Industry Focus: Diego Martinelli, Miami's Promoter With An Underground Edge

Martinelli has been bringing top shelf underground events to Miami for over a decade
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Martinelli has been bringing top shelf underground events to Miami for over a decade
Miami's Underground Advocate: Diego Martinelli   Photo by Cafeteria Films

Miami's Underground Advocate: Diego Martinelli   Photo by Cafeteria Films

I've known Diego Martinelli for a long time, and I've always been impressed with his die-hard commitment to underground dance music and lesser known artists. When many other clubs were booking the superstars, Martinelli was finding the new ones and pushing sounds that still had not caught on with the mainstream dance music fans. If you want to know what's next, or what's on the cutting edge of electronic music, head to one of his parties and you'll get a full dose of incredible music. 

I caught up with Martinelli to get a couple of questions in as he gears up for yet another Miami Music Week. 

How did you start your career in the electronic music business?

As a kid, every dollar that became mine was spent on music product. I caught the DJing bug from a cousin. Growing up in Miami, I got to experience dance music at clubs like Groove Jet, Liquid and Shadow Lounge. Dance music and DJ culture became a fascination in my late teens. Just a few years later in 2001, I was given the opportunity to be the events director at Space Miami. At that point, I left college and never looked back.

What is the best part of the business?

Playing a key part in creating life affirming experiences. There is nothing like witnessing the delight and appreciation of impassioned patrons at our events. We also love being able to provide a platform for remarkable lesser known talents.

What are the biggest challenges?

Vying for the scattered attentions of today’s youth, especially with all the bigger budget trash culture out there. Marketing and growing the reach of an underground music project can be a funny thing, but certainly not impossible to do without compromise.

What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?

Be kind to all, be mindful and operate fearlessly from the heart. Identify what energizes you and vet your intentions. Ask yourself: Does it feel right? It’s also very important to have a working understanding of where the music came from and how it all came to be.

As the EDM industry continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?

Keen understandings of contexts and nuances, and how they relate to internet educated/enabled consumers who become more individualized by the minute. Understand that, as Terre Thaemlitz stated: music is hyper-specific. Constant evolving and adapting, as well as understanding how technology and the internet will continue to alter our realities. Last but not least: take big chances on ideas and acts you believe in.

Did you start off as a fan of electronic music and then became involved on the business side, or did business bring you into the electronic music world? Describe that process.

I was definitely a fan of the music first, but it didn’t take long until I wanted to be immersed in the business of it. Meeting Carmel Ophir (whom at the time was bringing major international DJ talent to Miami) when I was still a teenager validated the idea of all of this as a career for me. It was the first time I received any real insight into the work. I remember coming home that night and telling my parents I had an idea for something tangible I could do with my life.

What does electronic music mean to you?

Electronic music recordings created with genuine intention are communications of human emotion. How we experience and respond to music are the most exciting explorations of all to me. It’s an essential component of the human experience. There are recordings that I cherish and simply could not imagine my life without.

If you weren’t in the music biz, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be hanging around with neuroscientists and Buddhist scholars.