The future and shape of Midem are uncertain following Wednesday’s (Dec. 15) announcement from brand owner RX France (formerly REED Midem) that it will no longer organize Midem events and is canceling the 2022 edition of the international music fair, originally set for June 7-10 in Cannes. But in an exclusive interview with Billboard, outgoing CEO Alexandre Deniot says he is not giving up on Midem and that he will continue to work on behalf of the international music community.
“We’re still looking at different options and what we can do in the future,” says Deniot, who is stepping down from his post but will stay on at RX France through the beginning of the year. At least some of his staff is also expected to leave the company.
“There’s a big, big need for an international event like Midem,” adds Deniot. “For the last five years, I’ve been working hard and traveling around the world to connect with people. We have now 17,000 members of the platform from 153 countries. I want to continue to serve my community and to help people connect.”
Deniot, formerly director of digital business development at Universal Music France, was appointed head of Midem in 2017, as the international market began to rebound with the advent of streaming.
Among other innovations, Deniot zeroed in on Africa and Latin America as areas of development and launched both African and Latin programming tracks.
“For the last four years, we did 10 events in seven countries and we had a digital edition of Midem Africa last June. It was not just one shot,” says Deniot. “Helping the professionalization of our community [in Africa] was fantastic. It was for the long term. It was beyond the business; it was about people, relationships and music.”
But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck at the beginning of 2020, Midem had to cancel its June 2020 edition, and then its June 2021 edition. It was part of a slew of cancellations which no doubt translated to economic loss for RX France (formerly Reed), whose core business is face-to-face large events, including MAPIC and MIPCOM.
Deniot would not provide details on why exactly RX France decided to cancel Midem this year but did say he “understood and respected” their decision.
Per an announcement issued Wednesday morning, the company is currently in conversations with the city of Cannes to take over the event, but no further details or timeline have been provided beyond the cancellation of the 2022 edition.
Midem is synonymous with Cannes. The conference launched there in 1967 and became the premier destination for the global music industry, particularly at a time when physical distribution of product was a necessity. For indies, Cannes was the place to go to ensure their product was available around the world. Midem grew exponentially, and in 2001, it drew 10,000 attendees. But the global music industry crisis resulted in a more than 50% drop in attendance in subsequent years.
In 2019, attendance had started to rise again, with 5,000 people attending the event despite the fact that the streaming model does not require physical distribution or the same degree of face-to-face meetings.
Regardless, the pandemic interrupted the growth curve and Midem was held virtually in 2020 and 2021.
Deniot continues to be bullish on what he calls a “new model” of business. “I was already working on a new model that was a mix of digital and in-person. And the business model has to be based on subscriptions,” he adds. “Professionals are going to invest a lot in the future on professional subscription services.”