This is the second in a series of in-depth posts, by Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge, giving you the full low-down on Midem 2018’s biggest highlights and industry trends. Second up: where the talent shone last month in Cannes!
Midem may be the place for industry discussion and digital innovation, but it’s also a hotbed of musical talent, including live performances every night at the revamped Midem Beach venue. This year’s lineup might have been the strongest yet.
The first evening saw, for the second year in a row, the British Music Night, hosted by the UK’s Department for International Trade and BBC Music. Harmony-laden folk-rock band Wildwood Kin, independent pop artist Nina Nesbitt and winner of Britain’s Got Talent Tokio Myers showcased the best of the current talent coming out of the UK.
They were complemented by Midem Artist Accelerator finalists T$hego, Bigstar, La Dame Blanche and AKA, who got the crowds dancing, and that was continued by the night’s two closing DJs: Afro electro legend Mo Laudi and French rising star Single Spark, who was discovered and presented by Soonvibes. See our full Day 1 Concerts Wrap.
Day two of Midem’s evening programme saw more Midem Artist Accelerator finalists strutting their stuff at the Midem Beach: Damian Lynn, Bez and Hyphen Hyphen (below), who all proved big hits with the gathered attendees.
The evening began, however, with a ‘Brazil Experience’ courtesy of Midem partners SEBRAE, APEX-BRASIL and SECRETARIA DA CULTURA DO RIO DE JANEIRO, where Joyce Candido got the atmosphere going. Meanwhile, SACEM’s African Night tore up the stage with Kiff No Beat and Adango warming the audience up for Yemi Alade’s headline set. See our full Day 2 Concerts Wrap.
The third and final evening of Midem 2018 concerts was relocated inside to the Grand Auditorium due to a weather warning, but that didn’t stop attendees dancing to another packed bill of artists. Artist Accelerator finalists Client Liaison, Haute and Dylan William persuaded plenty of people to abandon their seats in order to shake a leg or two. The night also saw the annual Taiwan Beats showcase, with Cosmos People, Eve AI and DJ Spookie particular highlights. See our full Day 3 Concerts Wrap.
Among the artists performing on the Midem Beach were the 11 finalists in 2018’s Midem Artist Accelerator: the fourth year for the conference’s career-boosting programme for emerging artists from around the world.
This year’s finalists really were a global crop: from South Africa there was AKA, Bigstar and T$hego, while the crowds danced to Nigerian artist Bez; Cuban flute-toting queen La Dame Blanche; Australian 80s throwback band Client Liaison; Swiss artist Damian Lynn; British musician Dylan Williams; and homegrown French artists Agar Agar, Hyphen Hyphen and Haute (who clearly missed the memo and failed to call themselves Haute Haute!)
These artists’ performances at the Midem Beach – and for Client Liaison, at the Midem Music Awards launch too – were a chance for them to showcase their talents to an industry audience. There is evidence of this paying off too: 2017 alumni Be Charlotte signed a deal with Sony Music Germany after last year’s accelerator, while Iris Gold inked a global deal with Playground Music Scandinavia.
Sometimes we need to get burned to be inspired to create great #music as attested by great S African producer/dj @RealBlackCoffee who found the record store he worked at as a young man insisted they owned what would become one of his hits #Midem #MAA ambassador pic.twitter.com/K6omZOwoSU
— Midem (@midem) June 5, 2018
The finalists also enjoyed a programme of mentoring and networking, including an advice session from Midem keynoter Black Coffee. The popular South African artist and entrepreneur advised the artists to stay true to themselves, telling them that people are looking for great music more than they are just looking for big names.
Another major talent celebrated at Midem 2018 was Scooter Braun, the visionary music manager, although as he explained in his keynote, he prefers the term ‘adviser’. Stretching well beyond its allotted 30 minutes as Braun happily fielded questions from the audience, the keynote was followed later in the evening by Braun’s acceptance of the first ever Midem Hall of Fame award, at the launch of the Midem Music Awards.
Braun encouraged the audience to follow their dreams, even through tough times. “When I was 25, I was living month to month. I broke down on the phone with my father. He said you’ve come this far, see it through. Then we got a publishing deal that saved our company. Every day you try, you’re that much closer to succeeding,” he said.
Besides Braun’s award, there were performances from Imogen Heap and Afrobeat star Davido. And the other big news on the night was the announcement of what’s coming next year for Midem’s own awards ceremony.
It will take a different angle to many music-industry awards, with categories judged on hard data, rather than juries and voting system. Analytics startup Soundcharts – a winner in 2017’s Midemlab contest – will be collecting and qualifying data from streaming services, social media platforms, audio-identification apps and live-music data sources.
The first ceremony, to be held during Midem 2019, should be a case of science being used to celebrate art. “It’s vitally important to bring the global music community together; and that’s exactly what these awards will do here, this time next year,” said Imogen Heap, at the launch.
If you're a fan of #music creativity at its most adventurous, then big it up for this band of brothers and sisters worldwide who took part in #midem's first songwriting. Don't they look insanely beautiful after playing the completed tracks to the public for the first time? #songs pic.twitter.com/PPIR8XSojb
— Midem (@midem) June 7, 2018
This year also saw new music being created at Midem, thanks to the inaugural Midem Songwriting Camp. Held at The Creative House venue, it saw songwriters and producers gather to collaborate on brand new works, marshalled by Eric Vandepoorter of consultancy Alexine Business Solutions, and Greig Watts of writing, production and publishing team DWB.
The camp attracted a diverse and creative range of participants, including some superstars. Puerto Rican star Elvis Crespo and South African artist Toya Delazy – who were also speakers at this year’s Midem – brought their creativity to the pot. Other creators taking part included Ash Hiwklin (UK), Carlos Okabe (Japan), Celso Fonseca (Brazil), Emyli (Japan), Jaran Hereid (Norway), Jeroen Swinnen (Belgium), Lister (France), Maria Mathea (Sweden), Pete Barringer (UK), Thomas Boulard aka Luke (France) and Sayen (Chile).
Seventeen songs were created during the camp, and played to Midem attendees for the first time on Thursday afternoon during an exclusive listening session. All these original tracks were very well received by the audience.
This year’s Midem also saw one of the publishing industry’s most well-respected executives, Misa Watanabe, presented with the 2018 ICMP Ralph Peer II Award for Outstanding Contribution to Global Music Publishing.
Watanabe was the co-founder of Watanabe Music Publishing, which launched in Japan in 1962, and – among other achievements – played a key role in breaking British group Queen in that country. It also handled licensing for the catalogues of stars including David Bowie and Deep Purple.
She now chairs the Watanabe Production Group – a mixture of multimedia companies and foundations – as well as being director emeritus of the Music Publishers Association of Japan.
“I am overwhelmed and tremendously honoured to receive this very special and most personally meaningful award,” said Watanabe, at a gala dinner held during Midem. “I am humbled by the recognition and believe that with a little gratitude and imagination, there is still much more we can all accomplish together.”