Barcamps happen every day all around the world. They’re a type of conference session where the participants of the event create the topics and their schedule, onsite.
midem 2012’s Mobile Barcamp was hosted by Thibaut Rouffineau (right), VP of developer partnerships for WIP. Further to a pre-Cannes call for ideas here on midemblog, Rouffineau led participants to create six sessions on the spot, on the topics of:
– digital content in Africa
– live event discovery
– connectivity of artists and fans
– fragmentation of data
– and challenges of the direct-to-consumer approach.
Louise Broni-Mensah (left), founder of Shoobs, a London-based event discovery company, led one of the first sessions, on live event discovery. Participants began by raising the challenge of the sheer volume of events on offer, and the breakdown in fan engagement.
For example, as one participant pointed out: “If your friend invites you to a show that is good but if a band is constantly spamming you with tour dates, that’s annoying.”
Participants felt that video-sharing is a great avenue for music discovery. Other topics of discussion included how to transform print flyers into digital flyers, and have virtual street teams promoting local shows.
Bands could even pay for a “Rent-A-Fan”-type service, mused one participant, where artists can pay for fan base building in the early stage of an artist development. Klout, the social media influence-rating system, was mentioned as an interesting model to understand the depth and interest of fans. Distinguishing those fans who recycle information, for example by simply retweeting band info, from those who are willing to spend an afternoon hanging posters, is increasingly important, it was agreed.
Emerging markets including Africa and India also became a group discussion, with all the participants sharing how often revenue streams like ringtones are forgotten. Whereas in India, ringtones were being sold to represent certain political parties in recent elections. Even niche areas such as taxi cabs have abilities for music to be played in cars. “Today it isn’t structured,” said one participant. “It’s now up to the content owners to make deals with mobile operators. The market is here. They need to analyse and propose specific things.”
Moving to financial models, a participant from Senegal shared how in Africa the revenue model does not involve paying for music. “When someone is poor, you don’t expect that they will pay for a CD. Paying for music in Africa was never a real option.” However, he shared that in Africa, “Its all about live shows. People are going out and paying money to see people perform.”
The group also shared how today is an interesting time for African music. In the UK, the BBC’s Afribeat was mentioned as a new show keeping the interest level high. With today’s scene, said one participant, “What’s happening is that there is a fusion coming. The bass is the ethnic side and most of the time it is what we hear. Now there is one white guy with the black people; that mix is happening and that is a very good thing.”
Mix that enthusiasm with the well-established African trend of buying services by text with simple feature phones, and music companies could have a recipe for success…
Heather Blanchard is a global communications student at the American University of Paris. She covered key sessions at midem this year, for midemblog and her own blog. Check out all her posts here: and be sure to follow her on Twitter too!