CANNES, France — Those of you who know your Greek mythology may want to keep in mind the story of the Gods and the Titans. Remember? The Titans ruled the world with absolute power and gave birth to the Gods of Olympus. The Gods, of course, usurped power from the Titans and banished them.
It’s hard not to think about this story while attending MIDEM. Here, you have many Titans of the music industry flocking to see, be seen, and reconnect with their old-guard friends. For the most part, it’s the old-school execs who have been around for years (sometimes decades) that get the go-ahead to fly to the South of France and enjoy a few days of late-night partying and dealmaking.
But then you have the Gods of tech, the young guns at the startups, representing a sharp contrast to their Titan elders. Ian Rogers of Topspin, for instance, is here looking (as ever) like a skater slacker, but has been seen holding serious meetings on the floor while the pinstriped suits ensconce themselves in their private suites (no yachts as far as we’ve seen, though). He’s actually sharing a rented house with Next Big Sound CEO Alex White and Songkick founder Ian Hogarth and others instead of throwing down the cash on penthouses at the Carlton.
They represent the future of the music industry: the disruptive technologies and business models that frankly the rest of the attendees here are more interested in learning about.
“Why don’t labels send their young hotshots?,” one attendee asked on the sidelines. But then he noted that most of the digitally savvy young pioneers of today don’t work for the labels. They work for the startups, the tech companies — because that’s where the action is.
This isn’t meant to ding the labels as being old and out of touch, or the new upstarts as young and inexperienced (although some of them are, in both cases). But there is a major generational shift taking place that is more evident at a show like MIDEM because this is one of the few conferences that sees significant attendance from both the tech and music sectors.
None of them are saying so, but the music industry Titans here must be looking at these young tech Gods and wonder to themselves how much longer Olympus will be theirs?