2019 American Music Awards

What To Watch For At This Year's MIDEM

Its seductive location along a palm-lined, waterfront boulevard in the south of France is one reason why MIDEM in Cannes remains the music biz's most popular global trade fair and conference.

But following an exceptionally challenging year for the industry and the global economy, a special sense of urgency will pervade this year's MIDEM (Jan. 17-21), where attendees will be focused less on building up a tan than on developing new revenue sources.

"The people who are going to be at MIDEM are going to be very willing to do business very seriously," says MIDEM director Dominique Leguern.

Artist Management

U2 manager Paul McGuinness' attention-grabbing speech attacking ISPs over online piracy set the tone for MIDEM 2008 (Billboard, Feb. 9, 2008). This year, it could be Radiohead co-manager Brian Message's turn to make headlines.

Message will offer his take on the challenges facing the digital business Jan. 19 during a Q&A session. He hasn't indicated what he plans to discuss, but a possible hint came in October 2008 when he helped launch the Featured Artists' Coalition, a U.K. lobbying group. Message complained at the time that new digital music deals were being struck "all too often without reference to the people who actually make the music."

Making money from new models will be the theme of a Jan. 19 panel, "Artists, Managers & Digital-So, Where Is the Money?"-moderated by Billboard international bureau chief Mark Sutherland-that will be led by Music Managers Forum Sweden chairman Carl Blom and Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride. The panel promises to be lively. McBride, who manages Dido and Sarah McLachlan, champions "crowd-sourcing" promotion through fan-generated videos and advocates using "über-fans" as online retailers.

"Managers have to start adding some serious value to the model, whether it's through marketing or promotional expertise or an awareness and chasing down of new opportunities," McBride says. "No more being a traffic cop."

Also attending MIDEM will be Stuart Green, manager of the U.K. "folktronica" artist Patrick Wolf. A performer at the Jan. 19 British at MIDEM showcase, Wolf released his critically acclaimed third album, "The Magic Position," in 2007 on Loog/Universal Music. His next album, "Battle," is due this spring on his own Bloody Chamber Music label and was financed by online fan contributions through Bandstocks.com.

"As a manager," Green says, "you have to increasingly take more and more of the roles and tasks which were the preserve of record companies." -Juliana Koranteng and Tom Ferguson


The reinvention of brands as major music investors will be...

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