MidemNet 2008 has officially kicked off.

The two-day music and new-media conference's visionary chair committee, chaired by Ted Cohen, managing director of TAG Strategic, set off this morning with a mission to discuss the "future of the business and where the value is going to come from."

Speaking during the opening session, veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith, managing director of Artiste Management Productions, called for unity across the industry.

"There's got to be an equitable balance," he said. "Currently labels are getting beaten up left, right and center. Which is fair enough, because they all live in ivory towers. But the artists are just as guilty."

Cohen added, "It's got to be about working partnerships if we are going to go the distance."

The second session, entitled "music and services, matching the license frame with new usages," was a simmering affair which threatened at times to boil-over, with panellists regularly disagreeing on the systems for royalties collections.

"Why have we muddied so many of these potentially strong business debates," commented Alison Wenham, chair/CEO of British indie labels association AIM and president of the Worldwide Independent Network. "There is a value for music. Rights users need to pay. The one stop solution needs not just structural change," she said, "but quantum change."

Today's opening-day program includes various technology-focused panels, a presentation with Creative Commons' professor Lawrence Lessig, and heavyweight Q&As with Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy, Live Nation Recordings' Bob Ezrin, and Joost, Kazaa and Skype founder Janus Friis.

For more coverage of MidemNet, look to Billboard.biz.

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