How Meetings Drive Business At MIDEM

The discussions that take place each winter at MIDEM, the international music industry trade fair and convention, affect the flow of repertoire and income throughout the global music business long afterward.

MIDEM and the digitally focused MidemNet Forum open for business Jan. 22-26 in Cannes. More than 10,000 executives from some 100 countries and sectors-including recording, publishing, live, synch, digital and mobile-are expected.

Here's how 11 companies, from several international markets, used MIDEM to drive business forward.

7digital (U.K.)

"We had been in touch by e-mail but never managed to get to the bottom of things," 7digital international manager Dorothee Imhoff says of the efforts of her U.K.-based digital music service to establish an affiliate partnership with French digital music service Music Story. Her comment confirms the value of MIDEM in the age of online communication and networking. At MIDEM in 2010, the two companies struck a deal to link their websites and collaborate on marketing with co-branded e-mail, advertising and voucher campaigns. "MIDEM was the perfect opportunity for us to meet," Imhoff says. "Our face-to-face meeting enabled us to go in-depth in our discussions-and the environment at MIDEM fostered conclusive discussions. We managed to agree on the terms at MIDEM; however, due to busy development road maps, we had to postpone the integration to the second half of the year. We launched our services a few weeks ago, and already Music Story is our third-biggest affiliate in France in terms of sales revenue, right after the likes of Spotify and"

AMV Talpa (Germany)

Highway to Hamburg? That isn't exactly the name of one of AC/DC's greatest hits. But Hamburg-based publishing company AMV Talpa signed a subpublishing deal at MIDEM in 2010 with Albert & Son, which controls AC/DC's repertoire. AMV Talpa managing director Jens-Markus Wegener says the deal gave his company publishing rights, effective last January, to AC/DC for Germany, Australia and Switzerland. The agreement was struck with Albert & Son managing director Tim Prescott and head of publishing Philip Martlock. The deal preceded the chart-topping success in Germany this past summer of the soundtrack to "Iron Man 2," which included several AC/DC tracks. "The deal made 2010 the financially most successful year for AMV Talpa," Wegener says.

INgrooves (U.S.)

Executives from INgrooves, the digital distribution and marketing company based in the United States, had meetings at MIDEM in 2010 with X5 Music Group, a leading digital music company in Europe. Last March, INgrooves became the worldwide digital distribution services provider for X5, including mobile platforms, replacing X5's previous provider. The agreement expanded X5's overall retailer coverage and added new revenue streams for the company. The deal also encompassed a variety of additional value-added services to which X5 previously didn't have access, including retail marketing support and mobile personalization product creation and distribution. "The wonderful thing about MIDEM," INgrooves International senior VP/managing director Alex Branson says, "is that we were able to meet all of the key people at the same time and address all aspects of the deal including financial and technical."

RightsFlow (U.S.)

RightsFlow, which provides music licensing and royalty payment services, engaged in talks at MIDEM in 2010 that ultimately resulted in deals to provide services to companies including Disc Makers (and its CD Baby subsidiary), Rhapsody, Guvera, Thumbplay, Beatport and Britain's PIAS. At MIDEM, RightsFlow also announced it would pay royalties due from the music service providers it represents directly to PRS for Music, the United Kingdom's collection society. To make the most of MIDEM, "we were very focused in connecting with key partners ahead of the conference to solidify our schedule prior to our arrival," RightsFlow president/CEO Patrick Sullivan says, "which allowed us to hit the ground running. Through deals executed at MIDEM, RightsFlow was able to help key music services launch or expand in the U.S."

Allegro Media Group (U.S.)

Allegro Media Group attends MIDEM to land distribution deals with international labels. Product manager Forrest Faubion says the convention also allows the company to update its existing partners on how their repertoire is selling in the United States. "We run sales reports and put together a presentation listing our account base and the services we provide on both physical and digital distribution," he says. Those presentations not only keep existing partners informed but also help attract new business. "We have a lot of great partners in Europe, so our reputation precedes us and we don't have to do a hard sell to land new labels," Faubion says. "Although sometimes I have to explain the idiosyncrasies of the American market to them." Last year Allegro struck distribution deals with Galileo Music, REL Records and In and Out Records. It also renewed a lapsed deal with Storyville Records.

Premium Latin (Dominican Republic)

Premium Latin GM Marti Cuevas stayed home from MIDEM in 2010, concerned about the cost of attending and the difficulties in licensing international repertoire in a challenging market. But Cuevas and Premium Latin will be back this January intent on selling Rita Indiana, a Dominican singer who blends rootsy mambo with alternative sounds. "We feel she's a very, very interesting product to present to international music people," Cuevas says. And Premium Latin has enjoyed success at MIDEM before. In 2006, Cuevas took "God's Project," an album by then relatively unknown upstart urban bachata group Aventura to MIDEM to seek international licensees. There, she struck a deal with Vale Music CEO Ricardo Campoy and manager of foreign licensing Elisabeth Comabella to license the album in Spain. Aventura, one of the top-selling Latin acts in the United States, has since sold 10,000 copies in Spain, and Vale's remix of the band's single "Obsesión" was a hit in the Spanish market. Now, Rita Indiana is already garnering international attention, including appearing in a recent ad for Diesel watches. Cuevas is specifically eyeing the French marketplace, where Aventura did particularly well with "Obsesión." "We have quite a network of companies we work with," Cuevas says. "I'm sure with Rita we're going to walk away with some deals."

Robbins Entertainment (U.S.)

Robbins Entertainment landed two key album deals at MIDEM 2010, A&R manager Matt D'Arduini reports. "I heard this record in its Danish form called 'Yoyo' by Joey Moe and was searching out who owned the record," D'Arduini recalls. He learned he needed to get in touch with Copenhagen Records executive Jakob Sorensen. "I e-mailed him and never heard back," he says. But at MIDEM, he tracked down Sorensen, who sent D'Arduini an English version of "Yoyo" in February and, by May, struck a deal for Robbins to release both the single and an upcoming album. Separately, D'Arduini also had a MIDEM meeting with Hayden Bell of Dogboy Music, a publisher in Sweden. Bell presented the album "Weightless" from Emilia De Poret on the Aristotracks label and D'Arduini struck a deal for Robbins to release the album early this year in the United States.

Som Livre (Brazil)

Brazil's Som Livre is an independent label with considerable influence, since it's owned by Brazilian media conglomerate Globo. In 2009, Som Livre business director Marcelo Soares went to MIDEM with two objectives, Som Livre president Leonardo Ganem says: "One, to sell our artists outside Brazil, and two, to get catalog for our company here." As part of TV Globo, Som Livre must license music for the network's many soap operas and original productions. "So one of our key objectives was to get catalog that was preauthorized for this use," Ganem adds. Som Livre returned with a handful of deals with publishers and record labels. The most notable, Ganem says, were struck with Kobalt, based in the United States, and Mushroom Music Publishing in Australia, both of which are now represented by Som Livre in Brazil. In 2011, Ganem says, his label will look for similar deals and will also scout for opportunities for its artists, including Maria Gadú, who earned a Latin Grammy Award nomination this year as best new artist.

WiseMonkeyRecords (Australia)

At MIDEM in 2010, WiseMonkeyRecords founder Adam Friedman unveiled AirJ, an app that converts human movement by mobile phone users into musical information. Essentially, it turns the iPhone into a musical instrument. While in Cannes, Friedman met with Chrysalis Music CEO Jeremy Lascelles and Music Managers Forum CEO Jon Webster. Subsequently, he secured a management deal with Howard Needleman from the Others, attracted interest from investors in the United Kingdom and garnered support from Apple Computer. Through relationships forged in Cannes, Friedman partnered with the engineers behind music search service Shazam to produce the back-end for the AirJ app. Friedman has since been hired by Universal Music U.K. to create interactive music apps for international acts for launch in early 2011, and more recently his team secured app deals with the BBC. Friedman relocated to the United Kingdom in the wake of the interest generated from those meetings in Cannes. "MIDEM worked out remarkably well for us, so much so that our two-week trip to Europe ended up lasting nine months," says Friedman, who returned to Australia in October. Talks are ongoing to create apps for various music and media companies, including other U.K. broadcasters.

Pias Entertainment Group (U.K.)

During MIDEM 2010, PIAS Entertainment Group announced partnerships with Topspin Media and MAM Logistics for use of its direct-to-consumer e-commerce service, D2C. But "we also met and have subsequently signed deals with a number of digital retail partners," PIAS managing director of digital and business development Adrian Pope says. "One of those was a supply deal with China-based digital company R2G to supply [PIAS] digital repertoire into Chinese digital retail markets." The personal interaction provided by a meeting at MIDEM was vital to the deal, Pope says. "Had we not met the key people involved at MIDEM, we would not have felt the same level of trust and confidence in moving forward with the agreement."

Demon Music Group (U.K.)

U.K.-based reissue specialty label Demon Music Group finalized a number of deals at MIDEM 2010, including a licensing deal with Phoenix Music International, which contained material from Aswad, Space and Uniting Nation, Demon TV/commercial manager Michael Neidus says. Demon also struck a licensing deal with Italian dance label producer Time and moved on a deal with Todd Rundgren's Bearsville label. Discussions for the Bearsville deal began at MIDEM in 2008 and were finally concluded last November. "MIDEM is still crucial to Demon," Neidus says. "Although we do visit overseas catalog owners and licensors around the world, we also visit our overseas licensees. When you have a vast catalog, MIDEM is great for getting in front of other potential partners. But once the deals have been signed, it is very important to visit and keep in touch so that your repertoire is at the forefront of their minds when they are compiling new collections for the various international markets."

Reporting by Lars Brandle, Antony Bruno, Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Thom Duffy, Tom Ferguson and Wolfgang Spahr.