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CASE: ADE in Felix Meritis


The Amsterdam Dance Event is the premier international conference for electronic music, doubling as a dance festival and networking event for the global music industry. An annual event, 2020 marked its 25th edition.


With roughly half a million attendees each year, ADE places our capital city as the pulsating heart of electronic music on the global stage. ADE generally consists of both a daytime and nighttime program, with the conference portion held at Felix Meritis and the nighttime program taking place at various locations throughout the city. However, COVID-19 necessitated a completely different approach to organizing the milestone edition than originally planned.

“We realized shortly after the lockdown that everything had to be done differently. Then there was a period where steering became difficult. Basically, nobody knew what would and wouldn’t be possible in October. In June, we decided to take an online-first approach. Until almost the day before launch, we still had about 50 seated live events scheduled, which we had to cancel at the last minute,” explained the co-directors, Meindert Kennis and Jan Willem van de Ven.


October 21-25, 2020


Felix Meritis


“For the festival aspect, we wanted to create the feeling that there is so much to see and do that you always feel like you’re missing out on something. Just like at a real festival, you’re immersed from one piece of content to another. For the conference, we wanted to not only prioritize knowledge sharing but also facilitate personal connections and ensure that we could make meaningful connections between people.”

ADE in Felix Meritis Trappenhuis - Tim Buiting
ADE in Felix Meritis Trappenhuis – Tim Buiting

Challenges and Solutions

Felix Meritis had been the heart of ADE for years, and the renovation was completed just in time to host the 2020 milestone edition of ADE. “The building is stunning, and I can’t wait to see it in its full glory next year during ADE,” Meindert said. Despite the absence of a live audience, the venue exuded the ADE atmosphere. The branding with the yellow blocks was evident throughout Felix Meritis. “It all came together perfectly; you immediately got the ADE feeling. That was something really beautiful.” There were numerous uncertain factors at play. Meindert noted, “We had to shift from expertise to a sort of TV production. No one had done a TV production before. That’s why we’re particularly proud that we pulled it off.” Some of the technical aspects were facilitated by Felix Meritis. For the festival component, a platform was created with an overwhelming amount of content presented in an unstructured manner. “We didn’t hold the visitor’s hand, which actually made you feel overwhelmed.” The conference section was behind a paywall and offered a LinkedIn-like environment with networking opportunities and job postings. One of the highlights was the comprehensive online panel discussion featuring Martin Garrix, Timbaland, and David Guetta. While this production brought its fair share of tension, it ultimately went off without a hitch.


Despite all the limitations imposed by COVID-19, the anniversary edition of ADE was a success. Around 3000 professionals were part of the online conference platform. Each day, 5 to 6 discussions, keynotes, and masterclasses were recorded. For three days straight, there was a livestream from the Zuilenzaal in Felix Meritis between 13:00 and 20:00.

Next year, an online-first approach is planned once again. Meindert remarked, “We were particularly proud of recording the panel discussions in Felix Meritis, and we’d like to do this again next year. Not only because it’s so cool, but also to allow people from around the world who can’t easily come to Amsterdam for a week to be part of ADE.”

Key Facts

3 days of recordings and live broadcasts Complete audiovisual package, studio setting with 4 cameras Thousands of online participants Venue fully branded for ADE Catering provided for the crew throughout the day


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