Photo: (left to right) Sony’s Tim Schaff and Denis Kooker with moderator Ralph Simon, at yesterday’s Sony Networks press conference
midem cranked into life this morning, as delegates sat in on the first practical sessions of the weekend, held meetings, and milled about Cannes swapping gossip and opinions on the likely big issues of the conference.
And they are… There’s a big buzz around startups and developers. In talking to people, I’ve found intense interest in what the midem hack day is likely to throw up.
Judging by conversations with a couple of participants, apps built on Spotify’s recently-launched apps platform will be high in the mix. I’m also fascinated to see what the hackers make of the content available in EMI’s developer sandboxes.
Meanwhile, the startups in the midemlab contest have been buzzing around too: their pitch sessions already look like focal points for the weekend. A lot of people have been raving about Webdoc to me today – and the company’s just-announced deal to add widgets for SoundCloud, Songkick and Topspin shows it means business.
Sony Entertainment Network‘s press conference was also a highlight this afternoon, as the company talked about the global rollout of its Music Unlimited service.
The show was stolen, though, by Sony Music’s new digital boss Denis Kooker, who mounted a spirited defence of streaming and cloud music services, against a backdrop of concern within some quarters of the industry about whether they cannibalise download sales.
“At this point we don’t see any evidence that any one area is significantly cannibalistic to any other,” he said. “Ultimately, what we see is that our business is growing in the areas where subscription services are the predominant player in the market.”
This is one of the hot-button issues at midem this year: whether streaming cannibalises downloads. With artists like Adele, Coldplay and the Black Keys withholding their latest albums from streaming services, expect a lot more debate on the subject.
Facebook and social music will also be big talking points over the coming days: people are keen to hear what impact Facebook’s new open graph is having on music usage on partner services, as well as how the social network is working with artists and labels on digital marketing campaigns.
There is also some fun debate to be had around the competition between streaming services, as European firms like Spotify, Deezer and Simfy continue to roll out globally, while US services like Rhapsody and Rdio cross the Atlantic.
Plus, there is networking to be done! My hope this year is that midem doesn’t have quite as polarised a social scene – rightsholders in the Carlton and Majestic, startups in the pubs clustered around the station.
The divide has symbolised the cultural gulf between the music and tech worlds in the past, but this year I hope the two intermingle more – as long as there are no arguments over who’s picking up the tab!