First and foremost, Ian Rogers, CEO of Topspin Media, the trailblazing online service company for indies, enthused on his personal blog that MIDEM was very much “alive and kicking”, as his personal experience in Cannes proved:
“Well, it turns out the rumors of MIDEM’s utility waning have been exaggerated — I had my most productive visit to Cannes yet… the fact remains I always manage to make great connections and get important business done in Cannes. Where SXSW is good for broadcasting a message MIDEM is great for having serious sit-down get-shit-done meetings.”
Digital distributor The Orchard was equally positive, claiming on its blog that MIDEM 2011 heralded the dawning of “A New Ecosystem for Musical Consumption.” Why? Because:
“there are now more transactions for music than ever before, the challenge is that the value of the transaction is lower. Solution? Let’s get more deals, more transactions and embrace the future”
…said the firm’s Olivier de Simone. Before reminding us that The Orchard’s co-founder Richard Gotterher predicted in 1998 that the future’s musical warehouses would be in the cloud! Another key theme in Cannes this year…
MIDEM speaker Rachel Masters of Red Magnet Media agreed that “this year the focus of MIDEM attendees was business,” inparticular with startups. “This year was a real turning point for music tech startups,” added Masters. “I loved seeing music tech startups deep in conversation with major label C-Level executives” in Cannes.
More on the startups later: but it wasn’t all about them! IMMF president emeritus and MIDEMBlog contributor Peter Jenner contributed to the considerable buzz around Asian music at MIDEM 2011 by sharing his thoughts on the matter on Music Dish’s blog, notably on the Chinese and Taiwanese bands playing in Cannes:
“But one thing is for sure: just coming in to do a festival or a conference might help to get started, but there is a need to have persistent follow up activity. There is no question that the attention span of the music industry is very short, as is that of the audience who are fed a continuous diet of ‘new sensations’.”
Not to mention the considerable activity around synchronisation, or music for images, notably via the first ever Sync day, with its numerous music pitch sessions and headline session from Glee’s music supervisor, PJ Bloom. Ad blog brandchannel bounced off Ogilvy’s pitch session for its client Unilever with a fascinating post packed with top-class video examples of music in advertising. Well worth a look!
Discovr, Shufflr FM and The Next Big Sound swept the board at MidemNet Lab, MIDEM’s startup competition, with TechCrunch France praising the “impressive quality of all the selected startups,” Music Ally acknowledging that the competition’s pitch sessions were “excellent,” and startup sites around the world, such as AllTopStartups, relaying these new hopes’ Cannes glory.
MidemNet Lab was just one of the reasons the meme of startups and hackers “saving the industry” was prevalent in Cannes late January. Hackers as in War Games? No, hackers as in music-loving code-crunchers capable of creating new music apps, sites and services by pulling in content from Twitter, flickr, last.fm and a host of other sources to create something entirely new. As musixmatch’s Max Ciociola raved on his blog and on OWNI, “the best thing about MIDEM 2011 was MIDEM Hack Day“. Why? Because hackers like Universal’s own Martyn Davies & many more are the answer to the following equation:
“Artists and writers deserve to get paid for their awesomeness.
Hackers deserve to share revenue if they can increase distribution and track usage through their API’s.
Therefore, this is my dream and the winning equation:
Rightsholders + Hackers + API’s = Healthy Digital Music Industry.”
This was why Soundcloud’s Dave Haynes (left) gathered a gang of hackers to come up with their own apps, services or sites at MIDEM Hack Day, a spin-off of the world-renowned Music Hack Days. Fellow hackers Paul Lamere (right) and Thomas Bonte retold those 24 hours in photos here and here; and outstandingly brilliant music apps site evolver.fm told all about the resulting hacks — including two for artist Imogen Heap, who inspired the hackers simply by being at MIDEM — here and here.
All of which drove WIRED to write about How and Why Every Song can be an App, using the example of MidemNet Lab finalist Songpier; and Billboard to ask the question Can Hacking Save Music? Fittingly, musixmatch (them again=) provided the answer during MIDEM, by signing a deal with Universal Publishing, BMG, Kobalt and Sony ATV to created the largest authorised lyrics database in the world. The answer to Billboard’s (and everyone else’s) question?
Music business versus technology?
The most technological MIDEM ever, then – Sony’s launching its Music Unlimited cloud music service being another case in point – but which as such made the same old questions more pressing than ever. Whilst MIDEMBlog regular, Hypebot’s Bruce Houghton (photo), urged the industry to innovate or die:
“Make simple affordable deals with as many startups as possible. If you’re still afraid, keep the term of the deals short.
It’s this simple: when the music industry doesn’t licence music to new services, it encourages fans to find their own solutions which often return no revenue to artists, labels and publishers.”
…he in doing so raised the notion of ‘old’ vs. ‘new’ MIDEM. “There were two MIDEMs happening simultanously this year,” wrote Houghton. “Sometimes the new and old music industry met. But more often, they did not.”
Yet it was the Guardian’s Alexandra Topping who best summed up this dilemma:
“At this year’s MIDEM… there was an undeniable feeling of transition of power from music’s old guard to its digital avant garde. But the problem is that even as the industry finally recognises that it needs to change, it is not clear that the digital future is strong enough to support the global rock’n’roll machine as it used to be.”
If you only read one post-MIDEM article, it should be Topping’s: few others better resume how now is the industry’s make-or-break moment.
Vive la France
French media was more present than ever this MIDEM, especially via the new generation of startup online publications. Slate.fr provocatively titled “And MIDEM discovered the internet” to sum up the many reactions to our new in-conference Twitter wall (we did moderate it, thank you very much!) and to point out how one MidemNet Lab finalist inparticular hadn’t seemed to have thought through the rights implications of his musical creation. As the French say, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs!
Fellow gallic upstarts OWNI and af83media were all over MIDEM, the former interviewing “MIDEM’s bosses” about the challenges of this edition, and the latter providing heart-of-the-action video reports such as this one, on MidemNet Lab.
Whilst most of MIDEM’s concerts were livestreamed for he first time ever in video or Awdio, what lives on in YouTube are the bootlegged mobile phone videos shot in concerts by delegates. Here’s a selection featuring impressive electro act Brandt Brauer Frick; French Vibes stars Aaron and Cascadeur; China Sounds’ Haya and the Taiwan Night’s Deserts & Algae 🙂
And last but by no means least, did you know some popstars stopped by MIDEM almost incognito to do their business? Taylor Hanson, one third of the eponymous heartthrob band, explained why here:
What a show! See you next year 🙂