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At MIDEM and MidemNet this year, Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge will be liveblogging some of the key sessions here on the MIDEM(Net) Blog. Here, he explains what he’s looking forward to at the event.

Last year was my first MIDEM, and it was a blast. Highlights included watching sparks fly between Feargal Sharkey and Gerd Leonhard on-stage; meeting umpteen interesting music startups who’d previously been in stealth mode; and trying desperately to keep up while liveblogging Mike Masnick’s excellent (but rapidfire) Nine Inch Nails presentation.

So what about this year? Here’s some of the sessions and issues I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into:

Artists taking a full part in the digital debate. Ed O’Brien, Pharrell Williams, Amanda Palmer, Pete Wentz… Labels, managers, tech startups and ISPs all have plenty to say, but I’m looking forward to contrasting their viewpoints with the musicmakers themselves (and possibly sticking my hand up with some mischievous questions about streaming royalties).

Owen Van Natta from MySpace. 2009 was a year of turmoil for the social network, with a new executive team and constant comparisons to Facebook’s booming traffic. I’m hoping CEO Van Natta will have plenty to say about MySpace Music, as well as music’s role in recapturing the mojo of MySpace itself.

What’s working and why. I’m going to have my ears peeled for positive stats and case studies of artists and labels who are prospering from their digital innovation and experimentation. It’s one thing to talk about the importance of social media, direct fan engagement and new revenue streams, but hopefully people will give some numbers and learnings from the successful examples.

Unexpected celebrity sightings. I walked out of the Carlton Hotel after an interview last year, to be greeted by a mob of screaming teenagers with cameraphones. Sadly, it was because Katy Perry was a few paces behind me. How to top that this year? Maybe I’ll just scream and point a cameraphone at Daniel Ek instead.

Digging into the changing relationship between managers and labels. If it’s all about the data and fan engagement, who owns and drives those activities: labels or managers? The obvious answers are ‘it depends’ or ‘they work together in beautiful harmony’ – but there’s more of a tug-of-war behind the scenes than those imply. It would be good to tease out some of those issues this year.

MidemNet Lab. I can’t wait for the pitch sessions for this year’s startups event. The 15 who’ve been chosen are an intriguingly varied snapshot of current digital innovation, but it’ll be good to see how they come across in the flesh – not least when being asked the ‘So, how are you going to make money?’ question.

The Apps & Music session. We’ve been bullish from the start on iPhone apps at Music Ally, and it’s been hugely encouraging in recent months to see creative and playful artist apps in recent months like Little Boots Reactive Remixer, Sonifi and I Am T-Pain, not to mention the success of Tapulous’ Tap Tap Revenge games and the emergence of DIY services from iLike, Mobile Roadie and others to help bands without a big budget get onto the App Store. But what next: will the music industry shake off its iPhone tunnel vision and target other smartphones? And while iPhone apps are cool, are they really making artists and labels more money? This panel session will hopefully answer both.

It’s going to be some weekend. For many of the sessions, I’ll be clattering away on a netbook down the front, so do come and say hello. Especially if you can tell me where the nearest power socket is…


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About Author

Stuart Dredge

Stuart Dredge is a freelance journalist, and a regular contributor to Music Ally, The Guardian and more... including midemblog :)

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