Las Vegas the New Ibiza? "Not quite," says Pete Tong

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Pete Tong in smart suit

Tong sports BBC casual

The playlists of an entire generation of DJs and music enthusiasts has in some way been informed by the tastes of Pete Tong, who recently celebrated 20 years of spinning on BBC 1, where his Essential Mix remains one of dance music’s most iconic shows, like a stern, hip and reliable old uncle.

Tong’s also been slinging his cache on the 4th annual International Music Summit. Set for May 25-27 at Ibiza’s Gran Hotel, the event will host seminars and networking opportunities to the dance-music industry’s most dedicated. Speakers include top jocks like Sasha, Luciano and Richie Hawtin, plus industry stalwarts like Mute label founder Daniel Miller.

We spoke to Tong…

How open is the International Music Summit for incoming producers, DJs and younger business people in the scene? You’re only making 500 delegates badges available. Yeah, we are tailoring a part of the programming this year to have some more specific things that will help people who are not already established in the business—smaller audiences, meet-and-greet for less initiated to get access to these characters. We do want to grow it, but we don’t want to go from our initial idea to something that’s already being delivered by Miami. We never want to be in the position where the conference doesn’t matter. The easiest thing to do would be to dump the conference and just put on public events. We wanted to give something back to the island. It’s like walking to a tightrope—there is always a balance to keeping both sides. We’re trying to get high-level people together to implement change and inspire each other.

There’s a lot of talk about places like Las Vegas becoming the new alternative to Ibiza. How is the island competing on a global level? Is any of its uniqueness gone? No, Ibiza’s uniqueness is not gone—there is nowhere like Ibiza. Las Vegas is capable of doing something and is the second-highest spender in terms of electronic talent. All the casinos have got clubs now. They’ve woken up to electronic music and they now have a season from the end of May to end of September, so many DJs—from Oakie to Guetta to myself—we’re almost residents now. It’s definitely arrived in terms of its place in electronic music.