MIDEM 2015: The Music World Meets on the Sunny Riviera


Submitted by Don Graham

Midem is the acronym for Marché International du Disque et de l'Edition Musicale. For the first time since its inception in 1967 MIDEM was held in the steamy month of June on the French Riviera, Situated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where the temperatures were in the low to high thirties as opposed to the more temperate month of January as in the past.

The international music community, covering all aspects of the industry gathered in Cannes from June 5-8 to do business, do some networking and listen to an impressive list of music industry leaders give presentations, discover new talent from across the globe, United States, Asia and Europe and to celebrate Armenia – the Midem 2015 Country of Honour.

During the four-day event, attention was focused on the future of the digital streaming market, with Apple announcing details of its entry into the digital sector on June 8. Reflecting growing industry support for subscription streaming services, both Sony Music Entertainment CEO Doug Morris and Deezer’s new CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht, told Midem delegates that Apple’s move into streaming should be positive for the music sector.

Midem had 75 countries represented and three new national pavilions hosted delegations from South Africa, Israel and the Ivory Coast, Midem continues to host the largest number of countries at a single music event in the world. Attendance from industry delegates reached 5,500 and brought together the industry’s key decision-makers from the entire music ecosystem creating a vibrant platform for networking, meetings, deal making and business. Midem also opened its doors to the general public for the first time this year.

Bruno Crolot Director MIDEMBruno Crolot Director MIDEMCommenting on attendance, Midem Director Bruno Crolot said, “the international footprint of Midem is unique and that is encouraging. So too is the fact that we have major labels, indies, music publishers, streaming specialists, giant digital platforms, major brands, and exciting tech innovators attending the event. Our line-up of conference speakers is unrivalled and the inaugural Midem Artist Accelerator programme brings 14 finalists to Cannes to showcase their extraordinary talent to delegates and the public.

“The downside is that Midem is clearly being ‘pirated.’ By this I mean there are a substantial number of industry executives, who are attending and holding meetings without registering. We have tried to explain why there is real value in signing up for Midem to benefit from the incredible business opportunities, networking, and panel discussions provided within the show. This activity is really frustrating, is unfair to our paying clients and is not good for Midem and we reserve the right to take action against such ‘pirates’ in the future,” commented Crolot.

Canada StandCanada StandMidem regulars described this year’s conference programme as being one of the strongest industry line-ups in years. Incorporating all aspects of the music ecosystem, keynote conferences included presentations from Sony Music Entertainment CEO, Doug Morris – who received a Midem/Billboard Lifetime Achievement award during the event, Arnaud de Puyfontaine, CEO of Universal Music Group’s parent company Vivendi, Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht – making his first public address to the industry since taking over the streaming service’s helm in February, SoundCloud Founder and CEO Alexander Ljung, Composer, Singer/Songwriter and Actor Paul Williams, YouTube’s Global Head of Music Partnerships Christophe Muller and Vania Schlogel, Chief Investment Officer of HD streaming service Tidal.

Among the key takeaway points made throughout the conference programme:

- Sony Music Entertainment CEO and industry icon, Doug Morris drew a standing-room only crowd to his keynote conversation. Commenting on streaming models he noted, “Pay...good. Ad-supported…unless there is a conversion factor into a pay service…not so good.” Doug Morris added, “I do think that this change to streaming signifies a tipping point for the industry.” According to the Sony Music Entertainment CEO, while the value of the music industry has halved to around $15 billion in the last 10 years, streaming could compensate for that decline. He said that the imminent arrive of Apple into the streaming business would be good for everyone as Apple would raise awareness about streaming.

Cannes boardwalkCannes boardwalk- Arnaud de Puyfontaine, CEO of Universal Music Group’s parent Vivendi, which is close to acquiring a majority stake in Dailymotion said, “With UMG, we want to be part of the growth of subscription streaming.” He added, “I do believe in the future of streaming. I do believe that streaming is going to lead the charge and enable us to create good mechanical growth within the industry.” And the Vivendi CEO noted that new methods of music distribution opened up new markets, such as Africa, with strong growth potential.

- New Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht, making his first public appearance before industry executives, told his Miderm audience that the arrival of Apple into the streaming market is a positive development. “If a big company like Apple comes into the streaming business, it proves it’s the (business) model of the future. On pricing, Albrecht noted, “it’s not about the price point in itself, it’s about the value for money proposition.” The Deezer CEO said that it is not enough simply to make millions of songs available to clients. Value will be generated by added features and explaining why consumers should pay for them.

There was universal acclaim for the inaugural Midem Artists Accelerator programme presented with Pepsi and Deezer, designed to develop new international talent, provide artists with dedicated mentoring sessions and live showcases to develop their career beyond their home territory.

Networking VillageNetworking VillageThe programme’s prestigious Artistic Committee, includes Epic Records’ Chairman and CEO L.A. Reid, Natalia Nastaskin, The Agency Group USA CEO, legendary Producer and Promoter Harvey Goldsmith, Rob Hallett, who recently launched his new company Robomagic, Will Botwin, President & CEO of Red Light Management and ATO Records; Christopher Kaskie, President and Founder of the Pitchfork stable; Mathieu Jaton, CEO of the Montreux Jazz Festival and FruzsinaSzép, Director of Festival Coordination & Public Affairs at HörstmannUnternehmensgruppe.

13 of the 14 finalists (France’s Sly Johnson was unable to attend due to a pre-Midem sports accident) performed live, open-air concerts to delegates and the Cannes public throughout Midem. US R&B Singer/Songwriter Timothy Bloom summed up the mood among the finalists telling industry publication Music Week, "The acknowledgment alone is amazing, knowing that I even crossed their (Artistic Committee) mind to be a part of this great festival… This project for me just awakened my spirit.”

With major online platforms and streaming services such as YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon, Qobuz, Peertracks and Tidal attending Midem, conference speakers and delegates discussed the increase in digital music revenues and the question of how to share those revenues equitably with songwriters and artists.

New to Midem, the inaugural Discovery Zone was dedicated to creators, brands and selected startups and their innovatory projects that promise to shape the music experience of tomorrow. “The Discovery Zone is an important new addition to the Midem experience. New technology is helping consumers engage with music and is being adopted by major groups, such as Orange or Mazda. The fact that we opened up this exhibition area to the general public was clearly appreciated,” said Midem Director Bruno Crolot.

With the ever changing landscape of the business model for the music industry with emails, instant messaging and Skype it’s important to get back to the more personal one on one and face to face relationships that formed this industry., even if it is only once year at Midem. Putting a face to the name and email address and developing personal business relationships. Midem is all about this and more.

The 50th edition of Midem will take place June 28-July 1 2016 in Cannes and sure to be a celebratory and prestigious event.