Midem attracts people from all over the world, including experts from the sync sector. This fifth in a series of thematic posts looks at Midem 2016 from both these viewpoints.

Our final wrap post explores two of the most interesting aspects to Midem 2016. First, the sessions focusing on the sync business, and what labels, publishers and musicians can learn about pitching their tracks for usage in TV shows, films, adverts and games. Second, the global sessions spotlighting some of the most bustling music markets in the world.

Mary Ramos on serving the pictures

One of the biggest draws on the sync side of things was Mary Ramos, the freelance music supervisor who at the time of Midem had worked on 118 movies – including a number of modern classics directed by Quentin Tarantino.

“I’ve found the perfect job for me with the two things I love: music and film,” said Ramos, who talked engagingly about the day-to-day goal of her job.

“You’re not a DJ. You don’t have a crate of stuff you go to every time. It would be awesome to just make mixtapes and have that be the story,” she admitted. “What you’re really there to do is to serve the picture, to serve the story. You need to find music that fits, music that can move the scene along.”

Ramos talked about the detective-style sleuth work that goes in to securing tracks for the films she works on, but warned that her profession is facing budgetary challenges.

It’s sad how little money people budget for music, considering how important music is for films,” said Ramos. “usic can make or break a movie. I’m biased on that, right, but it’s true.”

Watch the full Mary Ramos keynote below:

Sessions in Sync

Midem 2016’s sync sessions were popular too. A panel on the art of pitching and placing your artists saw pros from Imagem, Green United Music, Warner Music UK and BMG outline some of their tips for appealing to music supervisors looking for new tunes. How do music companies get on the lists of these supervisors and ad agencies to get a chance to pitch?

“In London there are probably 100 or so music supervisors, and new ones crop up each year. And it’s a very competitive industry,” said Tim Miles, director of synchronisation at Warner Music UK. “Getting to know the TV producers? It’s just about going out there, meeting them, showing your worth. Sending them your music, taking them out to gigs and engaging them with your artists in new ways.”

Natasha Baldwin, group president, creative and marketing, from Imagem, talked about the fact that not every song is on the table for every kind of sync. “We represent Pink Floyd. It’s a fantastic catalogue, they’re a fantastic band, but they’re particularly discerning about what they want to do in sync. They’re very happy to do movies, TV, but they will not do commercials. It’s well-documented,” she said.

Actually, a lot of estates, composers, artists and managers from all level of artists have become much more open-minded about sync. They see the value in it, and they see the platforms where it can add value to places all around the world.”

Another session grilled a panel of supervisors for the key do’s and don’ts for music companies wanting to pitch them.

We’re working on so many projects at once that obviously you’re inclined to go to the things that will be easier to clear,” said Ricki Askin, head of music licensing and music supervisor at Vice Media, although she agreed with her fellow panelists that for the right track, a longer, more challenging clearance profile can still be worthwhile.

How do the supervisors discover new music, wondered an artist in the audience for the session. How much do they rely on sync agents versus some of the digital services emerging to put songs in front of supervisors?

“In terms of platforms like Songtradr, I think that these are fairly new platforms, I’m excited to see how they continue to evolve, and excited to figure out how to fit that into my workflow,” said Kyle Hopkins, head of music supervision at Microsoft Studios, although he admitted that he’s not a huge user of these platforms yet.

Still at this point in time, the primary source of music discovery is being a fan, number one, just being a voracious music hunter. I think anyone working in music supervision loves music: it’s why we’re doing this job… That said, there are also trusted collaborators with whom we work very regularly, whether that’s record labels, music publishers, sync agents, artists themselves at a certain point.”

“Finding a third-party sync agent that believes in your stuff and isn’t taking on everyone,” added Askin, for artists’ benefit. “Obviously the larger their roster the more likely it is that you’ll get lost… The best ones are the ones that don’t take on every client that asks them, but the ones that actually believe and understand where your music could fit.”

Lessons from Alibaba in China

Midem 2016 was another success in terms of attracting speakers and attendees alike from around the world. One of music’s most fascinating markets in 2016, China, was represented in a keynote by Gao Xiaosong, chairman of Alibaba Music.

He explained why China is recently copyright-friendly. “China is a developing country. So our government decided to sacrifice those content industries to help the internet business industry, because ‘the internet is the future’,” he said.

“The first three or four big internet companies from China, they all grabbed some content. Music, movies, TV shows, news, photos. The government said ‘okay, be patient, let them be big’. Now they’re very big now. They’re monsters now. So the government made the decision last year: ‘Okay, you have to pay for copyrights’. And from last November, we don’t have any piracy any more.”


Xiaosong talked about Alibaba’s launch of a streaming music service, but also of Alibaba Planet, an app that connects artists with their fans. The latter will even be able to choose songs for their idols.

“For the first time BMG will open millions of unpublished songs on our platform, because we have big data… we can let fans choose: to pick songs for their idols, and for some young, new musicians,” said Xiaosong.

A separate ‘Bring Your Catalogue to China’ session offered more tips for western labels looking to license their music in Alibaba’s home country.

There is a hugely passionate music audience, and we look at about 700 million internet users in China, and about 75% of them use the internet to listen to music. It’s the third or fourth largest use of the internet after search, instant messaging and news,” said Ed Peto, managing director of Outdustry. “So that gives you 500 million digital music consumers in China, and they’re an incredibly passionate audience.”

Mathew Daniel, president of R2G, talked about the changing climate in China regarding music piracy. “The music was given away free by all the music services and they made money from the users. And music is still free in China, but companies are starting to pay labels and distributors and artists,” he said.

“But not everyone. There’s still a certain percentage of artists who are not getting paid. But the bigger ones do get paid. It’s not totally changed, but if you look around at the Western world, there are lots of artists not getting what they need to get.”

Streaming’s rise in Japan

Another panel focused on bringing western catalogues to Japan, one of the largest recorded-music markets in the world.

“Revenue from digital is very small compared to the physical, but it has been increasing,” said Kaori Matsuda, head of digital sales and marketing for Space Shower. “At the moment, the majority of sales come from download services, but over the past couple of years sales from streaming have been gradually increasing.”

The number of subscribers is slowly but steadily growing, and we expect to see more new services to launch this year,” she continued. “It’s very good for international catalogue… For the international catalogue we distribute, a larger part of sales comes from streaming services compared to domestic catalogues.”

Summer Kim, head of business development for Consolidated Independent, agreed that streaming is growing in importance, fuelled by the launch of new services from two local players, as well as global companies like Apple, with Spotify to come.

“The number of streaming users and the downloading sales are almost the same,” said Kim. “You can see how growing the streaming market is in Japan. Obviously, it’s not going to rocket tomorrow, but it’s in the movement.”

Brazil welcomes the world

Another market in focus at Midem 2016 was Brazil, with its own panel about bringing catalogues from elsewhere in the world into this year’s Olympic nation.

Luciana Pegorer, MD of the Brazilian Association of Independent Music, provided an overview. “Brazil is really one of the biggest markets for music. In spite of the [economic]crisis that we face there right now, the music business has increased last year over 10%,” she said.

We have a huge population, 200 million people, and we think the streaming model is the perfect model for our market… we think we can spread the consumption of music throughout all the social crises.”

Marcela Boechat, Business Affairs at independent company Dubas Musica talked about the market. “Brazil is a huge country with many ways of getting into it, because it’s many different styles. But you have to find your connection with Brazil. If you just put your music and distribute there and don’t have a connection with the audience, you’ll be lost,” she said. “80% of the music consumed is the Brazilian music, so you have to find your connection.”

African adventures for the music industry

Another group of emerging music markets attracting attention at Midem was Africa, which got its own session for a panel of experts to explain how western music companies can tap in to the music industry on that continent.

Michael Ugwu, general manager for the West African region for major label Sony Music, talked about the nature of Africa as a not-so-single market. “I always like to discuss Africa in terms of regions, because it’s a continent, and it’s very different in different regions,” he warned.

“In South Africa there’s a particular type of market that’s a bit more established. In other areas, in West Africa, we have the benefit of population, but then the industry has largely been fragmented and disorganised. And similarly in East Africa.”

Laurence Le Ny, VP of music, books and infotainment at Orange, elaborated on where she sees the business developing in Africa. “I’d say the business in terms of revenues is in ringback tones, and for us it’s streaming also… Each country, we need to think local, and the big question we have today is could a global actor be able to be big in these countries, or maybe we need to make emerging local actors,” she said.

“We need several things. We need catalogues to be distributed with local catalogue offers. We need access to the web and access to the internet with the infrastructure, with 4G, the Wi-Fi etc,” added Romain Becker, director of video at Believe Digital. “And we need a strong billing system in place to let the people get access to this and to have local or international services that are successful on the market with the full licences on the catalogue.”

Targeting the robust German market

Germany is another of the world’s big four music markets, and in the Bring Your Catalogue to Germany session, local experts talked about the opportunities the country is offering labels from around the world.

“We are a huge market: it’s 80 million people living in Germany, and we have [annual]turnover of around €1.5bn: in the last year we had for the first time for over a decade growth, of 4.6%, so we have a very healthy market,” said Florian Drücke, MD of Bundesverband Musikindustrie.

“It depends how you count it, but we are either the third biggest market of the world or the fourth biggest market… We have a very strong physical market still which is around 70% of the overall turnover. This shows that we have a wide variety of consumption from streaming to physical to vinyl.”

Michael Schuster, CEO of Cargo Records, talked about Germany’s network of 200+ independent record stores as a good base to bring music in from overseas, even while the shelf-space for music is shrinking in larger retailers. He advised overseas companies to work with a trusted local partner to truly get their product into the market.

I don’t think that anyone could break in Germany unless they’re physically there. Of course there are phenomenons on Spotify these days where you have massive successes just by being on a platform and then people like it and share it,” agreed Ben Bailer, president of Bailer Music Publishing.

“But ultimately you need the actual physical artist in the country, and need to show them around the radio stations, have them in gigs, get them to the clubs, get them to record store days or whatever. But do something physically to engage with the media. That’s I think the key to any breakthrough.”

Vive La France – pour la musique!

Midem’s homeland also got its own session on bringing overseas artists and catalogues to France, where streaming is fuelling a revival in recorded-music revenues.

Guillaume Heintzmann, co-founder of Alter K, pointed to strong legislation in France about French-language music, including quotas on radio airplay.

“Local acts are 50% of the market, and there’s a strong protection via the quotas, but for an international act there’s strong competition because independent, we are competing with the majors for small spaces into media and retailers,” said Laurent Didailler, co-founder of PIAS.

“But France has a different way to have a penetration into radio, through our networks… They all play independent music, international music. But it’s very open-minded, and we’ve got the chance to have access to that media.”

“For international artists to break into the French market, the artist really needs to be in France to be seen, to do a lot of promo,” said Jean-Philippe Aline, general manager of Beggars Music Group. He cited the example of The XX, who visited France every two or three weeks to do TV. “France was the first territory to get the gold record, it was as if they were a local act,” he said. “People in France need to feel attached to the artist. They need some kind of connection.”

Setting sights on the US

Finally, the world’s largest music market – the US – offers huge potential for artists and music companies willing to grapple with its scale and challenges. The Bring Your Catalogue to the USA session was notably sparky.

Laurence Muller, label manager of Phoenix and manager of Yelle and Nicolas Godin from Air, said it’s important to be clear about the challenges. “I make a point of being very very honest with my artists when they say ‘yeah, we’re going to break America!’. I’m like ‘what makes you think you’re going to be relevant in that market?’”

Pitchfork president Chris Kaskie gave a media-owner’s view. “There isn’t necessarily something that’s super-tactical about what you do,” he admitted, talking about the label or artist’s perspective. “It doesn’t even matter where in the world it comes from. It’s about quality.”

The panel also heard from a platform, Pandora, with its VP of industry relations Jeff Zuchowski. “I don’t think you forget any platform. I think it’s all about exposure. You try to get onto as many services as you can possibly get on, as many platforms as you can get on,” he said.

“You go to try to get as many reviews as you possibly can, get as much exposure. But social media has just been that place where we’ve picked up so many artists that may not ever have seen the light of day in the US, just because they start to really show up on social media. We’re going there more than we’re going to a lot of the labels right now, and finding artists because they already have a fanbase.”

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

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  1. Pingback: This fortnight in music supervision and sync (21/10/16) – Synchblog by Synchtank

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