This is the first in a series of in-depth posts, by Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge, giving you the low-down on Midem 2019’s biggest highlights and industry trends. First: how the business moved forwards at this year’s conference,  in the Midem 2019 Business Review! Highlights include high-potential markets with a focus on the Midem African Forum, the Latin American Forum and the British music industry. Then, we move on to a wrap of the Music Cities Forum, the Music & Brands Summit & the Film/TV Music strand. And finally, we’ll conclude with a spotlight on esports and music. Enjoy this long and insightful read!


The evolution of the music business, and the chance to network with key players, was very much a focus at the 2019 event. And high on the agenda were the opportunities in high-potential territories like Africa and Latin America. The second Midem African Forum, in association with Trace, offered plenty to think about, as did the first-day keynote from legendary artist Femi Kuti, artist ambassador of this year’s forum.


Music will be, and has to be, and is at the forefront of spreading this message, because everybody listens to music, and is inspired by music… so that’s the state of my mind now, making sure we understand we’re one people in one world,” he said. “There will always be a fight, so that’s why it’s always important for music and the arts to be at the forefront of fighting this… If we don’t have our voices in the forefront of suppressing evil, then evil prevails.” Watch the full Femi Kuti keynote here.

Afrobeat star Maleek Berry, also Artist ambassador of the 2019 African forum, appeared at Midem this year, to offer his experience of international development, in a session moderated by Tunde Ogundipe, global lead of African music and culture at Spotify.

“For us to make noise, it needs to be at least 50 to 100 of us doing this at the same time at an excellent level, for us to really make an impact,” said Berry. What’s needed? “Infrastructure… When I look at Nigeria and I see the lack of infrastructure, especially in the music-tech space, I’m gonna be looking at it from afar. I’m not sure if I want to put my money in, and all that risk, until I know that the infrastructure is set up properly. And there’s so many other things that will flow on from that.” Watch this session in full here.

The discussions continued in a panel about putting African talent on the global music map. “I think we’re kind of in the nascent stages obviously,” said Temi Adeniji, director of international strategy and operations at Warner Music Group. “Streaming allows for monetisation opportunities in areas where there might otherwise not have been. So I think the future’s very bright. There’s a lot more opportunity for a standalone music industry on the continent, as opposed to one that’s dependent on external environments.”

Solange Cesarovna, artist and CEO, SCM-Cape Verdean Society of Music, agreed. “Definitely the distribution is one of the main opportunities that we see in the streaming moment era,” she said. “But we need to work together to make the revenues of this distribution grow, because the biggest challenge is being well known in different continents – and maybe more than in your country or in your continent.” Watch the full panel here.

The challenges include that question of industry infrastructure and expertise, including legal matters. Efe Ogbeni, founder of Regime Music Societe and co-founder of Stealth Management, includes superstars Davido and Tiwa Savage in his roster. “Contracts are made to be honoured, and there is no template for the African community when it comes to entertainment law,” he said. “It needs to be built: that is, an African template, not a UK template or an American template… If you write a record, if you produce a record, you need to have your rights to the record.” Watch the full interview here.

David Price, IFPI

Latin America, too, was a big focus for Midem this year. David Price, IFPI’s Director of Insight and Analysis, kicked off the Latin American Summit with an overview of the continent, and some stats from the body’s survey of people in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.“10% of Latin American music listeners are what we would class as passionate listeners – much higher than anywhere else.” Watch David Price’s full presentation here.

Jorge Mejia, president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Latin America, was the draw of the afternoon at the Summit, interviewed by Billboard’s Leila Cobo. He talked about the “avalanche” of Latin music after the emergence of Despacito.

“Definitely there’s such a thing as the Despacito Effect. Absolutely, that exists,” he said. “Before, roughly every two years we had a big Latin single. Everyone would love them, but then that would be it. After Despacito, it’s been an avalanche of Latin songs around the world… So now there is a definite difference to how Latin music is being consumed and seen around the world. It is truly Latin music’s time right now.”

WP Artist and Label Services

A later panel on Latin American opportunities talked about the biggest case study of LatAm exporting success in recent years. Jorge Rincon, VP Americas at Deezer, said that the Latin American diaspora plays a role. “We’re literally all over the place! (Spanish-speaking people) immediately identify with one another,” he said. “I don’t care how high Donald Trump wants to build a wall, it’s not going to stop that… So it’s truly a free exchange of culture.” Watch the full panel here.

One session focused specifically in on Brazil, posing the question of how to help its artists reach international audiences. “The current music landscape is highly local, so in the last year, 10% of the most-streamed songs were international. The rest was all local,” said Jasmina Zammit, General Manager, BMG Brasil. “They have around 10 million paid subscribers by now, and it’s growing, so a lot of those sertanejo writers and artists are very happy in exploring their opportunities in Brazil.”

“I really really think that lyrics and rich styles and so many styles from Brazil – Brazilian music styles – are a very good door for Brazilian music to perform abroad,” said Silvia Venna, Founder & Partner, Armani Venna Advogados. Watch the full Brazil panel here.


British at Midem Café 2019

As ever, the British music industry had a strong presence at Midem, both with the networking hub that was the British Music Café, and with a pair of panels titled “Don’t Mention the ‘B’ Word” (that would be ‘Brexit’) exploring the UK’s opportunities and challenges.

“What I’m fascinated by is that the UK’s repertoire isn’t just reliant on the grand old days of the 60s and 70s etc. Contemporary British music continues to punch above its weight, and is also finding new routes to market all the time through this kind of attention economy,” said Paul Pacifico, CEO of AIM.

Pacifico expressed concern about the potential impact of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit on the music economy. “It’s okay to say ‘Oh, British acts will still be able to tour, everything will be okay, it’ll be glitchy but stuff will happen’. I’m not so convinced.” Instead, he said, it’s the smaller, emerging artists who may struggle to adapt to the costs and complexity of a no-deal Brexit. Watch the full panel here. A follow-up session explored the UK’s place in the global market, with a panel of speakers from some of its key trading partners.

Turkey was also on the Midem agenda this year, with a session presented by the Turkish music industry, supported by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Ahmet Asena, general secretary of industry body MÜ-YAP, offered his thoughts on a market where 60% of the recorded-music market is streaming. He noted that there are currently one million premium streaming subscribers in Turkey, out of four million people streaming music.

“There is a huge area for the investors in Turkey, for the services in Turkey, to increase the premium subscription figures, because only one quarter of it is paying now,” he said. And with more than six million Turkish citizens living abroad, there are opportunities for Turkish artists well beyond their home country. Watch the full Turkish Music Goes Global panel here.

You can also watch the other panels covering individual territories’ music industries and export possibilities from this year’s Midem: the US; Central and Eastern Europe; Germany; Taiwan; and Japan.


There was also a strong business aspect at Midem 2019 around the concept of ‘music cities‘. This edition welcomed a Music Cities spotlight, in association with Sound Diplomacy, to explore how cities can build an even more positive infrastructure for artists and the music industry. Sound Diplomacy CEO Jordi Puy outlined the motivations behind this, in his introduction to the music cities strand. “Music has a place in every single part of urban management… And it is significant amounts of jobs that the music industry is creating worldwide,” he said. Watch his full speech above.

The following panel explored the positive role that music can play for cities. Laura Hildebrandt, head of global outreach and engagement, UN SDG Action Campaign, explained the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 goals to address challenges like poverty, gender inequality and urban safety. “We’re here talking to the music industry to look at the interactions between the music industry and all these goals,” she said.

Audrey Guerre, coordinator at Live DMA – a network of live-music venues, clubs and festivals in Europe – talked about the importance of music public spaces. “The people, either employees or volunteers, working and being involved in these venues, they really have this social cultural responsibility… There’s a strong individual awareness, and that needs to be supported.” Watch the full Music, Urban Affairs and the Sustainable Development Goals panel here.

The Music Cities strand also saw a panel talking about how music has driven economic development in some specific cities, including Melbourne in Australia, where A$27m has been invested into the music scene over the last four years.  Thomas de Pariente, deputy of culture for Midem’s host city Cannes, agreed that investment in music can pay off. “In a little city with lots of social, financial contrasts, we need to provide as much art and culture as we can,” he said. Meanwhile, Linzi Goldthorpe, senior communications executive at industry body IFPI, said more cities are catching on. “The benefits that music can bring to a city are huge, but in order to be able to draw on those benefits you need the framework that supports both the development and the creation of the music,” she said. Watch the full Music Cities: When Music Drives Economic Development panel here.


The European Commission was also represented at Midem by Tamas Szucs, director for culture and creativity at the European Commission, who gave a speech expanding on the European Union and the music industry. “Music is one of the most vibrant cultural and creative industries in Europe, and the EU is a strong global player… The societal and economic importance of music is a fundamental element when designing EU cultural policy measures and funding elements.” Watch his full speech above, outlining the Music Moves Europe initiative – and including a video message for Midem from Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.


Business at Midem 2019 was also about exploring the opportunities in related sectors, from advertising and brand partnerships to sync deals and new areas like esports. Tuesday’s Music & Brands Summit included a session exploring hip-hop artists’ partnerships with big brands, with speakers Cortez Bryant (co-CEO of Blueprint Group) and Matt Ferrigno (partner at MTW Agency). Samira Kaelin moderated.

Bryant has been managing Lil Wayne since his early days, including working with brands. “Back then, yes, it was a struggle… I had to figure out: ‘How can I make these guys not scared, and understand what the evolution of music and what hip-hop means, and is going to continue to mean in the business,” he said. “I dealt with a lot of adversity just because they didn’t know: they looked at the facade and didn’t understand that we were real businessmen, and we really did great work.”

Ferrigno said that there has been a generational change in the brands world. “The executives that are making the decisions at brands? They grew up on hip-hop. Ten years ago, those executives, they didn’t know what hip-hop was… The CMOs [now], they’re hip-hop heads, so they want to work with hip-hop artists. That didn’t exist years ago.” Watch the full talk with Bryant and Ferrigno here.

Sony Music held a panel during the summit focusing on its work with US-German act Lions Head (aka Ignacio ‘Iggy’ Uriarte, who was present to both speak and perform an acoustic track). Sony’s Lars Düysen and Carl Taylor explained how they had worked with brands on Lions Head’s behalf. Watch the full panel – including performances from Iggy – above.


Authenticity was on the agenda at another session on user-generated content (UGC) within the Music & Brands Summit. Amadea Choplin, COO of video and music search-engine Pex, said that one challenge for the music industry is the fact that YouTube’s system to enable rightsholders to claim revenue from videos featuring their music is far ahead of other social and video platforms.

“If we see content going viral, it’s going viral definitely on YouTube, and YouTube is by far the largest platform out there, but (there’s also) TikTok and Twitter and Instagram and VK in Russia and Youku in China. At the moment a lot of what you can do is just know that it’s out there, and that’s not really good enough.”

Eric Jacks, chief creative officer for Collab, talked about opportunities for artists to license UGC. “A lot of artists just have channels on YouTube or other places that are primarily music videos, and there’s so much fan content out there,” he said. “We built a lot of technology around licensing and acquiring clips from fans, so that the artists can use those as promotional collateral for themselves.” Watch the full panel above.

Antony Genn, composer and music director for acclaimed TV drama Peaky Blinders, was one of the big draws for Midem’s Film/TV Music strand on the Tuesday, meanwhile. He talked about why he feels classical music training is less important than other attributes in a composer.

“There’s only four things that are important in music. Two of them are stuck on the side of your head [pointing to his ears], one of ’em beats in your chest [your heart]and one of them’s [down]there: your gut. Does it sound good? Does it feel good? Has it got some f***ing blood and guts? Has it got some attitude? That’s what’s important in music… The idea that you have to go to school and learn all this stuff? You’re learning from the moment you listen to music. I was learning from the first time I listened to John Barry…” Watch his full session here.

Another session in the Film/TV strand explored India’s Bollywood sector, and why it’s that country’s mainstream pop. Priyanka Khimani, Founder-Partner, Anand & Anand & Khimani, traced it back through Indian’s film history. “It has a big social element in how it binds people together,” she said. “People come together through music… It [Bollywood] played historically a big role in the social setting that we have around music, and how because of that, we inevitably tend to link our music to the films that we’ve grown up watching.” Watch the full session here.

Back to the west, another session looked at the number of musical TV series in development, whether any of them will break through as big hits, following the success of some recent musical movies.

“If you get it right, whether it’s a Mamma Mia model where it’s a fantasy story… if you can actually get it right, it’s the perfect 360 model. You can sell soundtracks… but the creative is the most important part. Actually, the story’s got to be good and it’s got to have a really strong creative, editorial reason for doing it. Otherwise everyone’s going to see straight through it,” said Amelia Hartley, Head of Music, Endemol Shine, whose shows include Black Mirror, the series whose last episode saw Miley Cyrus perform a remake of Nine Inch Nails’ Head like a Hole. Watch the full session here.

Day three at Midem saw esports take centre stage with a series of sessions held in partnershipw with Midem’s sister event Esports BAR, including a panel on which Josh Remsberg, VP business development at Capitol Music Group, talked about the label’s partnership with gaming star Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, which saw them release a ‘Ninjawerks’ compilation in late 2018. “They found out first that Ninja had an affinity for electronic music, then quickly went and curated a soundtrack with a lot of the top EDM artists in the world: Alesso, Tycho, Tiesto and countless others,” he said. “The whole concept was creating a unique soundtrack for Ninja to game to on Twitch…”

“We’re also in the process,” he said, “because we know our artists have an affinity to game, we’re gonna build out a streaming studio at Capitol Records in Hollywood… for our artists to come in and game… a space that will allow our artists to express themselves.” Watch the full Music & Esports: Gaining Momentum? panel above.

Earlier, German musician Christian ‘TheFatRat’ Büttner talked about becoming the first artist to sign to Enter Records, a joint-venture label between Universal Music Group and esports organisation ESL.

“The gaming community is so huge – esports and gaming – that for me at the moment it’s still totally fine to stay laser-focused on that community. When you have that community, it’s possible to break the charts, because the community is so big,” he said, predicting that there is plenty more scope for collaboration between the music and games industries. “Especially for game developers, it makes a lot of sense to have title songs for their games. I’m trying to convince a couple of them at the moment,” he said. Watch the full TheFatRat interview here.

Meanwhile, Midem 2019 offered more business opportunities through its exhibition. Israeli startups featured in their own Technology Innovation Pavilion, for example, with personalised-audio startup (and Midemlab winner) TuneFork and AI-powered hit-spotting platform MyPart showing their wares. “Early-stage startups have the future innovation technology in the fields of music, sound and culture art for all,” said Dalit Poliva, founder of the Internet of Sound conference, who organised the pavilion.

MIDEM 2019 China Pavilion

Finally, there were some notable anniversaries for Midem 2019, including French company Budde Music’s 30th birthday; and recognition of 10 years of China’s presence at Midem with a celebration at the country’s official pavilion (above). Not to mention countless other musical celebrations…

The Midem 2019 Business Review is the first in a series of four Midem Review posts. More soon!


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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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