Electric Daisy Carnival showcases no-longer-outlaw dance music

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Electric Daisy Carnival

Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas last year. (May 16, 2013)

Q: For a long time, the rave scene around the world had an outlaw appeal using nontraditional venues and avoiding mainstream attention. Do you think it has to outgrow that to survive?

A: It's not inherent to dance music's appeal. It's outgrowing it as we speak

Just like rock 'n' roll, jam bands, hip-hop, it has to go through its growing pains. This has been a longer process, but it didn't catch on as fast. Now it's happening. People love the music. I'm a product of the culture -- I don't go for the drugs, or to get addicted or hurt myself at shows. I went for the music, because I loved the dancing. It's different from other music. People face each other, they dance with each other. It's a spectacle, an event -- the outfits, the promotion of love one another, be with one another. It's positive. I built a business on it, people built clothing lines, people have musical careers. It's brought a lot of joy to people's lives.

Q: Live Nation and you are talking about a partnership. Where do you stand in the negotiations?

A: We've talked to them. I am co-promoting some shows with them right now. I'm doing (Electric Daisy Carnival in) London with them, using some of their venues, exploring a deeper relationship with them. But until I know it's great for the growth of my company and the experience of my fan base, I won't do a deal. If everything points toward it making sense for me and the betterment of the company, I would do it. I have talked to many people over the years, and received some crazy financial proposals. I'm open to it — anything to make my company better and healthier, I'll look at.

Q: Is consolidation a positive trend for the dance community?

A: Can people jumping into this industry to make a quick buck make bad events? Yes. Am I gonna sign up for that? No. Are people jumping into this industry pretending like they care? Yes. Will that turn ugly? Yes. I've been through this on a smaller scale in the late '90s, early 2000s, when people wanted to jump in. Lots of people can put on events to make money, but the core crowd that is there for the culture, the spirit of dance music, and the music fan, they can smell that stuff. There are gonna be people who jump into this and do things that aren't tasteful and don't feel right. Those events won't last very long. The only reason we've survived the ups and downs of the culture is because we've been there, and people trust us.

Q: You've been successful on your own. What benefit do you see to partnering with someone like Live Nation?

A: It has to be right before I make a deal, and I don't know when that is. I'm not retiring or looking for a cash-out. I've gotten offers for as much as $120 million for my company. I didn't take that offer. At one point we had 12 offers from different people that wanted to buy us. Sillerman was one of those. There is a list we had, we told 97 percent of those people we were definitely not interested -- one was the highest offer, $120 million. If I'm gonna partner with someone it's because they're a great partner, not because of the money. I'm always looking to make my events better. My infrastructure, there are only 20 of us, we're running on all cylinders 24-7. We don't have access to some venues. We don't have access to funds that we need to make investments. We have enough funds to operate event to event. We looked at different companies, and they have different benefits. What didn't make sense is the company that offered us a bunch of money. We're not done building the vision. But who has infrastructure, who can help us go global? Who can help us with the politics, doing things we can't do on our own? Do we have to have a long-term partnership? We just partnered with Live Nation on London. We could not have gotten Olympic Park in London without them. We've explored a deeper relationship with Live Nation. Discussions are good. We'll keep talking.

Electric Daisy Carnival
5 p.m. May 24-26
Where: Chicagoland Speedway, 500 Speedway Blvd., Joliet, Ill.
Tickets: $89 single-day pass, three-day pass for $175, three-day camping pass $299; electricdaisycarnival.com

Greg Kot co-hosts "Sound Opinions" at 8 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. Saturdays on WBEZ (FM 91.5).

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