• ID&T

    ID&T and Q-Dance 

    Yesterday is history, today is a gift, tomorrow is a mystery

    Nearly 80,000 tickets sold in under two hours, now for the fifth yearin a row. Sensation White and Black. Renting the Amsterdam ArenA (the 50,000-seat football stadium that is home to Ajax, the Amsterdam football team) for three weeks to build up, hold and take down two mega dance parties. This means 80,000 people who bought a ticket for €56. And 80,000 people who spent at least €100 each on clothing especially for the event and then spent another €50 each for beverages and food. And afterwards they bought the DVD of the event and now receive the ID&T magazine at home. This is the experience economy in its finest form!


    In the early 1990s, hardcore house music broke through in the Netherlands. Irfan van Ewijk, Duncan Stutterheim and Theo Lelie (their first initials make up the name ID&T) were so passionate about this music that they organised their own houseparty in the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht in 1992, meant as a graduation party for everyone who managed to pass their final exams that year. They each borrowed 40,000 guilders from their parents and, despite the warnings from family and friends, their secondary school graduation party The Final Exam was a success, with 8,000 people attending. They earned nearly 50,000 guilders: buckets of money for the schoolboys.

    After this initial success the three founders wanted to organise even bigger ‘raves’. And big they were, with names like Thunderdome, Global Hardcore Nation, Mystery Land, Speed Razor and Earthquake. New products such as CDs, magazines and other merchandise were added to discover the needs of a whole new subculture, known as the ‘Gabbers’.

    Thunder Magazine became the best-selling dance magazine in the Netherlands, with more than 30,000 subscribers. But then the market changed. The hype around hardcore house music came to an end, and to secure its future, ID&T (which had in the meantime become an organisation employing over 50 people) had to respond to that challenge. The founders decided to start focusing on other music styles, and in 1999 they organised ‘Innercity’ in Amsterdam RAI. It was a risk: never before had such a massive indoor party been organised with various musical styles but not including hardcore house music. Even so, ID&T tried it, and with success. It was the largest indoor dance party ever held.

    New ‘experience’ offers followed, such as Trance Energy, Shockers, andMassive and Convertible. The latest events, Sensation White and Sensation Black,each drew40,000 people who danced from 10 pm until 7 am the following day. For the last several years, the tickets for Sensation White have sold out within a couple of minutes.

    Inspired by their mega success, ID&T introduced its own radio station ID&T Radio (later called SLAM!FM—it was sold in 2006), another two magazines, the beach club Bloomingdale and a restaurant, Madame Jeanette, while an old movie theatre, the Cineac, was transformed into a Moulin Rouge-style bar, restaurant and nightclub. In the meantime, ID&T has got rid of all non-core activities since it turned out that running a radio station, restaurants, bars and nightclubs demanded other competencies than the core competency of creating a “release experience” and organising mega dance parties. ID&T has essentially transformed the entire ‘dance’ market. KPMG estimated the value of this sector in 2002 at €500 million in the Netherlands alone.

                The year 2005 marked the beginning of a new period for ID&T, a period of consolidation, of limiting themselves to what they were really good at: organising mega dance parties and rolling out the Sensation White concept around the world. Meanwhile, Duncan Stutterheim also had acquired a 50% interest in ID&T’s sister company Q-Dance.

    Q-Dance was founded in 1998 by three enthusiastic and enterprising young fans of dance music, who wanted to start organising events of their own: Wouter Tavecchio (CEO), Wildrik Timmerman (Financial Director) and Tamil van Draanen (Technical Director). Q-Dance followed a course all its own: everything they did was tested against personal criteria: 1) Do we think it’s good ourselves? 2) Does the public like it? Thanks to the innovative way in which the people at Q-Dance looked at electronic dance music, Q-Dance created its own market. Despite the shares held by Duncan Stutterheim, Q-Dance has followed its own course, having remained independent, with a separate executive board. By now, both companies are equal in size and in mid-2006 they decided to merge, albeit with both brands being positioned separately.

                The brand ID&T is characterised by top-down communication, although ID&T, too, is being found online more and more by its visitors. ID&T appeals to a wide range of young people (18-35 years old) thanks to its broad musical programming. The company also has a commercial press policy.

    In contrast, Q-Dance is widely considered to be underground, which means that a bottom-up communication strategy is pursued. There is a no-press policy and the programming is less broad, which means the company operates on a more specialised level. With its programming of hard dance music, Q-Dance attracts primarily a younger group of visitors (17-26 years old). The most important difference is that where ID&T appeals to a diverse group with a concept for every type of dancer, Q-Dance organises one kind of event for a homogeneous group of young people.

                The brand mission of ID&T is ‘release’, with the target group responding to the values: ‘dynamic’, ‘commercial’, ‘successful’, ‘quality’ and ‘creative’. The brand mission of Q-Dance is expressed as ‘goose bumps for young people who aren’t easily impressed’, with the target group responding to the values: ‘rugged’, ‘hard’, ‘quality’, ‘intense’ and ‘innovative’. The most important developments in the target groups of ID&T and Q-Dance are: individualising and personalising, digitising, ‘massclusivity’ (i.e. mass social experience + exclusivity); the needs are characterised by high quality, luxury, prestige, memorable experiences, a lack of sensitivity to marketing, celebrating togetherness, designing your own life, trust in people like me; the use of media involves less TV and newspapers and more Internet, MSN, games and mobile phones.

                The ‘dance’ market in the Netherlands is massive. No other country in the world has such a ‘dance’ culture (in terms of electronic dance music) as we do here in tiny Holland. The ‘dance’ providers in the Netherlands serve a group of people between 15 and 35 years old. This group includes some 5 million people, about half of whom is interested in ‘dance’. ID&T and Q-Dance alone already put on 35 events a year that attract some 550,000 young people and thus represent 60% of the total Dutch ‘dance’ market. This market is extremely interesting for many parties. ID&T and Q-Dance thus have access to the youth market, whereas many companies no longer have contact with that group since they do not ‘speak their language’. ID&T and Q-Dance understand their target group and know how to touch those young people like no others. The biggest asset in terms of commercial partners/sponsors is therefore that both brands can offer easy access to young people who are otherwise difficult to reach.

    What does ID&T offer its fans?

    What exactly does ID&T offer its fans? An environment where people who share the same values can meet each other. ID&T and Q-Dance events are experienced as meaningful. In their own different ways, they each offer an outlet, an escape from the daily grind (see the clip on the DVD), a platform for ‘togetherness’. They offer an environment that appeals to the senses, that you can tell stories about, a sometimes imposing setting where people can dance in a controlled environment, can express themselves in the way they dress and can let it all loose (‘release’). The values are: ‘intuition’, ‘dynamic’, ‘creative’, ‘unexpected’ and ‘no boundaries’. Every time, ID&T and Q-Dance make sure their parties are surprising in terms of themes, decoration and line-ups. There is an atmosphere and a culture of ‘anything goes’, which is appealing to a large, youthful public. In short, they know how to reach young people.

    What does this mean for the people who work at ID&T and Q-Dance?

    Naturally this all means that there is a culture in which flexibility and creativity is inherent. It is a culture of ‘anything goes’, and if you can imagine it, there’s no reason why you can’t pull it off. At the foundation of that culture are the Ten Commandments that Duncan Stutterheim defined internally with his people at ID&T. Until recently, those were:

    1. Yesterday is history, today is a gift, tomorrow is a mystery.
    2. Only God can judge us.
    3. Our quality is quality.
    4. We are exclusively for everyone.
    5. We are larger than life.
    6. We introduce new things.
    7. Do what you aren’t supposed to do.
    8. Show your emotions.
    9. We get you moving.
    10. Keep the dark side intact.

    The difficulty, as we see it, it how to manage such a culture successfully in a business sense.

    How is money being made?

    ID&T and Q-Dance are convinced that it is part of their core-business to create meaning for a large group young people in society who are at the point of giving direction to their lives. These companies play a role in that process. They create an environment and a social group to which people can belong and in which they can participate. They are expecting a turnover of €30 million in 2007. And there are great expectations in terms of the internationalisation of Sensation. The merger was already completed in October 2006, and the total group is looking forward to a successful year with the focus being on organising good events.

    Since the other activities (e.g. Bloomingdale and Cineac) didn’t bring what was expected from them, they were disposed of. It will be a challenge for the team of ID&T and Q-Dance to continue their past successes. Will there still be a market for mega dance parties? Certainly on an international level, but developments in the Netherlands are showing that smaller parties and the club experience are becoming more popular.