot of going on in Holland and on a high level of quality too. Sometimes it’s so highly evolved that your kind of missing the base of it all. More is not always better.
Speaking of Dutch festivals, it was reported in 2014, that there was 774 festivals, bringing in over 20 million visitors from other countries, how important is it to diversify your marketing and compete with so many festivals?
You always have to try to differentiate, that begins by organising events that fits your ideology. Don’t follow the trend but stay consistent.
Beyond the borders of Holland, you have also run parties in Barcelona, how did that come about and what challenges do you face running an event so far from home?
Click has been to many places. Belgium, Germany, France, Sweden, Malta, Ibiza, India and Spain and I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting about one or two haha. This year I am doing 4 events during Sonar in Barcelona. Sonar is kind of like a summer ADE and apart from that it’s super fun to do. It’s great to do things over there for our brand and label, especially now we are very busy with the foreign market, it’s really important to do stuff at Sonar.
Every event has a funny tale, what would be the most memorable thing that has happened at one of your events over the years?
That’s really difficult to answer because every event we did has a memorable moment or a funny twist of it’s own.
A lot of new DJs don’t have the luxury of an agent, but what can they do to help get themselves noticed by a promoter?
I think that you have to be very active in the scene and show yourself. Good productions, releases and gigs always help of course. Apart from that, people have to grant you certain things as well. It also helps to have a good network of people in the business.
Away from events, you recently started Click DJ Agency with quite an impressive roster of artists. How did the shift from events to running an agency come about?
I started with the events, then came the label and the most logical step was to start an agency, so we did. It’s really a result of what we’re doing…
There can sometimes be a bit of confusion about the role and services a manager, agent, label or PR provides to an artist, can you tell us a bit more about the role of a booking agent?
As a booking agent you take care of the process between the promoter and the artist, up to the night itself. You can think of contracts, deals, logistics and traffic. Next to that I help promote the artists where I can.
For a first time promoter wanting to book an artist, what advice would you give them before approaching an agency?
Make sure you know exactly what you want. Also, have as much information about the event as possible so things can go very smoothly with the agency as well as the artist.
Much has been reported over the years of artists demanding weird and funny requests on their riders, what has been the most interesting you have ever come across?
I am not going to name and shame here, but sometimes they don’t ask for a bottle or a box but a container, in the case of liquor. With these numbers you could easily get a whole club passed out drunk. Of course I don’t take those sorts of demand seriously. Usually the case is that the artist isn’t even aware of what the agent or manager puts in their rider.
A quick glance over your label Click Records, shows a who is who of the progressive house scene, how do you see the progressive house sound in 2015?
I have always been a big fan of the progressive sound. In the early days, organisations use to try stuff in Holland but there wasn’t a lot going on. Now it’s come back a bit and progressive doesn’t have the label that it use to have. The current progressive sound is more easy to combine nowadays with other genres so I am happy that the demand is growing again, but the supply is growing as well.
For a new producer looking to send their music to a label, what advice would you give them before they contact a label?
Do your homework! So apart from that the track has to be high quality, do a bit of research into the label. If the track doesn’t fit the philosophy of the label, it’s pointless. Sometimes I receive demo tracks that are completely the opposite of what we’re doing.
Thanks so much for taking the time out to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. Lastly, what can we expect from Click this year?
We are planning a lot of stuff. Click will soon enter it’s 9th year and we will celebrate that with great events inside and outside Holland. A lot of releases coming up on our label and the agency continues to grow.