Mark Netto

Thanks to Mom!


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For raver Mark Netto, Ibiza was everything he ever wanted. But now, he is working on turning the clubbing island back into an island of music.

  • Author: Janna Cramer

The raver and his mother, that’s how this story really got its start. It’s the story of how Mark Netto, who would ultimately become a music manager, fell in love with Ibiza. Back in the mid-1990s, his mother gave him a trip to the island for his 21st birthday, and then joined him for the trip. Mark Netto couldn’t believe his luck. At the time, Ibiza was widely known for its parties and seen as an El Dorado for electro-music fans. And it was exactly for those reasons that Mark was so excited for his vacation.

And perhaps more than just excited. “When I came here, I was totally obsessed with good parties, and I was ready to turn my life upside down,” Netto says today. “I wanted to completely plunge into this Ibiza life.”

And he stayed

Initially, the jobs he found didn’t look like they would amount to much. “I drove DJs around and hung up decorations in Pacha,” he recalls. But sometimes, the little things that can be stepping stones to success. Mark Netto went on to become one of the chief program managers for Pacha, a legendary club on Ibiza that is known far and wide for its logo (two red cherries). “I booked the DJs, designed the programs and started Pacha’s own DJ agency,” he says.

The right place at the right time, Mark Netto was both. Around that period, near the turn of the millennium, the Pacha franchise system began gathering steam, with branches and new clubs in London, Mallorca and Brazil. And Mark Netto had found his calling: moving Ibiza forward. Not just throwing parties, but transforming Ibiza into the island of music. “The island is increasingly becoming a melting pot,” says the 41-year-old. Rap, techno and indie are the current musical influences, he says. Ibiza has long since ceased being a one-dimensional electro hotspot.

He established a conference for the electro-scene’s business leaders

For erstwhile raver Mark Netto, it is a dream come true. Which is also why he — a normal guy from Johannesburg, South Africa with a far-reaching vision — ultimately outgrew Pacha. Eight years ago, he developed the International Music Summit Ibiza, a conference where big names from the electro-music industry meet to look at the business side of things. “More than anything, it is a platform for open discussion,” says Netto. In addition to discussing which new producers are on the rise, they also talk about issues like drug abuse at festivals and the potential effects that a legalization of marijuana or other substances might have. Just as he once did with Pacha, Mark Netto has now made this conference into a successful export. Businesspeople have indicated interest around the world, and in October, a conference is scheduled to take place in Shanghai.

Netto’s influence is growing — and he doesn’t shy away from it. Which is why it only makes sense that he founded his own management agency three or four years ago: IBZ Entertainment. “Right now, we are managing ten artists,” he says. His artist portfolio reflects the colorful and varied music offerings available on the Balearic Islands. “We are very open and manage people from the EDM, rap and Indie scenes.” He tells his artists to plunge completely into their passion and to work together with other artists. “They have to totally throw themselves into their creativity,” he says. Twenty years ago, Netto says, artists were able to earn money by selling albums. But today, that’s not enough anymore. In order to do well on the market, the creative spirit has to be helped with targeted promotion. That, Netto believes, is his job.

“The clubs here on Ibiza are the backbone of the nightlife,” he says. But he still believes the trend is heading toward more live music and more entertainment in the afternoons and early evenings. “That will continue to be the case in the coming years,” Netto says.

Is electro-music losing its soul? No, says Mark Netto

Once again, Ibiza isn’t big enough for his agency and Netto is looking elsewhere. “We have partners in the US as well, where electronic music is becoming increasingly popular,” he says. The Americans are discovering the art of the turntable for themselves and more and more American tourists are coming to the island, spending huge amounts of money in the clubs — and robbing electro-music of its soul, according to the critics, at least. “That’s bullshit,” says Netto. “Every bit of interest in the scene is a good thing.” Ibiza has become home for Mark Netto, and he lives there together with his wife and two children, goes to work everyday and plays soccer. Even after 20 years, the island still pulls him in, a feeling he describes as “magical.” “I haven’t had that feeling anywhere else in the world,” he says.