CANNES, France--A funny thing happened here late Sunday night here. The broadest collection of music industry professional gathered in one room suddenly stopped talking about music.
Their attention, for three hours, turned to football, as the Packers and the Bears faced off in what was a thrilling NFC championship game at the Station Tavern. The bar was the site of the Topspin meetup party--co-hosted by SoundCloud, Mobile Roadie, Hypebot, MXP4, Songkick and the Berkelee College of Music--earlier in the evening, and the crowd stuck around to watch the game after the bar turned to paid.
Suddenly competitors became best friends and co-workers turned against each other based on mutual team affiliation or lack thereof. Business model debates turned to armchair quarterbacking. And mosh-pit survivor skills became mandatory techniques to navigate the jam-packed bar. Apparently, there's no fire code restrictions in Cannes.
A small-but-friendly rift emerged between Warner Music Group executive VP of digital strategy and business development Michael Nash and Warner Brothers Records senior VP of new media Jeremy Welt. Nash, a self-described "degenerate gambler," had money on the Bears while Welt, being from Madison, Wis., was very clearly rooting for the Packers--sporting an Aaron Rogers jersey and vocally cheering on his team (at times from atop a table).
Jonathan Hull, meanwhile, was sporting a Bears jersey, over a blue and red plaid shirt, under which was another Bears T-shirt, capped off by a vintage Bears wool cap he's apparently owned since childhood. He and Welt spent much of the game side-by-side, cheering and groaning alternately depending on the play, particularly during a wild second half that almost saw a Cinderella story comeback from the Bear's third string quarterback.
Conversations were had with Myspace Music president Courtney Holt, Mobile Roadie CEO Michael Schneider, AOL head of music Jeff Bronikowski, a guy I can't yet name from a large technology company I also can't name, and many others. After spending a half our explaining the rules of football to the Aussie founder of Jammbox David McKinney, the Packers prevailed and it was time to head back to the hotel, navigating the narrow, sometimes confusing and deserted backstreets of Cannes. Fortunately the Carlton is an easily locatable hotel (just find the beach and look for the large, lit-up building. Hello Music president John Boyle once got lost trying to find his hotel here.
On the way back I encountered a wayward stray dog, a tall French man in a min iskirt with ridiculously high spiked heels hobbling along the uneven concrete, and what in all likelihood was a whore. Two more fuzzy hours in the Carlton bar with Jim Lucchese of the Echo Nest (who's got some big news on the horizon) and avoiding what I'm sure were far more expensive prostitutes and then 3:00 a.m. rolled around and the party was still going strong.
Welcome to Cannes.