Interview: Bill Kelly, the founder of Winter Music Conference,

Posted in March 17, 2019 by Jonathan Villicaña

We are so excited about the Winter Music Conference, this year marks the rebirth of an icon, and That’s why we interview Bill Kelly, the WMC founder, and we talk about the history behind and what’s going on this new edition.

Tell us what your impetus was for starting the conference was back in 1986.

Prior to 1986 there was no platform or convention that addressed the dance music community and the future of it. Starting the Winter Music Conference to address a largely popular format of music not only across clubs in the USA and the radio airwaves; but internationally is what we felt was very important. We were extremely excited to announce the development of this major platform. “Our purpose was to express the power and message of dance music in clubs and on the radio. We wanted to share this experience on a global scale and give dance music a place in history that I feel it deserves”

Can you describe some key WMC moments/highlights that stand out for you over the years?

Discussions for several years at the Winter Music Conference prior to 1992 with then music manager Bob Caviano and CEO Daniel Glass spawned, the now well-known organization Lifebeat; which directly assists entertainment-industry figures afflicted with AIDS, in part by staging musical benefits around the country to raise money for local organizations. The first such concert was held in June 1992 at the Roseland ballroom in Manhattan.

CADM – Was formed at WMC in a series of meetings by Ellyn Harris and the Committee for the Advancement of Dance Music. Their successful lobbying for dance music to be properly considered for its own Grammy award. Apparently, the Grammys didn’t consider dance music “music,” mostly due to things like remixing and “lack of melody or verse” (arguably the things that can keep dance music off the radio). Some also thought that dance music was only a fad, and wouldn’t be around long enough to warrant an official award. One big part of that? The backlash towards the disco scene. Ellyn Harris through her efforts at the Winter Music Conference championed the eventual inclusion of several dance music categories at the Grammys.

The development of the first and only dance music award show started by the Winter Music Conference in 1986 namely called the International Dance Music Awards (IDMA’s) The IDMA’s have for 32 plus years always been at the forefront of representing the many different styles of dance music while offering more inclusive forms of electronic music on a global stage.

Although there have been many legendary parties to which I could highlight here that have been running decades long and are famous WMC moments. I feel that one of the most important highlights that stand out to me are the many influencers of the Winter Music Conference over the years. So I’d rather pay homage in the form of a personal memorial to several pioneers who we have lost over the years. Frankie Knuckles, Mel Cheren, Kelly Schweinsburg, Mario Alayon, Fred Held, Artie Jacobs, Bobby Ghosen, Jerry King, Vince Pellegrino, Henry Stone, David Henny and the many others whose participation and dedication to the Winter Music Conference have not gone unnoticed and will be remembered forever.

How will partnering Ultra change the conference

The organization and worldwide influences of the Ultra family and its tens of thousands of fans will fuel the continued legacy and success of the Winter Music Conference by maintaining the integrity, values and personal commitment of providing stimulating discussions, while adhering to the development of Music, Technology, Education and the enjoyment of its global culture.

What are you most looking forward to this year at WMC

The rebirth of this ICON and the expanded and extensive programming will be the best in a decade. I look forward to exploring and developing relationships and experiences that launch WMC’s future far into the world of leadership. I’m also looking forward to WMC’s acknowledgement of those participants whose exceptional communication in our ever-changing world will bridge divisions, unify people, forge acceptance and to share experiences to both personal and socially in a way we’ve never seen before.

Now that you know more about this forthcoming WMC’s edition check the trailer and find your tickets:

Winter Music Conference 2019 from Winter Music Conference on Vimeo.