Cannes France (Top40 Charts / Reed MIDEM)
Something strange happened at MIDEM 2011. Under clear blue skies, one of the main topics of conversation among the 6,850 delegates from over 70 countries was about the cloud.
More specifically, talk on the MIDEM exhibition floor was about the growth of cloud-based digital services which allow users to access music on different devices via a remote server rather than downloading it onto a computer.
The question is...does every cloud have a silver lining?
Sony set the ball rolling on January 23 by announcing that it is extending its cloud-based subscription service Music Unlimited beyond the UK and Ireland to include France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Music Unlimited is available across all of Sony's consumer devices and has the backing of the four major record labels. "What makes the cloud possible is technology. Having smartphones and connected TVs creates a platform that certainly wasn't there before," noted Thomas Hesse, President of Sony Music Entertainment's Global Digital Business. Speaking at a packed MidemNet conference devoted to cloud music, Hesse recalled that both Apple and Google are waiting in the wings with cloud services.
While new technology is driving the digital bandwagon, debate on coherent and workable pricing models continues to rage. In particular, the issue of rights management and what consumers will agree to pay at the point of purchase. US-based newcomer mSpot announced at MIDEM that it is now in talks to tie up agreements with the major labels and commenting on Spotify's plans to enter the US market, Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy noted, "We expect Spotify to be able to find agreements with all its partners so that it could launch as early as possible in the United States." Spotify reports that it now has 10 million registered users.
"The whole digital, connected, cloud, apps and services sector are at the heart of the evolving music market, so it is no surprise to hear so much discussion at MIDEM about how they are impacting on the industry," commented incoming MIDEM Director Bruno Crolot. "It's also no surprise that the number of participants originating from the digital and technical sectors has risen by 30% this year and that the MidemNet Academy Digital Education Sessions were packed. The industry is moving so fast, particularly in the services sector and the use of social networks to reach out to fans, that we made the educational aspect of MidemNet an absolute priority."
MIDEM Hack Day proved a standing-room only event as a selection of top web hackers teamed up to create an on-the-spot music app combining music, social networks and games. Enthused by the creative process, the hackers decided to produce a new app for artist Imogen Heap.
Startups Ride MIDEM Fast Track
With over 155 start-up digital and tech companies attending MIDEM, the level of projects pitched at the MidemNet Lab reached new heights. 30 companies came to Cannes as finalists in the three competition categories - Mobile Apps, Industry Services (B2B) and Consumer Services (B2C). That left them with high-octane, five minute pitches to make to the MidemNet Lab judges, who included a good number of venture capitalists.
"Start-ups need clients but they also need financial backers and that's where the venture capitalists come in and why we have made a special effort to bring the likes of Index Ventures' Saul Klein to MIDEM to discuss what encourages him to invest in the music industry," said Anne de Kerckhove, Director of Reed MIDEM's Entertainment Division.
MidemNet Lab judge Par-Jorgen Parson, General Partner at NZ:Northzone Ventures, was full of praise for the projects pitched in the B2B category. "There are some really innovative ideas at all parts of the value chain and it was encouraging to see young companies that have a vision of how to get the music industry working again. In fact, some of them were quite aggressive about challenging old ideas."
Par-Jorgen Parson backed Spotify four years ago and confirmed that "I am definitely interested in two of the companies that pitched in the B2B section and will be meeting them during MIDEM."
On January 25, the MidemNet Lab judges finally delivered their verdict on the pitched projects. Winner in the Mobile Apps category was Australia's Jammbox (www.jammbox.com), a new subscription-based, personalized music magazine.
In the B2B section, honours went to US-based Next Big Sound (www.nextbigsound.com), a new service providing online music analytics and insights.
Finally, Shuffler.fm (www.shuffler.fm), an internet radio aggregating music blog streams was named best project in the B2C category.
French Vibes Rock MIDEM
With MIDEM hosting 'French Vibes,' an eclectic line-up of hot, young Gallic talent took centre stage. "I think that a live concert programme that brings together Medi, AaRON, Cascadeur, The Chase, Revolver, The Bewitched Hands, Syd Matters and BB Brunes is worthy of any music festival in France," enthused MIDEM Director Bruno Crolot. In total, MIDEM hosted 62 concerts and showcases including a MIDEM Talent set from Saul Williams in which he unveiled tracks from his latest album 'Volcanic Sunlight.'
In addition to performing to French Vibes audiences, the artists and their managers held back-to-back meetings with international companies. "The MIDEM experience for talent has to be about performing live and having the opportunity to talk business at an international level," said Bruno Crolot.
During his visit to MIDEM, France's Minister of Culture and Communications, Frederic Mitterrand, took time to present outgoing MIDEM Director, Dominique Leguern, with the French cultural award Officier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Thought Leaders Share Views
With almost 100 keynote, conference and panel sessions taking place throughout MIDEM, thought leadership and debate abounded. Hot ticket appearances included internationally-renowned French DJ and producer David Guetta, who sold some three million albums last year and whose Facebook following is now at 17 million people and rising.
And underlining the international importance of the digital sector, European Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Michel Barnier, devoted his keynote address to his department's launch of a new public consultation concerning the future of electronic exchanges and the implementation of an electronic trade directive.
MIDEM Delegates Think Sync
With synchronization offering new revenue streams for labels, publishers and artists, MIDEM 2011 introduced the inaugural MIDEM Sync day devoted to all aspects of the sync business. The vibrancy of the sync sector was reflected in the growing number of publishers doing business at MIDEM.
"10 to 15 years ago the synchronization business was a very ancillary part of our (music) business, now everybody wants to use this as a platform and an income stream," said keynote speaker PJ Bloom, music supervisor for 'Glee.'
"Music is a great place for brands to build engagement with their audience," says Alasdair Graham, creative partner at Ogilvy & Mather. "If nothing else we've come to MIDEM for the first time this year to let the music industry know that if they have great innovative ideas for how we can push things forward, then Ogilvy's all ears."
Getting to know about sync opportunities remains something of a challenge according to MIDEM first-timers Julia and Matthew Gurry of Belle Roscoe. "We're working on our second album and part of our goal in attending MIDEM was to look for sync opportunities and to get a better understanding of the sync market," commented Julia Gurry. "The ideal situation would be to use a sync deal as a platform to launch the album," added Matthew Gurry. "The difficulty if you are an indie and unsigned is finding out what is available in the sync sector. MIDEM has helped us get a better understanding of where to look."
The Belle Roscoe duo took the plunge to attend their first MIDEM this year. "We've been talking to companies from Japan and China which we don't have access to ordinarily. The face-to-face factor at MIDEM is invaluable. Email isn't the answer."
For more information on MIDEM, visit midem.com