Midem director Bruno Crolot who spoke exclusively to Billboard.biz about his vision for 2013's edition.
Held at the start of the year in Cannes, France, the 2012 edition of MIDEM was notable for a gradual re-invention of the long-running international music conference and tradeshow. In came an increased focus on tech companies - both music and non-music related - artists and brands. Out went MidemNet, which was traditionally held as a standalone tech conference, but was this year merged into the main event. Other notable changes included a larger live music program, cheaper ticket prices and a new layout within MIDEM home Palais des Festivals. It had the desired effect with a marginal growth in attendance replacing years of falling visitor numbers.
According to Paris-based organizer Reed MIDEM, total visitors climbed 1%-2% from 6,850 in 2011 to 6,900 in 2012, its first rise in footfall in five years. Midem also claims that the number of accredited delegates was up 13% on 2011, but noted that figure specifically represented the rise of badge-only participants in comparison to the previous year (badge-only participants represent approx a quarter of total visitors, according to Reed Midem).
Speaking exclusively to Billboard.biz ahead of next year's edition, which takes place 26-29 January, Bruno Crolot, Reed MIDEM director of music markets, outlines his vision for next year's edition. This week also marked the first keynote speaker announcement, with Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang confirmed to appear as part of MIDEM's Visionary Monday program Jan. 28, where he will discuss the role that technology and brand partnerships have played in building his career.
Billboard.biz: The 2012 edition of MIDEM saw the introduction of many changes. In your opinion, what worked well and what areas need further improvement?
Bruno Crolot: Last year we completely changed the show's positioning: We broadened [Midem's] scope. We enlarged to new targets, new segments and to non-music tech companies. The first good point is our repositioning was successful, as all the targeted segments were at Midem in good numbers. We had growth in visitors for the first time in five years which grew by 13%. Unfortunately, exhibitors in the pavilions, due to the financial crises, had difficulties, so we had a decrease on this side. Among the new visitors 50% were from the core business: labels, publishers and distributors. So that means that our main segment is very vibrant and very present at Midem. The second good point was that most of the changes that we made in the show were well accepted and understood, and we got very good feedback from our customers. We need to fine-tune the changes and have better execution on everything we provide. But overall the new Midem has been very well received.
What are your visitor targets for 2013? Do you think that Midem will ever return to the 10,000-strong footfall it drew as recently as 2006?
I'm not sure we'll go back to 10,000, but I think we can grow again. Last year we were very close to 7,000. This year we want to go above that figure. If we can reach around 7,200 delegates that would be good. Last year, delegates and exhibitors from the U.S. were one of the biggest increases. [Delegates] from the U.S. were up 11%. Some other countries were up further: France up 22%; Canada with 14% growth increase. Going forward, we definitely want to strengthen the international position of Midem. Only 20% of our attendance comes from France. All the rest is from Europe and overseas. Increasing attendance from the U.S. is a big focus for next year, as well as Brazil, Russia, Japan.
In line with this year's repositioning, will the focus on tech and brands grow further in 2013?
Next year we will again do many things on tech: Midem lab, the start-up completion, etc. But the core business is still the core business and the heart of the market, so we will have many activities around our regular and traditional customers.
Regarding brands, we will create a new zone called Brand Central [in the Riveria] that will focus on music and brand activities. New things are also planned around classical. We felt from discussing with our customers that maybe we don't deliver the right value to the classical community. It's a specific community with specific needs and topics that they want to be addressed among the conferences that we maybe have not covered traditionally.
Will the other additions introduced this year, such as the Midem Festival, Direct-2-Fan Camp and Innovation Factory, return in 2013?
Absolutely. All these were very successful last year and will be there next year as well. We will also keep having live music everywhere with Midem Off [a program of live music showcases in venues throughout Cannes]. A new addition to Midem Off is that we will have one specific place, the Midem Embassy, where we will partner with an online platform that will help us select bands and artists to play there. We heard from our customers that they were missing a space dedicated to networking right after the end of the show. So every night at 7pm the bar opposite the Palais will hold Midem happy hour. We want it to be the first call for people at the end of the day.
In 2012 you cut pricing by up to 30% with tickets ranging from €495.00 ($620.00) to €795.00 ($997.00). What are the pricing levels for 2013?
The pricing won't change. There will be just one new pricing level for next year. We used to have a tech start-up entry price at €495 ($620.00). Next year that price will be open to all young enterprises, whatever the activity is. It could be a label, publisher, tech start-up or marketing agency. The only criteria being that [the enterprise] is under three years old and has a staff of less than ten people.
Music company budgets have drastically shrunk since MIDEM's heyday. Why should executives continue to invest their shrinking budgets in sending staff to MIDEM?
Because all the music eco-system is here. All the companies that bring value to the eco-system, from tech to brands to artists to labels to publishers, they are all here. But I would say, not only do the executives need to be [at Midem], but also maybe some of the more operational people from lower down in the music industry. There are many things that we can bring to them in terms of learning and knowledge gained.
One of the major stumbling blocks in convincing international music executives to visit Midem is the extremely high cost of visiting Cannes. What, if any measures are you taking to make attendance more cost effective?
It's very true that the global experience of attending Midem has increased in cost and is not low. On average, Midem registration amounts to about 30% to 35% of the whole cost of attending. The rest is largely travel, accommodation and food. We cannot do anything on travel, unfortunately. But we try hard with the city of Cannes, with all the hotels and the people from the city to find solutions for accommodation that are much less costly. This year we will provide many lower price solutions for accommodation to help our customers increase the global budget that they have to come to Midem.