As the world’s largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year’s gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. This year’s event, taking place Jan. 26-29 at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, promises similar robust participation.
So, how best to manage MIDEM? Billboard offers this 13-point guide of what to watch in 2013, from a trans-Atlantic perspective. U.S.-based senior editorial analyst Glenn Peoples and U.K.-based contributor Richard Smirke have surveyed the trends, panels, showcases and more coming to Cannes, providing their priority picks.The full MIDEM agenda can be found at midem.com, while discussions can be followed on Twitter at #midem.
1. STARTUPS AND VENTURE CAPITALISTS
SoundCloud, the Echo Nest and Songkick all received an early boost at previous editions of MIDEM’s digital startup competition, MIDEMlab. The 30 finalists competing this year will no doubt be looking to make a similarly big splash in the music space. Deezer CEO Axel Dauchez and Amazon VP of digital music Steve Boom are among the jury members, with daily pitch sessions taking place at the Innovation Factory, a dedicated tech zone. For startups looking for funding, Walden Venture Capital managing director Larry Marcus will lead a panel session on “How to Get a VC Excited About Partnering With You” at 10:20 a.m. on Jan. 28. MIDEM Hack Day once again brings together 30 developers and gives them 48 hours to build game-changing apps that will be unveiled at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 28.
2. ALL THINGS SOCIAL
Social media discussions are all over this year’s MIDEM program, from the keynote with Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus to a “Digital Deconstruction Workshop” in which three experts will critique and make suggestions for attendees’ websites and social media strategies. Speakers will share their “how to” knowledge on everything from Instagram to Pinterest. Panelists speaking about the power of social media range from Tumblr’s music evangelist to the GM of the San Francisco Symphony. On the innovation side of things, the presentations during MIDEMlab will include business model pitches by startups in the marketing and social engagement category.
3. GOING MOBILE
Taking place amid the many “how to” panels will be a few discussions that will peer into a future of ubiquitous connectivity. Imagine listening to Internet radio in your car and always having a fast download speed. The session “Toward a Connected Life” at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 will offer three distinct perspectives about how the entertainment industry can partner with cities and manufacturers to make content more accessible. Participating will be Paul Mascarenas, chief technology officer for Ford; T.J. Kang, senior VP of media services for Samsung Electronics; and Jean-Louis Missika, Paris’ deputy mayor in charge of innovation. On Jan. 29 at 10:30 a.m., mobile and digital executives will discuss “Where to Find Innovation in Mobile Music.”
4. BIG DATA
The music industry is a few years into the data revolution, and big data is a regular topic at conferences. “Music as Data-Informed Business,” at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, will feature representatives from Nielsen, Next Big Sound, EMI Music and the Danish collection society Koda discussing how to make data-informed decisions rather than uninformed, gut-driven ones. Data is also at the heart of music licensing. “GRD, It’s Started!,” at 10:50 a.m. on Jan. 29, will give an update on the Global Repertoire Database that aims to provide a single, worldwide repository with authoritative information to be used by digital service providers, authors’ societies and music publishers.
5. AFTER THE EMI DEALS
The absorption of EMI Recorded Music and EMI Music Publishing by, respectively, Universal Music Group and Sony/ATV Music Publishing was one of the top music business stories of 2012. The ongoing ramifications of those deals are sure to be a dominant talking point at MIDEM. Guidance on how to successfully navigate the newly reconfigured music landscape will be provided by the MIDEM Academy (Jan. 26-29), as well as numerous other panels, discussions and workshops. Of particular note are “Next Gen Managers: Multi-Tasking, Social Media and Sourcing New Revenue Streams” at 4:10 p.m. on Jan. 26; “Brands, Bands and Content: How Access Became the New King” at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 28; and “Next Gen Labels: Beyond the Hype Factor,” moderated by Glassnote Entertainment Group CEO Daniel Glass, on Jan. 28 at 4:10 p.m.
6. I FOUGHT THE LAW… AND WON
As the music business becomes ever more fragmented and diversified, the need for strong legal counsel across all levels is essential. At 10 a.m. on Jan. 27, “What You Need to Know in 2013: The Legal Update for Entertainment and Technology” will examine the complexities and potential pitfalls of today’s industry. On the same day at noon, attorney Bernard Resnick will lead a master class on “Negotiating a Branding Deal.” The panel session “I Love My Lawyer! How Creative Counsel Support Growth & Innovation” follows, also on Jan. 27, at 2:30 p.m. MIDEM attendees seeking one-on-one advice should head to the Networking Village at 10 a.m. on Jan. 28 for a chance to “Meet the Lawyers.” Further expert insight can be gained at the “Understanding International Digital Music Licensing” panel at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 29.
7. RIGHTS REVERSION
Copyright law in the United States allows rights to revert back to artists after 35 years for works created after Jan. 1, 1978. This means a slate of titles became the legal possession of the artist or composer starting Jan. 1. But the commencement of this reversion has also brought many thorny legal questions about the nature and timing of works. Were they works for hire? Were they part of contracts that began before 1978? The keynotes and panels won’t focus on rights reversion, but don’t be surprised if lawyers attending MIDEM discuss this important topic among themselves.
8. DRAWING A CROWD
During 2012, crowd-funding truly came of age with Amanda Palmer becoming its most famous proponent by raising $1.2 million through Kickstarter. At 10:40 a.m. on Jan. 26, Kevin Wortis, who heads label services for Palmer and other artists at Girlie Action, will offer a first-hand perspective on how to build a successful direct-to-fan strategy. At 11:30 a.m. the same day, singer/songwriter Julia Nunes will discuss how she raised more than $75,000 through Kickstarter and generated some 50 million YouTube views without major-label backing. Also appearing as part of the “Artists Speak to Artists” program will be Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, whose iPhone app has been downloaded more than 10 million times. Further entrepreneurial advice for independent artists can be picked up from a crowd-funding workshop held at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 26.
9. MORE BRANDS AND AGENCIES
Last year’s MIDEM saw an increased focus on brands and agencies. MIDEM 2013 boosts that commitment, with the creation of a new Brand Central area, set to become the hub of advertising activity. At 4:40 p.m. on Jan. 28, American Express executive VP/chief marketing officer John Hayes will discuss monetizing content through AmEx’s “Unstaged” concert series. Throughout the conference, case studies will be presented on music partnerships by Heineken, Reebok, Swarovski and car manufacturer MINI, among others. Meanwhile, this year’s MIDEM marketing competition will be split into two categories: most innovative use of music/partnership with an artist in a marketing campaign and best music placement in advertising. Winners will be announced at 3:10 p.m. on Jan. 28.
10. REMEMBER BRICK-AND-MORTAR?
With so much attention being given to new business models, it’s easy to forget that most music consumers-outside of such places as Sweden and Norway-still buy music the old-fashioned way: at brick-and-mortar stores. Traditional retail and physical formats are hardly out of new ideas. On-demand manufacturing is used to help online retailers carry titles while reducing their physical inventories. Some retailers are putting a great emphasis on customer service. Among genres that still rely on physical retail is classical music. “When Traditional Retailing Still Works” will examine the strength of classical record stores at 4:15 p.m. on Jan. 26.
11. MEETING CLASSICAL NEEDS
In a 2012 interview with Billboard, MIDEM director Bruno Crolot singled out the classical music industry as “a specific community with specific needs.” This year’s MIDEM aims to address those needs with an increased number of panels specifically targeting classical artists, labels and publishers. New this year is the Classical Bar and Discussion Lounge, a dedicated area for networking and debate. Naxos of America CEO Jim Selby and Virgin Classics president Alain Lanceron are among those leading the sessions. At 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang will share how he utilized technology and brand partnerships to reach a global audience. The same day at 5:10 p.m., X5 Music Group CEO Johan Lagerlöf will explore exploiting classical in the digital space during “How the Music Industry Manages Innovation.”
12. PUTTING ARTISTS FIRST
From crowd-funding to new business models, many of today’s innovations focus on how to better serve the artist. A keynote address at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 29 will feature Kobalt Music Group founder/CEO Willard Ahdritz. Kobalt was built to better service its songwriters through improved transparency, modern infrastructure and reduction in collection time. Like Kobalt, many people are trying to find ways to give the artist a larger share of the pie. On Jan. 26 at 3:30 p.m., attorney Martin F. Frascogna will discuss the pros and cons of the “anti-360 deal,” a type of contract between artists and lifestyle brands that gives intellectual property ownership to artists.
13. DON’T MISS THE PITCHES
Some of the most illuminating and fun panels at MIDEM are pitch sessions in which attendees hear from advertising or gaming executives on why select songs would or wouldn’t work for a campaign or game. At 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, Tim Riley and Brandon Young from Activision Blizzard will listen to songs that have a chance to be used in an upcoming, unannounced Activision Blizzard driving/racing game. The following day at 2:30 p.m., Josh Rabinowitz of Grey Worldwide will host a pitch session for music to be used in a campaign for restaurant chain Red Lobster (tracks will have been submitted ahead of time through Sonicbids).