Photo credit: Slake NYC
Welcome to Magnetic’s Industry Focus, a series where we highlight the major players working behind the scenes of the EDM biz. These are the folks running the record labels, representing the artists, promoting the shows and just getting it done. Today, we highlight Michael C. Morello, General Manager of Webster Hall's new venue: Slake NYC.
How did you start your career in nightlife?
My career in nightlife started when an actor buddy of mine, Rawb Lane aka #boatswag haha, told me about Webster Hall. I was new to NYC and he said they were hiring. I walked down 11th St one Friday night to meet the 6'3" legendary GM Gerard McNamee aka Gerard Gerard . He eyed me up and down in my very New Jersey typical attire and said "What do wanna do here?" I said "Anything..." To which he replied, "....good answer." I spent 8 plus years working my way from bar back through several positions to manager at Webster Hall and as of a year ago the GM of their new venue, Slake at 251 West 30th St. Tom Ballinger, owner of WH and Slake, also good friend of mine has been a great supporter of my career in nightlife and without a doubt a main reason why at 27 years old I get to run such a legitimate operation.
What is the best part of the business?
The best part of the business in my opinion is that it will forever be evolving. I've seen clubs first hand go from bottle service oriented to resident DJ oriented to big EDM DJ oriented to boutique DJ oriented (the term I'm coining for local DJs with some street cred) and then back to being all about the venue itself.
What are the biggest challenges?
Nightlife has challenges like no other industry I've worked in before. The hours, the urgency, the authorities, overlapping events, operations designs, the personalities. The list goes on. The challenges I prefer are the ones that come when everyone is bearing their weight within the company and we have to juggle all of the business coming our way. Reversing my schedule to a day schedule during the week and a night schedule on weekends week after week also takes a toll but then again I wouldn't have it any other way.
What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?
Do the ground work. Learn every piece of the puzzle before demanding things and getting ahead of yourself. Many come and go so if you can stay calm and do the work you'll make the cut and be recognized. Handle yourself professionally and don't take things personally. Lastly I'd say stay hydrated.
As the EDM industry continues to grow, how do you see nightlife evolving with the genre?
EDM was made for clubs. There's not many places you can go to hear grand variety of sounds within these tracks outside of a club with a half a million dollar sound system. We saw big room create the festival explosion but now that the sound is a little deeper it seems to be making its way back to clubs. You may find that the shows reputation be better held against the promoter than the venue or act. Promoters like Ladyfag, Resolut, Blk Market, GBH, Area Events, the list goes on, all have their own vibe and talents. People seem to trust that. The production at large says a lot and goes a long way. DJs come and go. The best of them become legend in their own right.
What does electronic music mean to you?
For me electronic music is technology helping music evolve. It is the future of music. It's new sounds, new instruments and it's becoming easier and easier for ANYONE to make it. Whether it's good or not is another story.. Personally I'm fascinated with the DJ gear and engineering software. You might find me jumping on with our residents Cameron Kush and Jergo if they are in a giving mood. ahaha.
Can you describe a typical work night for you at Slake NYC?
A typical night at Slake is, Electric Zoo gets cancelled at 3p. I get a call at 4p from our talent buyer and the owner simultaneously telling me I need to be staffed and ready to open at 6p.... But we do it no sweat because that's what we do. This obviously doesn't happen every night but when I think about the nights that test us...they typically go like that.
Where do you see the most innovation in the EDM industry (i.e. Music, experience, nightclubs, behind the scenes, etc) and why?
The most innovation I see is in the technology of ticket sales & data analytics. Email lists are becoming nurtured to be so specific. Buying a ticket is 2 swipes of the finger on your phone. You don't even need to print it out these days. It's convenient. There's some great apps out there taking the market by storm, Nightup & Tablelist to name a few.