Organizers of Popkomm, the younger of Europe's two big music biz confabs, are kicking off the 2008 edition of the conference with a commitment to explore the "three C's" of the music business: creativity, communication and commerce.

A trip to Berlin may not seem as glamorous as sunning yourself in the south of France for MIDEM, but Popkomm, set for Oct. 8-10, retains a reputation across Europe and beyond as an event where deals are done—a talking shop that regularly produces results.

With a conference, trade exhibition and showcase festival featuring more than 400 acts at 25 venues, there will be plenty to occupy delegates at the event, of which Billboard is a media partner. Following are the key issues attendees can expect to debate in the conference halls and bierkellers of Berlin.

1. Creatives Fight Back

Whether it's the Sony-BMG merger and subsequent buyout or the European Commission's (EC) attempts to reform collecting society practices, the creative process finds itself increasingly intertwined with politics.

And Popkomm, the event's managing director Ralf Kleinhenz says, "is being increasingly recognized as a platform for conducting public political discussions."

So the Bee Gees' Robin Gibb will use his role as president of CISAC, the international umbrella for collecting societies, to argue against the EC's attempts to reform societies' national agreements with authors.

Another aspect of outside "interference" with the creative sector—this time financial, rather than political—will be tackled by iconic German film producer/director Wim Wenders. His speech, investigating the relationship between film and music, will invite debate about the conflict between artistic vision and budgetary constraints.

Sweden-based Petri Lunden, artist manager and president of the International Music Managers' Forum, says he will use his keynote speech to focus on the positives of the 360-degree model.

"We, the managers, had it all along, so what's the fuss about?" he says. With wider adoption of the model, he adds, the industry could have "a shot at real transparency."

Other keynote speakers to watch for include Deutsche Grammophon's South African violin virtuoso Daniel Hope and Eric Garland, co-founder/CEO of digital-entertainment research company BigChampagne.

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