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Dave Roberts is head of entertainment at branded content specialists M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment. He has worked on developing music / brand partnerships for mobile operators O2, Orange and Vodafone, as well as Tuborg, News International and Reebok.

In two years time it will all be over. London will have been brought to a standstill for the summer and the UK media will undoubtedly by now be going through a post-mortem of why the home nation didn’t walk away with more medals?

London 2012, the Games of the XXX Olympiad – the biggest thing to happen to the UK in decades (arguably since the 1948 Games).

A strange topic for a MIDEM post, I hear you say? Perhaps not.

Since the 2000 Sydney Games, the ‘Cultural Olympiad’ has worked its way around the globe, stopping off in Athens in 2004, to a lesser extent (for obvious reasons) in China in 2008 and more recently in Vancouver for the winter Olympics in 2010.

With a mission to reflect the ideals of the Olympic movement, the Cultural Olympiad takes inspiration from its Greek founding fathers, who believed in partaking in a far broader range of pursuits than simply sport. The plans for London are ambitious, with a programme of activity that encompasses art, digital, film, theatre, literature and of course, music.

The London Organising Committee (LOCOG) have revealed scant detail on the exact nature of what our Cultural Olympiad will encompass, but one thing we can be sure of – London 2012 will provide the global music business with a promotional platform that likes of which we’ve never seen before (on both an official and un-official level).

If the music and marketing industries aren’t ready to take this opportunity with both hands, everyone will miss out – including consumers.

There are 216 countries participating in the 2012 Games, if only a fraction of these bring representatives from their national music bodies and export councils we should expect to see an astonishing influx of global music.

It’s a model that’s worked well for Midem through the years and in the UK, the likes of MAMA Group’s ‘Great Escape Festival’ in Brighton do a great job of showcasing global music, having worked with the likes of Sounds Australia in 2010 and Phase5 NZ in 2009.

What’s truly exciting is the prospect of a London Cultural Olympiad overlaid on a contemporary, connected world; just think about how the world has changed since Athens 2004:

-in 2004 a new ‘social networking’ site called Facebook launched to students of four American colleges

-in 2004 the new legal music download service iTunes celebrated its first birthday

-two guys who were working at online payment startup PayPal had an idea for a video sharing website, working title ‘YouTube’

Combine this supply of global music, the demand generated by the influx of one million sport fans who will be seeking entertainment and the social channels through which they live their lives and you have the perfect musical storm.

At M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, we’re already a long way down the line with our clients on what the Olympics and the Cultural Olympiad means to them, to their brands and to their consumers. We’re lucky, we’re passionate about both industries and its natural for us to look at the big picture.

I do however wonder how ready the global music industry is?

As the UK media pick our sporting performance apart in October 2012, will venue operators, promoters, labels and artists from around the world be conducting their very own post-mortem – asking “Should we have thought about the London 2012 opportunity sooner?”.


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