Manager and entrepreneur Scooter Braun’s Midem keynote lasted well beyond its scheduled 30 minutes, as he happily answered a range of questions from the audience following his on-stage interview with Variety’s Shirley Halperin.
He praised Ariana Grande for her willingness to participate in the One Love Manchester concert last year, mere weeks after some of her fans had been killed in a terrorist attack at her concert in the city. “The fact that she took on the burden of coming back and carrying that show two weeks on? She’s my hero… And every single one of those people on that stage covered their own flights, their own hotels,” he said. “Right now with the state of the world, we have an opportunity to start stepping up and being part of the narrative, and start changing the interactions we’re having with one another.”
There was also praise for Kanye West, who Braun continues to advise. “There’s not a malicious bone in his body, that’s not who he is. And I can tell you from working with him, he is 100% deserving of the words ‘creative genius’,” he said, before relating a new anecdote about West’s sense of humour. “He one time looked at me about eight or nine months ago and said ‘I wanna tell you something, it’s a really big compliment and I want you to understand what this means. I think you’re the Kanye West of managers!’… I said damn, thank you!”
Braun also talked about wellbeing in the music industry. “Don’t get your self-worth out of what this business gives back to you. We’ve had way too many suicides in this business… This is not real, this is a privilege, this is fun, it’s a very cool business. But it’s not reality. Your family, your friends, that’s your real life,” said Braun. “Don’t try to find your self-worth in this business: find it in the simple moments… And the best part of this business is human interaction. It’s not the achievements.”
He also called on the younger members of the Midem audience to look to one another for the next big thing in music/tech. “If you want to know how to find the next Spotify, it’s somebody in this room who hasn’t done it yet. Bet on each other… It’s a youth-driven business, it’s a youth-driven world. Speak to each other, invest in each other, and one of you guys is the next Daniel Ek,” he said. “Build relationships not with the people on the stage, but with the people in the crowd.” Read Music Ally’s full report on the Scooter Braun keynote.
Visionary live music executive and CEO of @oakviewgroup Tim Leiweke’s keynote wraps #midem‘s first ever Live Summit, in association with @pollstarlive. Watch live on Facebook: https://t.co/9xKC17ZWk1 pic.twitter.com/aR6Cm1lXNU
— Midem (@midem) June 7, 2018
Napster CEO Bill Patrizio also gave a keynote last night, addressing the question of whether mid-tier music-streaming services can survive in a world of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and YouTube Music. He was, unsurprisingly, optimistic.
“The market will still be dominated 80% we believe by those dominant players: Spotify, Apple… We expect it’s going to be a market size of about $7bn, moving towards potentially $20bn or $25bn… and that increasingly leaves opportunity for other players to participate,” he said. “Even a 20% slice of a $20bn market is a $4bn market… and that’s what we’re going to focus on… This is not going to be about just bringing to market the $9.99 product that we have today. This is going to be about innovation, about new forms of experience.”
Patrizio also suggested that services placing more focus on catalogue music could find their niche. “We know there are very passionate, discrete groups of listeners who feel under-served… And the labels are concerned about the monetisation of their back catalogues, because the streaming services skew very heavily to pop and hip-hop… The catalogue is dwindling in its ability to be monetised, and that creates opportunities.” Read Music Ally’s full report on his keynote.
The third Midem keynote last night was Tim Leiweke, boss of live-music powerhouse Oak View Group. Among his messages was a call for more innovation in the literal fabric of live entertainment: its venues.
“If you look at the top 50 arenas in the world, the average age of those arenas is almost 25 years old. There is clearly an opportunity to think out of the box and build new arenas and theatres that fans can enjoy,” he said. Leiweke said that Oak View Group has some ambitious plans for building new arenas, including outside the US. “We expect we’re going to be worldwide this year. We expect we’re going to have projects we announce. We love Europe, we love the UK,” he said.
Leiweike also talked about the impact that music-streaming services have had on the live market. “I’m a big fan of streaming, if you look at the impact it’s had on the music industry, and the labels… The labels to me are critical, because they’re the ones out doing a lot of the heavy lifting on discovery,” he said. “Spotify did $5bn last year as a company. It’s good for the music industry, it’s good for the artists, it’s good for the labels. But I also think Spotify recognise that the live part of the business is an extremely important piece for them as well.
In addition to yesterday’s keynotes, Midem hosted a heated debate about developments in US and Canadian copyright legislation during the Copyright Summit.
During the session called Copyright Reforms in North America, Christopher Harrison, CEO of the US association representing the digital-streaming platforms (DiMA), said untold amount of difficulties are created because of the millions of recordings without accurate copyright metadata. “We would rather pay the songwriters what they are owed. We might argue about how much we should pay, but we want to pay because we don’t like being sued,” he said.
Contentious US laws for digital performing rights of recordings released before and after 1972 have caused an excruciating headache for the business, said Cary Sherman, chairman/CEO of US labels’ organisation RIAA.
“All the US states had different copyright laws, but each one recognised re-production and distribution rights so everyone felt protected against piracy for several years,” he stated. “Then change happened; technology happened. It went from physical to downloads, from downloads to streaming. Then streaming became the way we make money, but it was not clear which state recognised the performing rights. It is just a mess.”
All the session’s speakers agreed that the bill for the Music Modernization Act working its way through Congress is the closest all the stakeholders had come to an agreement on the same point. US entertainment attorney Dina LaPolt acknowledged its significance. “This bill is a great bill. Yes, there have been those little scuttles here and there, but that’s just human nature.”
— Vanessa Reed (@vanessa_prsf) June 5, 2018
As the home to the international music business, Midem could also soon be the source of a future global hit as the inaugural Songwriting Camp came to an end yesterday. Thirteen artists and producers, from all over the world (France, UK, Japan, Norway, Chile, Sweden, Belgium, Brazil), and US/Puerto Rican hitmaker Elvis Crespo stayed at the luxurious Villa Antoine in Cannes to create sweets songs for studio recordings.
The mission was to work round-the-clock, collaborate, inspire each other, write, produce and create a series of potential global his over the past four days. Yesterday afternoon, they delivered. The project’s organisers, Eric Vanderpoorter, of Alexine Business Solutions, and Greig Watts, of UK-based DWB Music, held an exclusive showcase where the selected six songs (including Revolution, Hola, Toxic, Open Your Eyes and Kiss) were played to the public for the first time. Everyone was clapping and cheering. Some of the artists started impromptu dances on the stage. As Vanderpoorter said about Midem’s latest initiative: “It was all about creativity, international collaboration and passion.”
The unpredictable disruption of copyright laws on the industry was at the heart of a speech given by RIAA’s Cary Sherman. He emphasised the importance of the industry itself and artists to wade into the rights debate as governments and other regulators could easily pass laws that are to the industry’s detriment.
“US common law compels companies producing new products to do all they can to minimise the potential harm they might have in the future. That is what should have been the case for today’s technology companies,” he said. “Safe harbour provisions have incentivised the (digital platforms) to be blind to that common law. Those incentives need to be changed.”
The stakeholders should join forces to tackle laws that threaten the industry’s future. “Only a unified music community will be effective, if you want anything done,” he added.
#midem was easily the most hashtagged word on social media during the past four days of festivities and business, based on data unveiled during the closing Midem Global Trends Wrap session.
Check this out! #BMG was high up on the list of hashtags, v close to the No.1 #midem, followed by #geffen, #snapchat, and variations of #Africa was everywhere, disclosed the panel for Global Trends Wrap @jamesmart_in @Lovelivemusicuk @SamuelJamesHill @FoxStevensonNow #socialmedia pic.twitter.com/qKoyrAqNY3
— Midem (@midem) June 8, 2018
Among the other most popular hashtags were #geffen (keynote speaker), #snapchat (keynoter), #MAA (Midem Artist Accelerator) and #beach (for the lively Midem Beach and the jam-packed concerts there).
Africa-related hashtags were everywhere, confirming that the inaugural African Forum (which attracted myriad artists and music entrepreneurs from the continent) has been outstanding. Twitter and Instagram were also littered with #midemlab and #musictech as Midem retained its status as the place to discover music innovation.
Ovations are rare at industry conferences, but the global trends speaker Sally Freeman got one today. Freeman, who is in charge of digital communications and partnerships at UK-based DevelopHer (a non-profit designed to encourage more women to work in tech), was applauded for urging women to be more vocal about their potential and achievements. “When women are involved in a business, it just improves the bottom line; women will make the music industry more profitable,” she said.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are close to the heart of another global trends panellist Sam Hill, director, digital marketing at BMG in the UK. “We need to start thinking about their impact on what we do musically. They can help tailor your marketing campaigns and hit specific points in your target,” he offered.
He admitted machine learning and remarketing has its sceptics. “There is a factor that is creepy, like precise targeting advertising. But I don’t think that is something people should feel scared of, especially if helps make things work for the fans.”
#Data vs #creativity was the theme selected by artist/producer Fox Stevenson, the wrap session’s third speaker. “No, I am not worried about music composed by AI. After all, we’re all marketed to by algorithms by companies like Spotify,” he said. “But the human touch needs to be there, otherwise it might be to the detriment of true forward-thinking music.”
Additional reporting by Juliana Koranteng