This weekend, the annual MIDEM conference gets underway, bringing the music industry together in Cannes, France, to assess the current state of the business and set the stage for the year to come.

Billboard's team -- including Editorial Director Bill Werde and reporters Antony Bruno, Evie Nagy and Glenn Peoples -- will be there to report every move: lessons learned during the day's programming and memorable comments and happenings at events, to insights gained at private meetings, hotel bars and 3:00 a.m. parties, and more.

One of the biggest changes to MIDEM this year is the integration of the MIDEMNET tech-focused track into the broader conference. In years past, MIDEMNET took place the weekend before the conference officially got underway. While the weekend pre-conference will still take place, MIDEMNET is now a conference track throughout the week as well.

Here are some of the topics we'll be following:

--Startups/Developers/Apps
There are two series scheduled for the week designed to showcase new companies and apps. MIDEMNET Labs allows startups to present their products, services and business models, as it did last year, but this time around they'll be grouped into various categories. Those include mobile apps, business-to-business companies, and business-to-consumer companies.

Additionally, there will be a Music Hack Day integrated into the conference, where app developers of all stripes will create and demo new music apps, showcasing the creative energies of the music-developer community.

Obviously, technology and other digital music innovations are paving the road ahead for a music industry still very much in transition, and that is clearly evident in both the programs and the attendees expected this year. Other discussions include the potential of social games, a case study on Linkin Park's various digital initiatives in support of their last album, and a host of workshops designed to show the budding digital-music entrepreneurs the ropes.

--Legal/Piracy
Two interrelated topics -- piracy and copyright -- are sure to be hot topics this year. Two years ago, U2 manager Paul McGuinness made headlines when he called on Internet service providers to disconnect subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyright. This year may not have the same fireworks, but the issues McGuinness spoke of are no closer to being resolved two years later. Expect some kind of progress report on France's three-month-old Hadopi agency, which was founded to help copyright owners fight digital piracy. They may hear proposals to both strengthen and loosen copyright restrictions on digital media. And they will probably hear at least one executive call for tougher anti-piracy enforcement around the world.

Additionally, the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers will host a series of panels and lectures addressing the issues involved in entertainment and technology law, focusing on licensing, copyright and live entertainment.

--Publishing/Synch

The big issue for music publishing at MIDEM is expected to be continued discourse on how to achieve a global repertoire database, which is essential to meeting the European Commission's goal of creating a single music licensing marketplace for digital music service providers. As a way to meet the EU directive, each major publisher has created a pan-European licensing vehicle for their English speaking repertoire. But that first step has created more turmoil in the European market because the pan-European deals essentially create another level of licensing. Now, each digital music service has to go to each major's pan-European vehicle for their English-language repertoire and still have to go to each local society for the non-English repertoire that originated in each country. Complications with payments and claims have resulted as well.

On the first day of MIDEM, convention WIPO Director General Francis Gurry will talk about the global repertoire database, and later in the day the European Commission's Michel Barnier will outline his vision of copyright law in Europe and likely address the position of the music industry in a digital pan-European content market. And on Tuesday, MIDEM's music-publishing summit will convene, which includes several panels.

Other highlights include keynotes from Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy, Foursquare founder Naveen Selvadurai and DJ/producer/artist David Guetta and of course the deals: MIDEM is a hotbed of dealmaking and negotiations of all sorts, whether public or private.

Billboard.biz will have the scoop on all of it -- and we can't wait to find out what surprises are in store on the exhibit floor, the receptions and parties, and what our friends old and new will have to tell us. Keep it locked on Billboard.biz through the weekend and next week for all the latest!

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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