Boarding the flight from NYC to Nice was like walking into a networking reception. Virtually every seat on the plane was filled by music industry personnel.
MIDEM may take place in Cannes. But it sure doesn't start there.
As I sat down I immediately found myself in a conversation with the guys across the aisle to the right, one of whom was a publisher/digital music distributor, the other an employee at Beyond Oblivion. In my row was David Waechter, a consultant for Lokast. Across the aisle from him was Alex White, founder of Next Big Sound. Just in front of me was Billboard colleague George White. Behind me was a manager/publisher. That was just the situation in a three feet radius around me as I was stuck in an immobile seat taxing away from the gate.
This was repeated every row in front and behind. There were musicians who bought extra seats for their guitars. There were old dudes with their shirts buttoned way too low and wearing sunglasses AT NIGHT in a FREAKING AIRPLANE. A few even had trophy, um…companions. Oh yeah, we were on a music industry flight, for certain.
It was comical. The poor attendants dutifully tried getting through the pre-flight safety spiel and demo, but they never had a chance. It was like being at a networking reception when the sponsor is trying to give a welcome address that everybody ignores. The din of conversations taking place throughout the cabin caused more than one traveler not associated with the conference to visibly chuckle in surprise and fascination. It was easily the loudest plane I've ever been on.
MIDEM could probably get away with chartering full 747s from the states if they liked, and let aspiring artists earn a free ride by performing along the way. I'd bet at least one deal -- if not sealed during the flight -- was at least conceived in a bizarre business equivalent of the Mile High Club.
And in a particularly valid karmic twist, the in-flight movie was "The Social Network."
The din died down once the Ambiens came out and the lights went down. Sleep was a challenge for all on what proved an unusually bumpy flight. But come "morning," the chatter began again, like birds chirping at the sunrise. Only not nearly as pretty.
Upon the force of landing, an entire panel in the ceiling fell off, hanging only by a hinge, right over the center row of seats with ventilation tubes and wiring exposed for all to see. That jolted everyone into full consciousness and filled the air above the seats with cameraphones and digital cameras all snapping shots for posterity's sake, or perhaps a Facebook posting.
By the time we hit customs, the excited chatter had fallen way to jetlag and the mundane task of getting luggage. MIDEM, it seems, is here.