WMC Report #3: DJs John Digweed, Armand Van Helden Work Overtime

Fourth day of Winter Music Conference 2000 finds marquee DJs spinning to support new LPs.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — On the fourth day of the Winter Music Conference 2000, the electronica schmoozefest's marketing took place in clubs more than in conference rooms.

Big-name DJs such as Armand Van Helden, John Digweed and Gilles Peterson spun long sets Tuesday night in support of upcoming or recent albums.

"I've DJed three sets in four days," said Digweed, who's promoting his 1999 release Bedrock. "It's a lot of work, but these showcases pay off, and I'm having a really good time."

Digweed and his cohorts are certainly reaping the benefits. Enormous crowds stood outside the Crobar (with Digweed, Sacha and Carl Cox) and Shadow Lounge (Paul Oakenfold), trying to sneak a peek at the DJs.

Marci Weber, who manages "Bodyrock" (RealAudio excerpt) artist Moby, said success in electronic music is definitely related to promotion and public appearances.

"Moby's biggest thing is his live performance," she said. "That's why you'll see him down here every year and on 'Letterman' and things like that."

Weber spent most of Tuesday talking about Moby, who stunned audiences at the Crobar the night before. She sat in on two panels, including "Digital Electronic Music Breaking Into Mainstream America."

Along with executives from Astralwerks, Ultra Records and others, Weber fielded questions about dance artists "selling out."

"When Moby licensed so many of his songs to movies and commercials, it was something we felt we needed to do to get exposure," she said. "We knew we had a great record on our hands, but no one was hearing it."

If artists weren't performing at huge clubs, they were supporting their albums with more intimate, record label-sponsored pool parties.

V2 Records, home of Moby, showcased DJs Alex Gopher and Aphrodite, both of whom have released records this year, at a private shindig at the posh Astor Hotel. The label also took advantage of the press-packed crowd by handing out samplers of Rinocerose, whose Installation Sonore, due Tuesday, is V2's next release.

"The music is cool," said Roberto Jose, editor of the Miami-based Web site NOW Entertainment. "But I'm really here for the free drinks."

Jive Electro hosted a similar party, touting their high-profile new act Groove Armada. The duo played an extended DJ set that followed a live performance by the label's lesser-known Detroit act Grand Pu Bahs.

At the Crobar, Carl Cox celebrated his new label by spinning a techno set in the main room, while his In-tec labelmates entertained a more chilled crowd in a back room.

Level featured an evening quite the opposite. Singers Taka Boom and Mark Bell performed ill-received gospellike sets in the main room, while Doc Martin followed up a surprise set by Carl Craig in the tiny basement.