Q&A with We Love: Ibiza and Event Promotion in the Digital AgeJuly 5th, 2011 | interviews
Time for warm relaxing evenings, trips to cool places and partying with friends. One popular destination is Ibiza! We spoke to Ruairi Dunne who works for a weekly event at Ibiza’s club Space, called We Love, about the origins of We Love, event promotion and connecting with visitors in the digital age.
Hey Ruairi! What’s your role in We Love’s team?
Well my primary role is in the creation of the weekly films we produce here in Ibiza which highlight the night itself and the artists involved – and also the people and places of the island that we love. Recently the role has expanded to writing our blog and how we get our message ‘out-there’ into the digital ether. There’s also our twitter, which has been a nice learning experience – for everyone, trying to handle communique in such an immediate medium.
It’s about keeping abreast of what opportunities are available and deciding which of these fits best with what we do. We’ve got Phil Cooper (“social media meddler”: Sentric Music) to thank for telling us about things like ‘podcasts‘ and ‘facebook‘ which really wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things. Our musical director Mark Broadbent and promoter Darren Hughes can remember promoting clubs in Ibiza before there were mobile phones. It’s a business that has embraced technology – because the technology has benefited the business. Which I suppose can’t be said for the music industry as a whole.
Before we talk about the new media… I want to get into We Love. Personally I think it’s a great name, in terms of branding, but can you tell me a little more about the concept?
Our promoter Darren Hughes started the night (which actually starts during the day) around the turn of the millennium with an intention of dispensing with the glossy sophistication and unnecessary marketing which had started to make the culture bigger than the clubbing.
The concept has grown with the people involved in the project as a whole, even the artists and DJs are booked for both their talent and how their personalities ‘fit’ with each other and the organisation itself.
So was We Love intended to be used as a way to say We Love [insert place/DJ/venue] etc. from the beginning?
Well the mythology goes that one keen observer, happily exhausted as the last tune wound down from another Sunday morning marathon, pointed out the blindingly obvious: “We love Sundays at Space!” (to quote the campaign literature). To be honest I don’t know how much foresight the original name came with as to it’s global appeal, but knowing Mark and Darren’s uncanny nose for a zeitgeist I certainly wouldn’t put it past them.
We got a question from one of our followers on Twitter who was actually curious about the media production team for We Love and how many people are working on that?
Well the podcast is produced by Andy Wilson, a respected radio presenter in his own right and founder of arguably the best station on the island, Ibiza Sonica radio. Originally the podcast was produced by Tom Brown. The videos are directed, shot and edited by myself, with the interviews conducted by the somewhat mysteriously monikered Miss W. She is a fantastic journalist and has a striking ability to elicit candid, first-rate responses from the various subjects we meet.
So We Love uses a lot of media to promote the event. Do you think this is ‘a must’ in the digital age? Especially for certain types of events in places like Ibiza, or for any type of music event?
I wouldn’t say media production is ‘a must’ on the same level as booking the right artists to play at the right time in the right club. Or making sure your graphic identity fits the bill. But it is becoming very important if your brand is looking for a global reach. The vast majority of clubbers in Ibiza come from abroad, so if you have a way to reach and engage with them beyond traditional means such as magazine adverts then it’s surely a good thing.
There is a risk of overload though, people don’t want to feel like they are being ‘sold at’ or treated as a commodity. I think with the podcasts and films what people are getting is entertainment on some level first before any demands are made on them to follow, like or buy something. The bill poster on a café window carries a very different role to it than a radio show or a video.
And does this entertainment also help people feel related to ‘We Love’? For example after visiting the place, or hearing an artist they’re going to see next Sunday?
It’s hard to know. I would guess that the majority of our online audience have never experienced the club here in Ibiza, it’s really nice to see the amount of downloads / plays we get from places like Argentina and Malaysia. The fact that we can translate what is essentially four walls, a (admittedly amazing) soundsystem and a DJ to people who may never get the chance to come here but still have a chance to participate on some level means more to me personally than giving fans an action replay of what they did last weekend.
And do you do any offline activities to make people aware of these online activities?
Every week at the club we ask people to subscribe to our mailing list, we bribe them by giving them a hard copy of the yearly compilation which is particularly good this summer. People usually decline the offer to sign up for things like this, but when you’re offering them a mix of exclusive, unreleased material from artists playing at the club… it’s a bit of a no-brainer really. And everyone loves a souvenir right?
How do you see the future of events like this in terms of the fusion of the ‘digital and physical’ realities? Since the digital world is playing an increasingly big role in our daily lives. What are you looking forward to being able to do?
Although it may seem perverse, I am in fact quite wary of bringing technology into the club environment. Even things like visuals on screens can detract from the ‘experience’ of enjoying the music with the people around you, never mind posters around the club asking you to download an app or ‘activate your bluetooth’ (wow, remember bluetooth…), or the dreaded scourge of camera phones on the dancefloor. Give me a high-powered single colour lazer and a strobe light any day!
We Love and Ibiza as a whole have taught me that (real) nightclubs are one of the few places where we can be said to transcend the mundane with a shared human experience. Of course it’s a business, but it’s one that has to stick to it’s fundamental purpose of quite literally bringing people together if it is to succeed. If our new digital future can help with this then great, but let’s not get bogged down and make it a hindrance to Having A Good Time.
Musically, I can’t wait for Aphex Twin at our closing party on September 25th.