EDM Maniac uses digital health passports for event screenings

EDM Maniac uses digital health passports for event screenings

EDM-Maniac-the-EventBuzz-podcastPodcast speakers: Savannah McIntosh (Purplepass Marketing Director) and Devin Lezama (Founder of EDM Maniac). Jump to the show notes below. 

The EventBuzz podcast: EDM Maniac

presented by Purplepass

 

 

Podcast Transcript: Purplepass + EDM Maniac

Savannah (Purplepass):

Welcome back guys to another episode of the EventBuzz podcast by Purplepass. I'm your host Savannah McIntosh. And with me today we have Devin Lezama, the founder of EDM Maniac. Originally a publication started to amplify emerging dance artists and events around the world. It has now grown into a multifarious brand, becoming the leading voice in electronic dance music.

Throughout the pandemic, EDM Maniac has hosted CDC compliant in person experiences as well as live stream productions.

On today's episode, we will be discussing how EDM maniac has recently pivoted their events to be COVID safe, and their plans of bringing the EDM community together and allowing people to reconnect through their experiences live and in person.

Hi, Devin, thanks for coming on to the podcast. How are you doing today?

 

Devin (EDM Maniac):

I'm doing super it's I can't believe it's in May. But I'm really excited that the world seems to be moving in a better place. And it's crazy to look back where we were a year ago and see how far we've come. So I'm actually feeling great.

 

Savannah:

Great. Well, you guys are doing some amazing stuff. So I'm really excited to talk to you and kind of share that with the listeners today. So let's just have you do a little brief intro about yourself, who you are and how EDM maniac got its start.

 

Devin:

Yeah, it's a great question. It's a fun story that I love talking about. Almost 10 years ago, I was living in New York City and I was introduced to dance music. It was actually a little over 10 years now, but I was introduced to dance music by a friend. And I was just finishing college and I moved out to LA from New York not knowing anyone but still having this love for dance music.

And I didn't know anyone here. So the first thing I did was just start going out and trying to meet people. And so I started going out in LA, some small events, bigger events, and started meeting some really great people. And those people were pretty connected within the local LA community.

And we were going out a lot and they were DJs and they were like, hey, do you want to help us like throw an event or a party? And I was like, sure what kind of parties like, well, it's gonna be an illegal warehouse party. And I've never been to one of those. I was like, sure. I started meeting more people. So you start inviting my friends and I was like, sure, I'll help out with it.

And the parties were being promoted on Instagram, which is a huge part of what we do right now. But back then, it was just getting started.

 

Savannah:

You that was very advanced. 

 

Devin: 

Yeah, it was very basic app. It wasn't doing much just like a couple filters, on photos. But we started to use Instagram, as a way to promote these parties. Right when Instagram was starting, everyone was on it and it was so new, and all our friends were joining. Were you using those hashtags that at the time are really, really beneficial to growth.

And, you know, people would find out about the parties on Instagram. And then, you know, I started this Instagram account. You know, I don't remember what I call it back then it wasn't called EDM Maniac. But it was something about the party.

And then the party started getting bigger and bigger. And my friends were like, hey, I think you're onto something here. I think you should maybe like you go to a lot of events. You, you're always out always partying, you should like do something fat. And I was like, yeah, I know, but I don't know if that's realistic. I was like, that seems kind of far fetched.

And I was working like a nine to five job at the time. I worked in tech for a while for like the past 10 years.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I was gonna ask me you majored in?

 

Devin:

Yeah, I went to film school. But yeah, I worked for Apple for about six years after retail store, fixing computers and stuff. And that's how I pivoted to kind of tech. So I was doing tech for a while in LA, some great companies. I was working for Hulu, when they just first started. It was like 50 of us.

I worked for Apple's media agency. I worked for a lot of really, really great companies. And at the time, this was like 10 years ago. I was like, Sure, I'll just like you know, maybe start like a page on Instagram for like going to festivals and stuff. And at the time, dance music was exploding and this was like the 2010s and it just kind of took off from there. And people were liking the Instagram page DMing us at the parties and it just kind of blew up.

And I realized when it blew up was when we got a message from Armin Van Buren, he's very famous trance DJ, from his publicist saying hey, Armin Van Buren is gonna be playing in Las Vegas. He's gonna be opening up this new nightclub called Omnia.

He was like hey, do you want to come down and meet Armin?

 

Savannah:

That's so cool.

 

Devin:

I was like, wow. So from there things kind of just blew up. You know, I was working full time, but I was also focusing on growing EDM Maniac full time. And here we are about 10 years later, we are one of the largest and most influential dance music publications in the world.

We have like 155,000 followers on Instagram. We do live stream events with Insomniac TV, we have a great partnership with them. And we also do live events. We were the third drive in dance event in North America in June of last year. EDM drive-in event.

 

Savannah:

Oh, yeah. I'm gonna ask you about that. Don't worry.

 

Devin:

And yeah, so here we are. 10 years later, doing amazing things I will love for dance music, and it's just been it's been a really awesome adventure.

 

Savannah:

That's so cool. Yeah, you never know. You never know where life's going to take you. 

 

Devin: 

Yeah, you really don't. 

 

Savannah: 

And that's amazing. And can I just say, I cannot wait until we can all dance together again. We're slowly getting there. And I'm so, so excited. That's amazing story. And on that note, like you said, it's, it's, we're slowly moving towards, you know, somewhat of a normal. I wanted to kind of touch base and see what was, how was the past year for you guys during the pandemic?

 

Devin:

Well, I kind of want to give it a little bit more context about me. I was still working my full time job up until last year. And then the opportunity came along, in February of last year, that would have allowed me to focus on EDM Maniac full time. So what I did was I did what anyone would do, quit their job.

And a couple weeks later, literally, the pandemic hit. And the company that we were going to partner with was like, you know what, we can't do this, you know, our financials are gonna be different for the next year.

Then the opportunity that was that was there was kind of no longer there. So I was out of a job, which was crazy. But then I sort of looked back and I was like, hey, maybe this is what I needed the entire time. Maybe this is the big step in my life that I needed to quit my job and focus on this, you know, all the time.

And I did just that. Got really innovative, spent hours thinking about how to get creative, we partnered with a lot of people to do different sorts of events. In June of last year, we were the third dance music driving event in North America. So people would bring their cars, here, the music from their cars, dance, full stage production, everything fireworks, it was really cool.

And October, we did another one for Halloween. And then in Texas in Austin, we started doing CDC, socially distant Dance events where people can actually dance. And we started those in October and we've been doing those every weekend since October.

So yeah, great times. We're doing live streams with Insomniac that we started in January to keep people sort of engaged. And we produce original content for Insomniac. And but you know, all of that sounds like really fun. But in reality, it was really, really difficult. It was working with the state. Working with the governor, like I was kind of thrown into these positions of like, dealing with health officials. I never thought I would be.

Um, but it gave me a ton of experience. And but it was challenging. I think it was really hard. Because for a minute, you're kind of like, what does the future look like? What does the future look like for me? What is it look like for the world? And I wasn't sure. And I don't think anyone was sure last year actually, like I don't think anyone really knew what the world would look like, a year later.

 

Savannah:

We're still like not knowing sometimes, you know.

 

Devin:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. There was a time when there's was quite a bit of uncertainty. But it really allowed me to be more creative and think more outside of the box. And I think in the moments where, you know, you're kind of like, in the dark a little bit or Yeah, you're kind of like up against the wall. You get really creative. And I found it to be sort of, like the most creative year of my life.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I definitely agree. We get so used to being comfortable. And then once you finally feel that discomfort, that's when you you start doing stuff and you start you know, pushing boundaries, getting creative.

So it was probably a blessing in disguise, life telling you okay, this is your next step. We're gonna make it happen. And you guys did it and nothing, nothing good comes easy. That's what we all have to remember. So it's hard work, but look at everything you guys have accomplished so far. It's so amazing.

And have you guys, you guys been producing live stream events. Is that the is this the first time really doing that? Or were you doing that before COVID?

 

Devin:

We weren't doing it before. COVID. No we were very focused on you know, we're also doing music publication. So we're really focused on that. So we kind of grew into these new verticals of live streams, went back to live events, like I mentioned, when we were doing events in San Diego, back in the day and all these warehouse parties. And now we're back doing live events in different capacities.

We're actually in the back in San Diego on May 22 for a socially distinct Pool Party; well not socially distant, because you're allowed to be in a pool now. It's gonna be minimum capacity in San Diego, and then we just, we're gonna announce in just actually a couple hours here, our first open air event in Los Angeles, at the W Hotel in Hollywood.

And that's gonna be a nice event for people to come dance and listen to music. Tons of stuff coming up.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. And that's really tricky for you guys, like you said, dealing with all the health officials and the different needs because you're doing it in different areas. So you really, you really have to learn
seats, because I live in Texas right now, but my family's from California. Two different places two different things going on.

So you never know, it's a lot.

 

Devin:

It's a lot. And we, yeah, the governor in Texas, when when we're doing our events there, he had this whole thing about no, you can't force people to wear masks, you can't do that. So we had to work against like, whatever was happening as it was happening. And we have to change a lot of our messaging last minute based on sort of what was happening.

And then you have California where you have to wear masks everywhere. And socially distant, but it was great. It was such a, it was a really awesome learning experience and to be able to, you know, interact with, you know, people that I normally wouldn't interact with, and it made it really exciting.

 

Savannah:

Now, I wanted to ask, we have a lot of different artists, especially DJs that use us and they've been turning towards, you know, virtual dance parties live streams, because they have to right now. I wanted to ask if since you guys have experienced with that, and you you know what it's like learning and starting out if there's any tips or suggestions you have for these creators out there wanting to put on their own virtual dance party for the first time.

You know, where would they start or what they should know?

 

Devin: 

They should start if they want to make it interesting, a lot of people are using green screen, which in the film world is like a green backdrop that allows you to sort of trance, transpose the background to like something cool. That's not just like your living room.

So I would say maybe look into the green screen, it's actually really easy to use. It's not that difficult. There's so many videos online to make cool green screen videos. I would say, maybe just add like a little maybe like talk a little bit more about your artistic and creative process, we realize that people really like hearing about that stuff. And just be original, be unique. Be yourself. And, um, you know, YouTube is your best friend for learning any sort of video streaming skills.

You know, one of my biggest regrets is not a regret, but like, I kind of regret going to college and paying so much money for college because everything's available on YouTube now. And granted, college was a great experience. But like everything that I feel like I learned in college, I can definitely have learned on the internet now.

That's just my two cents about college. 

But, but yeah, I mean, do a lot of research. There's resources out there and be original. I think that's what I would say.

 

Savannah:

Nice. And I agree with whenever I think about college, I think my biggest regret and we're just putting this out there. My biggest regret is not doing like a gap year, you know, and instead of jumping right in taking that year to like, figure out who you are.

 

Devin:

Exactly.

 

Savannah:

And then the other thing I wanted to ask touching on like these different events you've been mentioning, correct me if I'm wrong, I think you had an event in San Antonio, the electric cookout, correct?

 

Devin:

That is correct.

 

Savannah:

Okay, is that of the event where you partnered with CLEAR? I wanted to ask about that, because that sounded really cool for their health passes. I wanted to hear more about that and what you guys did.

 

Devin:

That was a crazy experience, because it was all ages. And because we wanted to I mean, Texas, last minute, like two weeks before the show, they were like, you can't ask people to do any of this. People should be able to not wear masks, people should be able to not have to fill out a health questionnaire, that sort of stuff.

So we had spent months kind of like getting this together with CLEAR, but people used it anyway, which was great. But essentially it's a way to safely secure some of your health information including like a negative test and proof of vaccination.

And basically you just upload that information and the screen turns green, which means you're allowed to enter the event. This technology was not being used at any music festivals were the first one to really use it. And it is going to be the future of music festivals, I think. And it's going to be the future - well they're using it now, stadiums and baseball games and concert halls and stuff.

But for the for, as we sort of leave the tail end of COVID I believe that these passports or mobile solutions are going to give people a peace of mind to get back into large spaces.

And it's going to give, you know, venues, some, you know, liability help. So that like if they entered the venue they've they've made made a health declaration or that they've been vaccinated, or if they have a proof of negative test. These sorts of things, I think will help us get back to live events. And I believe there are certainly going to be around for the future, especially for even like flying into another country and that sort of stuff.

 

Savannah: 

So with the with this technology, did you just tell like the the guests and advanced to use it or what?

 

Devin:

Yeah, we communicated all that stuff. It's all done through an app, you get a special code for the event, enter the code, you do health questionnaire, or you upload your negative test or your vaccine, that sort of stuff. And, yeah, it was very, it was a very simple process.

But it took, you know, a couple weeks to really get implemented on the technology side was CLEAR, but all in all, it was a great experience.

 

Savannah:

And so did they have to the you require it like they have to do it to enter?

 

Devin:

We didn't require it. Because it's Texas, is Texas. You cannot do that.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I was going to ask. 

 

Devin:

But most people took advantage of it, because we offered like extra benefits, like special viewing area, dedicated viewing, dedicated edge entry lines. So we wanted to give people incentive to get back outside, but do it do it in a healthy and safe way.

 

Savannah:

What a great idea. That's so cool. Yeah, you guys should definitely, definitely capitalize on that. That it's the first you know. 

 

Devin: 

Yeah, we did. 

 

Savannah: 

Yeah, look what we're doing! Yeah, I noticed that right away. And I was like, I've never heard of that. That's, that's genius.

And then so you've been doing other cool events. So you've done like, you've talked about the driving raves, which is really cool. And then I think I saw somewhere that you guys did, like dance pods.

 

Devin:

Yeah, so we did a pod rave. So up in Fresno County, California, where you basically come with your pot of friends, and you stay within tight, you go to this pod area sectioned off, and you stay with that pod the entire time of the show.

And, you know, you can obviously can go get a drink or stuff. But we had people just come with pods. And we're happy to say that that actually helped, helped a lot. And we didn't have any cases reported anything like that. We did it because it helps with contact tracing. If there was something that happened, we could easily we can easily trace it back to who you're with and who are you around?

And we are Yeah, we It was really excited to do something like that. So we did drive ins, we've done pods, we've done like, you know, the electric cookout with the health pass. But coming up in LA and San Diego, all we're going to need and ask for is that you wear a mask on entry and get a temperature check and you show a proof of vaccination or negative test. And then if you got all that you can dance the night away.

 

Savannah:

So jealous. I'm ready. One day! 

 

Devin: 

I think we're all ready.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, it's gonna be a good party when we get there.

 

Devin:

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Savannah:

Now, as an event marketer, I did also wanted to ask if you've seen a shift in how we market or how have you been promoting events in 2021, or how you think if there's going to be a changing?

 

Devin: 

Yeah health and safety is going to be the number one priority for in person events. So there's going to be a there's gonna be an emphasis on that for sure. People that, promoters and are going to market events as safe, safe events. And I think a lot of them are going to require that health pass that I was talking about.

And then as for the live events. I think, you know, I think the feature of live events are going to stay around for our future of live stream events are going to stay around but I do feel like they're not going to they're going to they're going to be there but not going to be as like as prevalent as they were during COVID, and quarantine, because there's there's real life out there.

And people want to experience that in real in real time and in the flesh. So I think there's gonna be some live streams definitely still, but not as many as there were, as it were during quarantine.

 

Savannah:

Yes, I definitely think in the future, it's going to be always like hybrid options too.

 

Devin:

Hmmm, yeah.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, people. I've talked to a lot of people and they've definitely, people who didn't even want to, like do streams at all. They didn't want to have anything to do with it. But now they're like, Oh, I'm reaching so much more people. I've definitely will be doing a live stream and in person. So something good came out of it, I guess.

And my final question I wanted to leave you with you guys also have experienced with virtual concerts.

 

Devin:

Yeah.

 

Savannah:

You've posted that in the past. I want to touch on that. Because that's a that's a big event, I want to see if you could just mention the technology behind them that that makes it such an immersive experience.

 

Devin:

Oh wow, I mean.

 

Savannah:

It's a big question. But if someone's trying to put on a virtual concert, what type of technology they might be prepared to or what they should know.

 

Devin:

See, we use professionals for this on, as they were, you know, these were 3D. These were like, custom built stages. These were, it was absolutely insane what we did with the virtual stages, but
yeah, I would say partner with like a design house if you can, or someone who's like really good at animations, like because the stuff that we were doing for these virtual concerts were really next level. It's such new technology. And they were using sort of the, what they call is the Unreal Engine.

And that's basically what they use in video games to create video games.

 

Savannah:

Wow. Ok, don't do it alone. Find a partner. 

 

Devin: 

Basically, yeah.

 

Savannah:

I mean, sometimes you just need that good partner, like with you guys. Sometimes if you don't know what's happening. You need it, it's worth it. It's worth it to have someone by your side helping you walk through it, through the challenges.

Okay, awesome, is, there's anything else you want to put out into the world for our listeners, specifically, you know, our creators our artists our DJs, during this time that's so unknown, and just
who are navigating it and all the challenges anything else you would like to tell them or tips or just some positive energy?

 

Devin:

Absolutely, I would say, you really never know when, or what life has in store for you. And you really have to be open to new experiences and believe that anything is possible. And sometimes it's really hard to do that.

But I think if you really have, if you're really passionate about something, you shouldn't be afraid to chase it. And you should really be open to new opportunities, especially if it aligns with what you believe in and your values and stuff that you're passionate about.

I think life is so short, that we should enjoy doing things that we love. And if if you're not, are you really living, you know, you have to ask yourself that. Are you really are you really living if you're not doing something that you love. So take advantage of those opportunities. Be risky, and be open. And you never know what life will bring yeah.

 

Savannah: 

Oh, great advice. Oh, it was great talking to you. I know you are a busy, busy person. So I will let you get back to work. And enjoy your day. Hopefully you're having great weather. Go out. Get some sunshine.

 

Devin:

Yeah, I think so. I think that's needed.

 

Savannah:

Get some vitamin D.

 

Devin:

Yeah, for sure.

 

Savannah:

Okay. Well Enjoy the rest of your day. And thank you so much. Bye.

 


Show Notes

EDM Maniac: 

About EDM Maniac 

 

Health screening technology: 

CLEAR Health Pass

Get started on PurplePass

Find the solution that's right for you so you can boost sales, grow your business, and start selling in minutes.

FIND OUR MORE