Nightclub people theoretically spend a lot of energy thinking outside the box to further their brand and better their revenue streams. The good folks at Pacha in New York City are being forced to think way outside the box, as their box – Pacha, is not physically big enough to accommodate the DJ's that they have access to or the crowds that want what they provide. Shows like Aviccii at Radio City, Erick Morillo and Chuckie on Governors Island and the All Mixed Up, Alesso and Otto Knows shows coming this Halloween to the 400,000 square foot Nassau Coliseum and Pier 94 are all too big for their big club. Some of these shows are being booked way in advance as the club has transcended its original confines and has become a concept as well as a space.
Rob Fernandez works closely with Pacha NYC owner Eddie Dean to bring us more than we could have ever imagined.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): Pacha is the big boy in the House, EDM market in NYC. You have expanded and are now doing events outside of the limitations of Pachas space. Tell us about the big shows produced outside of Pacha four walls.
Rob Fernandez: Shows outside of Pacha include two Avicii shows at Radio City, Steve Angello Size at the Park Rumsey play field in Central Park, All Mixed UP, Sebastian Ingrosso, Alesso and Otto Knows at Pier 94, Dirty South at Roseland Ballroom, Erick Morillo and Chuckie at Governors Island and we have an event scheduled for December which will be the biggest EDM event ever in Manhattan! We also will return with two big shows from last year - New Years Eve of Pier 94 and May 2013 EDC NY at MetLife Stadium. Many of the DJs who we have worked with over the years in this area are now huge. Steve Angello, who we used to have at little Cielo, sold out Central Park in minutes. Sebastian Ingrosso shows at Pier 94 will be a monster show this Halloween (and he's playing Nassau Coliseum too). It's really gratifying to see - of course I make sure to take all the credit for these guys success whenever I can.
NCC: How do these big shows impact the brand? Do you believe that it will drive your normal club business or is that DJ dependent? How much of your crowd will show up no matter who is playing?
Fernandez: Right now at Pacha we would do about 2000 on a Saturday and 1500 people on a Friday without a DJ - that's if we booked a chimp banging on a drum. You can imagine the battle we have with agents. If we have 2200 people on a Friday night the agent will say "you should pay the DJ $X he drew 2200 people" and I say "but 1500 would be there anyway - so he only drew 700 people."
Rob Fernandez and Eddie Dean
NCC: You guys own the North American rights to the brand and now you have forayed to other zip codes but so far have been reluctant to open a venue out of town. Tell me about these forays and the reasons you aren’t singing Viva Las Vegas, buying salt water taffy in A.C. or basking by the beach in Miami?
Fernandez: When the right opportunity presents itself we will branch out into other markets but it has to be the 100% right situation not 95%. Eddie Dean heads Pacha North America he is very protective of the brand which has a 45 year history. Entering a new market requires a lot of work and we don’t take it lightly. Maintaining our place in the NY market is a full-time job and after seven years it still requires all of our attention. Crobar was once king of the hill, Twilo too, we know what can happen when you take your eye off the ball.
NCC: Eddie Dean is the man in the Pacha brand that gets attention on some levels but on the street Rob Fernandez' name is also very relevant. How did you grow from promoter to mogul and where does Eddie end in the organization and Rob begin?
Fernandez: As you know I’m a lifelong promoter who got into this because I loved it more than making a living. My very first weekly party in NYC at Sound Factory Bar had Danny Tenaglia and Erick Morillo as residents and I still work with them 'til this day. I’m very fortunate to have worked with them. My association with those two guys opened doors for me. Many of the top house guys played for me mainly because I was the guy who promoted Be Yourself and Subliminal Sessions (sort of like most of the top trance guys went to Mike Bindra because of his association with PVD and others). I can really never thank them enough.
Eddie is the main owner of Pacha NY and deals with the headaches that come with it. He is really the best club operator in the business. Eddie and I have a promotions company (RPM) and we produce around 200 events a year. He makes the deals and oversees much of business while I deal with marketing, promotions and DJ bookings but sometimes it overlaps. Actually, because Eddie spends so much time in Ibiza, he does my job for me now - he booked Knife Party and he brought Luciano to Pacha NY and Afrojack too. Andrew Inomata heads our marketing team which we believe is the best in the business. We think of ourselves as an ad agency for dance music more than event promoters. We love to put our heads together and create campaigns for these shows; it's really what separates us from our competition.
NCC: Tell me about the up and comers... the DJ's that will sell out Pacha and the bigger events in years to come.
Fernandez: This is happening so fast - the up and comers become hits instantly thanks to social media. A DJ like r3hab one year ago was an up and comer and now he can sell out any room in NYC. Alesso first played Pacha NY last summer but now he sells out Governors Island and Pier 94. Honestly, they keep getting younger and younger. Hardwell is a young guy, only 24, and has been around over a decade. Porter Robinson is playing at Pacha for the first time this fall - he's 21 and I feel like we've been trying to book him for four years. People don’t understand right now some of these kids can sell out stadiums.
NCC: EDM is a worldwide movement. Has it left some of the traditional house DJ's in the background and do these DJ's need to adjust to this huge wave or will old school always have a place?
Fernandez: The old school will always have a place but my feeling is if they don't adjust that place may become smaller. It's a very fine line. If you start catering to the younger generation you may lose your core fans. DJs get older... their fans become older and they are replaced by new guys. It happens to promoters too (gulp). Many of the old school guys are DJs first who became producers, and the new generation are producers who became DJs - so it must kill a lot of the older guys to see these young kids who aren't in the same league with them as DJs now getting more bookings and more money.
But with these new young kids in the scene it is great for everybody, new school and old school, the commercial acts introduce kids to the scene and then they can discover other genres and other DJ's. There's never been a better time. I grew up in this town and was there back in the golden years of dance music in NYC and our DJs used to complain "how come all these kids like hip-hop more?" thats not the case anymore.