MIDEM 2014 Preview: 14 Things To Watch

MIDEM's InnovationFactory sessions, staged in 2013, will return this year.

Photo: Bukajlo/image & Co/MIDEM

The following article, "14 Things To Watch at MIDEM in 2014," is from Billboard magazine as part of a special feature package on MIDEM featuring Billboard's inaugural International Power Players list and an extensive interview with Billboard's Industry Icon Award honoree Paul McGuinness, U2s longtime manager who is You can pick up this special issue here. subsribe to Billboard here  


When MIDEM convenes in Cannes Feb. 1-4, the event will once again draw participants from more corners of the globe than any other music business conference. In 2013, more than 6,400 participants from 75 countries and 3,000 companies participated in MIDEM, which is now in its 48th year.

How can one get a grasp on the numerous offerings at MIDEM?

Billboard offers this guide to 14 points to watch at MIDEM in 2014 from a trans-Atlantic perspective, as compiled by senior editorial analyst Glenn Peoples in the United States and contributor Richard Smirke in the United Kingdom. Note that event times are subject to change. Find updates at ­MIDEM.com.

1. The Global Village Of The Music Industry
MIDEM is like the Olympics of the music business. Although no medals will be given for best royalty accounting system, the annual conference is like a global village that brings together professionals from across the world. Countries have booths—often beautifully designed and eye-catching—that host meetings and allow people to make new business contacts. “MIDEM brings together prospective new partners and offers time for updates with existing partners,” says Rich Bengloff, president of the American Assn. of Independent Music, aka A2IM. Looking beyond one’s own borders is crucial in today’s market. Bengloff notes the U.S. market has shrunk to 27% of worldwide wholesale revenue from 34% in 2005. Some independent labels will be making the trip to MIDEM for the first time. Bengloff adds that more than 20 A2IM members will attend the conference with the help of the support of the International Trade Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce that helps U.S. organizations do business at home and abroad.
2. The Path To Future Growth
During the past year the global music industry returned to marginal growth after a decade-long decline. Reflecting the cautious optimism of many industry executives, this year’s MIDEM is constructed around the theme “Get Back to Growth? Make It Sustainable!” with a wealth of panels focused on building new revenue in the fast-evolving digital age. The panel discussion “How Labels Reinvent Fan Engagement” at 12 p.m. on Feb. 1 will offer insight into how the indie sector drives sales through innovative practice. The keynote address from William Morris Endeavor global head of music Marc Geiger, titled “20 Years of Pain. No More Fooling Around: The Definitive Future of the Music Business” and presented at 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 2, promises to be one of the more uncompromising, thought-provoking accounts of the challenges ahead. At 4 p.m. on Feb. 3, Orchard co-founder/VP of international Scott Cohen will be joined by Facebook manager of strategic partnerships Ime Archibong to discuss harnessing big data in “Getting International With Big Data: The New Eldorado.”

3. A Newsmaking Keynote
Each year, MIDEM makes news with high-profile keynote speakers and 2014 will be no exception. Lyor Cohen, former recorded-music chief for Warner Music Group, will present a keynote address at 4 p.m. on Feb. 2, outlining his plans for his new Google-backed label venture 300. He’ll be interviewed by Tom Silverman, executive director of New Music Seminar and CEO of Tommy Boy, as part of the “MIDEM Talks” conference program. This appearance marks the first time Cohen has publicly discussed his plans for 300 and he’s expected to offer insight into the digital-era strategies that his new music company will follow, as well as his overall vision for successfully navigating the 21st-century music business. 300 was first unveiled last year and was co-founded with two of Cohen’s long-term music partners, Todd Moscowitz (ex-Warner Bros. president) and Kevin Liles (former executive VP at Warner Music). All three execs also worked together at Def Jam, which Cohen ran in the ’80s and ’90s. The new music company, which counts Google among its investors, has signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records, although it is yet to announce any artist signings.

4. Brands, Brands, Brands
How frequently will brands be mentioned at MIDEM? Here’s one hint: The conference program mentions the word “brands” 49 times. There will be no shortage of programming dedicated to brands, from one-on-one discussions to “speed meetings” that provide quick yet valuable face time. One highlight will happen at 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 1, when Oliver Francois, chief marketing officer and head of the Fiat brand for Chrysler Group in the United States and Italy, will take part in a “Visionary Talk” and explain why brand partnerships are crucial to music industry growth. On Feb. 2, there will be a case study at 10:30 a.m. on Electronic Beats, an international music program by Deutsch Telekom that’s active in 10 European markets. Electronic Beats encompasses a website, quarterly magazine, DVD magazine and branded live events. Also on Feb. 2 at 12 p.m.: a panel discussion featuring executives from Warner Music Group, Believe Recordings and SONGS Music Publishing on music companies’ relationships with brands and agencies.

MIDEM Director Bruno Crolot welcoming attendees at the
2013 conference. Photo: Y. Coatsaliou/360 Media/MIDEM


5. The Streaming Debate
The pros and cons of the streaming model has been one of the most fiercely debated talking points of the past 12 months with everyone from ­Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to David Byrne voicing their well-publicized opinions. The merits of streaming platforms like Spotify and Deezer will be discussed at 5:45 p.m. on Feb. 1 during the panel “Streaming: A Sustainable Platform for Artists?” Brian Message, Music Managers Forum chairman and co-manager of Radiohead, and Stephen Bryan, WMG executive VP of digital strategy and business development, are among the executives participating. At 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 3, MIDiA Consulting’s Mark Mulligan will lead the panel discussion “Making Streaming Add Up.” At 5:30 p.m. the same day, Jean Michel Jarre, French EDM pioneer and president of CISAC, the global organization for authors’ societies, will argue the case for creators to receive fair remuneration from today’s digital economy, which he terms an “ecological emergency.”

6. Marketing Know-How
Like other conferences, MIDEM offers numerous panels and discussions to help artists and professionals become better marketers and stay on top of best practices. Two panels on Feb. 1 should not be missed. At noon, “How to Reinvent Fan Engagement” will discuss how to improve artist promotions and turn followers into fans and fans into consumers. At 2 p.m., Max Kaizen, executive creative director for Ogilvy Digital Marketing Academy in South Africa, will host “Low-Cost Audio Engagement: From Content to Context,” a presentation that will show the steps to create a vibrant fan ecosystem. Then at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 4, Nu Jazz Entertainment president Jerald Miller will show how to use social media for catalog music and non-pop fare like jazz, classical and world. Miller’s presentation is especially timely. Catalog sales are lagging current sales in the United States, and the major marketing dollars flow toward pop hits, not the niche genres residing outside the mainstream.

7. Online Video’s Potential
As if proof were needed, the huge success of Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and PSY in 2013 asserted ­YouTube’s dominant position as the online destination for discovering and consuming music. One MIDEM industry talk that shouldn’t be missed is “Fueled by Video Success” at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, which will feature Google VP of YouTube content Tom Pickett, YouTube director of music content partnerships Vivien Lewit and INDmusic CEO Brandon Martinez among the speakers discussing audience engagement and monetizing video. The next day at 3 p.m., TAG Strategic managing partner Ted Cohen will moderate a panel on how to navigate the complex world of multichannel networks and not get burned. Hit British singer Rita Ora will also discuss her participation in Vevo’s “LIFT” artist development program. Ora’s keynote case study takes place at 5 p.m. on Feb. 2, and she’ll be joined by Vevo senior VP Nic Jones.