The mutual benefits of music makers getting involved in video games, movie advertising and consumer brand marketing were on parade Monday (Jan. 22) as the Music for Images strand took center stage on day two of the Midem conference.

Veteran rocker and record producer Nile Rodgers (Chic, Sister Sledge) declared himself as a major video game player, and said that he was having as much fun producing video game soundtracks for his Sumthing Else Music Works label as he did in his early days of rock 'n' roll.

Rodgers quoted two formative heroes in explaining why he was in the record and video game businesses. When he was 11, he said, he heard Malcom X say, "Black people will never be free until they control the means of distribution. "And years later the late Ahmet Ertegun told him that the reason radio was then so important was because the thing that sold records was repetition. "What," Rodgers asked the Midem gathering, "is more repetitious than the "music in a video game?"

Working on hit video games including the "Halo" series, he said, had taught him that the music for games was just as artistic as any other kind of music. "They don't think of it as art because it's called a game," he said.

"Rodgers said that he experimented temping film sequences with music from video games and successfully placed music by veteran hip-hoppers Organized Noise in Michael Mann's feature "Miami Vice." As a result, he said he is starting up an agency to represent video game composers in the film and television world.

Rodgers stayed on for a panel addressing challenges for labels and composers, hosted by Music4Games, that coughed up the intriguing reality that whereas writing music for film and TV involved timing for fixed cues, writing for video games requires 100 or more alternate musical twists. "It's the most creative medium out there," said panelist British composer Richard Jacques.

Warner Bros. Pictures director of music Niki Gascon and Open Road Entertainment music supervisor Drew Sherrod put on an entertaining husband-and-wife act as they explained the realities of using music for movie trailers. With hits such as "Happy Feet" and "The Departed" to their credit, their message that the marketing budget for big studio movies is separate from that of making films had Midem attendees flocking around them following their session.

With Mathew Knowles, president of Music World Entertainment, a no-show for his scheduled interview after missing his flight, the strand moved on to an hour-long debate about the advantages and perils of artists getting into bed with big-name brands. Representatives of agency Frukt, Coca-Cola, AOL, Sony BMG Entertainment and BBH were on hand with proceedings mostly harmonious until attorney Kenneth Hertz, of Goldring Hertz and Lichtenstein in the U.S., articulated the artists' point of view.

Challenging the notion of record labels getting into the business of making deals with brand on behalf of artists, he said, "When the opportunity comes to the artist via the label, the first thing the artist wants to know is how much is Coke or Samsung or whoever paying you? What artists want from brands is different from what the record industry wants." There was some applause from the audience.

In the afternoon's Live Music Network session, panellists from across the business opined on the live sector's route to the future. The cellular phone, IMMF president Peter Jenner said, will "change our business completely. It will become the portable computer." He went on, "If you see it as a threat then you are ignoring its potential. The labels tend to see it as a threat."

His comments, however, were rejected by telecoms group O2's head of music sponsorship Nuala Donnelly. "I don't think labels see us as a threat, she said. "There has been a big shift in recent years."

Speaking from the audience, veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith chimed in to the debate. "The solution is about honesty. If you're all honest with each other, everyone gets a benefit from it. It's about honesty and greed."

In an anecdote-filled conversation session, Claude Nobs, founder/CEO of Montreux Jazz Festival, suggested that mobile technology and the live business would co-exist in years to come. "Mobile is definitely going to go in a big way. But there is a need for live music," he said. "People will enjoying watching [footage] on a small screen, but they'll always need the interaction of live concerts." Nobs is recipient of the prestigious Midem 2007 Personality of the Year award, which is presented tonight at a black-tie gala in Cannes.

QUOTES OF THE DAY

"Thank God they can't drink Coca Cola digitally for the time being," Umut Ozaydini, Worldwide Sports and Entertainment Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola.

"Forgive me. I'm an old rock and roll guy and time is just a blur - too many drugs, too many late nights," Nile Rodgers, founder and music producer, Sumthing Else Music Works.

"'Where's Claude, I want to kill him' [she said]. Which was funny because two days before she wanted to marry me." Claude Nobs, founder/CEO of Montreux Jazz Festival, reminiscing on Nina Simone during an entertaining conversation session with Billboard executive editor Tamara Conniff.

"Communism, Crips and crack. Everything that rhymes with a c in the alphabet," George Clinton, founder of Parliament and Funkadelic, explains the inspiration behind the name of his new label the C Kunspyruhzy (pronounced "C Conspiracy") Label.

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