The participation of artists and songwriters is a key aspect of the modern Midem: not just showcasing their music, but taking a full part as speakers, audiences and networkers. There were plenty of artistic voices at this year’s event, not least at the redesigned Midem Beach venue, with performances in the daytime and evenings rocking its two stages. The Midem 2019 Artist & Creativity Review tells you all about them!

Tuesday night kicked off with the 2019 StarNest Night The Original, sponsored by China Youth Talent Utopia, Star Nest Program and The Silk Road International Music. China’s Neon Garden, Panda Glasses and Qing Mu showed off their talent. They were followed by showcases from Midem Artist Accelerator finalists Rasha Nahas (below), Mullally, Bo Ningen and Acido Pantera.

Wednesday night began early with The Breakout Music HipHop Showcase, featuring Mylia, Tony King and special guest Jay Q. Then it was time for the return of Taiwan Beats, with performances by Amuyi, Jia Jia and Sonia Calico. The Midem Artist Accelerator was represented by Blanche, and Alexander Oscar, before Demon got the crowd dancing into the small hours, celebrating the anniversary of his landmark French Touch album Midnight Funk.

Thursday night finished the live action off nicely, with Accelerator finalists Anya, Kyan, Moonchild Sanelly and Dalex followed by an eagerly-awaited performance from Inna De Yard, the legendary reggae collective from Jamaica (top photo), brought to Cannes by Wagram Music.

The return of the Midem Artist Accelerator, presented this year by Amuse, ensured a new crop of exciting emerging artists were performing on the Midem beach, as well as meeting with a range of experts for mentorship during the daytimes. The 11 finalists (including Rasha Nahas, pictured above) were chosen from a record number of entrants.

The MAA is such a perfect fit four us as we share the same goals – to boost the careers of emerging talent around the globe. The music industry is enjoying such a massive growth right now, but it’s not always easy to navigate,” says Diego Farias, CEO of Amuse. “Giving talent access to programmes such as this really complements our ambition to create tools for every independent artist, giving them and their teams the possibility to reach their full potential.” The performances from the accelerator finalists truly were some of the highlights of this Midem.

The Accelerator artists also showcased a brand new feature for Midem 2019: the Dynaudio Unheard pop-up studio located outside the Palais. It was a space for artists to record (and in some cases collaborate) with Midem attendees and Cannes passers-by alike able to watch the creative process. Sessions throughout the week enabled artists to try out the studio.

It came from a desire to give something back to artists,” says Dynaudio’s director of global marketing Christian Bennike. “Up-and-coming artists probably can’t afford studio time, and they almost definitely can’t afford the kind of publicity we can provide. So, we decided to bring the studio to them and give them access to our social-media channels to boost their publicity.”

WP Livestream

For the first time, all artists attending Midem, had access to a brand new zone this year created just for them. Midem’s Artist Hub was presented by Songkick and CD Baby, in association with the International Artists Organisation (IAO). It offered a comprehensive programme of sessions and networking opportunities, plus the European Commission’s ‘Music Moves Europe’ session – for more on that, see our Midem 2019 Business Review blog post.


Dave Rowntree

Dave Rowntree, the drummer in Blur and a respected industry activist, was one of the Artist Hub speakers, talking about his career alongside Infected Mushroom, DJ Phenom and DJ White Shadow. “We’re told today that fame is a destination, it’s engrained into youth culture… that’s incredibly unhealthy. And yet younger, becoming famous was my only aim in life!” laughed Rowntree, who also offered some blunt criticism for the industry. “The music industry is run by old men who don’t understand technology at all. History is littered with tech disasters. They even resisted LPs vs 78s! Not to mention mp3s. Tech happens regardless; if the industry can’t keep up, artists are going to suffer… I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet in terms of technological change. This is why I’ve become a music activist.”


Artists were also making their voices heard on the various Midem conference stages. Besides Rowntree, you’ll hopefully have already read about the contributions of Femi Kuti and Maleek Berry in our Midem 2019 Business Review.

Indian rapper DIVINE, whose life story inspired the hit movie Gully Boy, was also at Midem to talk about what’s happening with the burgeoning independent hip-hop scene in India.

Brands is where the game changed for me: I worked with Netflix, with Budweiser and Red Bull. These guys are who are bringing in the money for me,” he explained, about the dynamics of his business, and why he thinks independent hip-hop is finding a fervent fanbase in India.

“It’s not Bollywood that defines our music,” he said. “The sound is very fresh, it’s very new and it’s very promising. And it’s coming from all corners. It’s the best time, so let’s see where we go with this!” Watch the full session above.

Another rapper speaking at Midem was Belgian artist Hamza, who talked about his journey so far in another session, including why he signed to a deal with major-label Warner Music.

“For a young artist like me, I think it’s important to have a big company like Warner. I’m very happy to work with them, and we have had a lot of great opportunities since I’ve been working with them,” he said. Watch the full session here.

Another artist talking at Midem was Wengie, a Chinese-Australian artist who’s become a big online star, with 13.7 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and 1.8 million followers on Instagram. She spoke as part of a panel about how K-Pop broke the USA in 2019.

“It’s very interesting to see the development of pop music in the East. Chinese pop was reigning supreme for a while, then J-Pop really had its impact in Asia, and now it’s just been K-Pop for the past 10 years, because they’ve been able to innovate and take Asian pop music to the next level,” she said. “K-Pop is definitely a globalised product that I think everyone can enjoy, and it’s heavily influenced me.” Watch the full session here (complete with video cameos including Will.I.Am professing his love for K-Pop!).

Midem 2019 also saw the world premiere screening of a documentary about veteran Jamaican artists’ collective Inna De Yard presented by Wagram Stories: Ken Boothe, Cedric Myton, Winston McAnuff and Kiddus I. Filmed by Oscar-nominated director Peter Webber, the film tells the tale of the group recording a new album. Besides the premiere, Inna De Yard wowed the Midem Beach crowd with a performance on the Thursday night (top photo).


Sylvia Rhone

Midem also celebrated the people who help artists to express their creativity. Epic Records chairman and CEO Sylvia Rhone unfortunately fell ill, and missed her planned keynote. Happily, she recovered to take part in the ceremony to receive her Midem 2019 Hall of Fame award. “It’s an honour I will never forget!” she said.

Hip-hop also had its moment in the spotlight at Midem on the final day, with a series of sessions (including Hamza’s, above) exploring current trends in hip-hop globally. One of them focused on trap-capital Atlanta was produced in partnership with A3C Conferences.

Atlanta hip-hop panel

Atlanta is a music Mecca. It has been like that for quite some time,” said Armina Diop, SVP of A&R at Republic Records (above), who noted that young music fans in the city can play an important role in helping rappers and producers break through. “The kids just have a sensational appetite for music.” Producer Elliston ‘Genius’ Clarke also talked about the community. “I think that’s one of the major things about Atlanta: you could be at the studio and run into somebody and collab with them and create the next biggest hit,” he said. Watch the full session here.

Another session looked at the way Chinese hip-hop is going mainstream in 2019, tracing it back to TV talent-show The Rap of China’s debut in 2017. “It was literally everywhere… all over the country and everyone was talking about it from the taxi drivers to your friends at a cafe or at a club. It had literally swept over the whole country,” remembered Reggie Ba-Pe, Partner, Club Media. Watch the full session here.

Authors, songwriters and producers were also present at Midem 2019, to take part in the second Midem Songwriting Camp, powered by Universal Music Publishing Group. A group of exciting talent gathered during the event to collaborate, before presenting their original tracks in a session on Thursday at the show.


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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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