Ultra Music Festival announced that the three-day electronic dance event in Miami would swell to two weekends in 2013, a move organizers tell The Huffington Post was in direct response to ever-increasing demand for the normally sold-out party.
The event will run from March 15-17 and reconvene for a second go on March 22-24 in Miami's Bayfront Park. Tickets go on sale Wednesday.
Though comparisons to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival -- North America's pre-eminent mainstream music festival, which has expanded to two weekends and a cruise -- immediately come to mind, Ultra executives maintain that they were not simply following in the footsteps its West Coast counterpart.
"Just because [Coachella] was successful doesn't mean anyone else will be," Adam Russakoff, UMF's executive producer told The Huffington Post in an exclusive post-announcement interview. "I think where we get our confidence from is that Ultra's growth is very slow and steady. In no way are we overconfident that this will be successful, though we are sure hopeful."
The logistical challenges incumbent in throwing an event like Ultra -- which takes place in the heart of Miami -- are truly daunting. Last year's event drew 165,000 people and attendance has increased each year for the past five years. But Russakoff and Russell Faibisch, UMF's co-founder, president and CEO, said they didn't face much of a battle getting Miami-Dade County to agree to the expanded schedule.
"We've been working on this project for awhile now," Faibisch explained. "Definitely since before the last Ultra, or before that. Maybe late 2011, early 2012.
"Once we saw the demand for tickets and knew that we had limited capacity, because of the venue and the logistics, this was something interested us greatly," Russakoff continued. "The sentiment within the city government was to do it one year at the new venue, see how it goes, and if it goes well, to double down. After it was a huge success logistically and financially for the city, combined with generally happy neighbors and local industries, the city decided to give us the go-ahead to do it this year."
Ultra moved back to the Bayfront Park location last year, after six years at the Bicentennial Park. The city's eagerness to welcome revelers back for an extra weekend shouldn't be too surprising: A recent economic impact study found that the festival pumps upwards of 915 jobs and $79 million into South Florida.
But what of the ever-popular theory that America's seemingly sudden interest in dance music (or EDM, as it's colloquially, if reductively, referred to) is a temporary fascination? The executives were quick to note that Ultra is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. "I think you're always conscious of what's going on in the outside world, and what the perception is commercially," Russakoff said. "I think it's very important to nurture the up-and-coming talent. Ultra is a festival unlike any other. It's not as mainstream as Coachella, and it's not as underground as some of the electronic-only festivals. We have a very unique slant with the program that we push out."
Faibisch declined to comment on UMF's revenue and profit figures. "One thing that I can say is that it's extremely, extremely expensive to produce this festival," he said.
"Being in the heart of a metropolis like we are, it may very well be the most expensive festival in the United States," Russakoff added. (UMF's biggest competitor, Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival, takes place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, removed from the Vegas strip.)
Last year's festival included sets by Avicii, Skrillex, David Guetta, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, New Order and Kraftwek. Madonna made a surprise appearance. Russakoff and Faibisch were unable to tease any 2013 lineup news, as discussions with talent have not yet matured past "conversations." They did reveal that the event would not follow Coachella's model of two identical weekends.
"I think the goal here is really two unique experiences," Russakoff said. "We thought it would be really cool to have headline artist play the main stage slot one weekend and give them a different look and arena [for the next weekend], to mix it up. What we're looking to do, is, no matter what weekend you go, you'll be able to see your favorite artist. But you will see them in different environments."