You may be here this year. But what about next year, and the year after that? This is now an obvious problem for Midem organizers, who finally got the memo that legacy doesn't pay the bills. Which is why a complete facelift is now underway, with SXSW and even upstarts like the SF MusicTech Summit informing the transformation. The highly-structured presentations and discussion blocks of yesteryear have been replaced with frenetic, all-at-once how-tos, with lots of emphasis on DIY, startups, and 'hothouse' innovation. This is now a legacy conference struggling to find a brand-new sweet-spot, whatever that may be.
So will it all work? The answer is, it has to work. This is a bold-and-necessary change for disruptive times: Midem organizers are apparently claiming a solid increase in attendance this year, though the regulars don't seem convinced. "Shockingly empty" was how one top lawyer put it, and we met two executives (separately) that actually counted the number of registered attendees to confirm their suspicions. 5,682 is the number on midem.com, and one indie label owner pointed to 'seven thousand something last year,' all part of a not-so-healthy game of 'guess-the-decline'.
Just outside the showfloor at the Palais des Festivales.
The Nice airport and streets of Cannes did seem a little empty, and a steady drizzle didn't help. Yet the hob-knobbing at the Carlton seems packed as ever (try getting a table), fans were cramming to see stars like LMFAO and Justin Bieber at the NRJ Awards on Saturday night, and the Orchard threw a healthily-attended shindig at their well-appointed hotel suite (X5 Music threw another packed party on Sunday at the Carlton).
The Orchard shindig.
There've been other signs of life. A low-key Google party on the top floor of the Martinez was also well attended, despite whisper invitations. Yet down in the lobby, the traditionally-busy Martinez bar seemed half-full at times, which sort of tells the story at this conference. Because Midem seems packed, that is, if you're in the right spot. Back at the main Palais de Festivales, the floorspace for exhibitions was noticeably smaller than previous years, yet Midem smartly crammed the action into less real estate. Presentations and discussions are now held out in the open, in earshot of the next panel, with crowds milling through a bazaar of stands, how-tos, and impromptu meetings. It's less stuff, in a more chaotic and compressed space. "Very clever idea," remarked dotMusic founder Constantine Roussos.
The spotty scene at the Martinez bar Saturday night.
And maybe the numbers game is the wrong game to be playing here. Because for those chasing certain objectives, this is still ground zero, and heavyweights are definitely milling around. That includes Lyor Cohen, rumored to be shopping for a new gig; Seymour Stein, who pranced into the Orchard party late-night; and apparently lots of investors with tranches of cash in hand. Jack Isquith, SVP of Strategic Development at Slacker, was busy discussing global deals, which are happening outside of his North American roost.
And we couldn't help but notice a steady cast of important attendees that included Elizabeth Moody (Google Music), Ian Rogers (Topspin), Vince Bannon (Getty Images), Sam Tarantino (Grooveshark), Scott Ambrose (X5), Andrew Mains (Mobile Roadie), Bill Werde (Billboard), Rob Wells (UMG), Brad Navin (The Orchard), Charles Caldas (Merlin), David Hyman (MOG), Jay Frank (DigSin), Peter Aldaheff (Berklee), Ralph Simon (MEF), Panos Panay (Sonicbids), and Patrick Sullivan (Google-acquired Rightsflow).
Apple seemed totally absent, and there were notably absent faces. Freshly-gobbled BigChampagne CEO Eric Garland was back at Live Nation headquarters in LA "building things" according to a tweet, and we bumped into a few Spotify executives but no Daniel Ek. Still, other heavyweights-in-attendance came from Facebook, Coca-Cola, Sony Music Entertainment, and Saatchi & Saatchi, among others.
But the burning question is whether Midem can retain its worldwide relevance going forward, especially given its out-of-the-way and expensive locale. For Americans, it's an increasingly easy decision: this is a long and complicated flight even from New York, and LA - arguably a growing hub for the music industry - is one insanely-long plane ride away. Meanwhile, SXSW is now indisputably the worldwide king of music conferences; we struggled to get a hotel months in advance, and we're not alone.
And even if you hate the psychotic rush that Austin has become, it increasingly feels like SXSW is the one conference you absolutely must attend. By stark contrast, Midem no longer carries that important obligation.
Report by publisher Paul Resnikoff in Cannes.
NoraBarnacle Sunday, January 29, 2012
Perhaps it's just me, but I have completely different associations with SXSW and Midem.
I find SXSW to be a great showcase for artists, while Midem encompasses the business and tech sides of the industry more.
Cannes isn't convenient, even for the French locals, but I think the objective of each event is different enough that it isn't fair to say that SXSW may replace Midem or that Midem is becoming irrelevent.
steven corn Sunday, January 29, 2012
Midem definitely still matters. I'm able to meet most of my DSP clients in one week as opposed to doing several trips all over the world. Our A&R department is still acquiring rights to great catalogs.
While the number of meetings are lower than usual for my team, the quality is much higher.
The ROI for Midem this year will likely be high as usual.
Visitor Sunday, January 29, 2012
I agree with Steven. Have you seen the A2IM stand? It's packed with people doing meetings all day long. The hallways are noticeably empty of the people that used to come pushing their Hungarian electro-dance music but for anyone with meaningful international business partners Midem is still the place to meet with many of them in one location over 4 days to discuss the coming year. Plus with the addition of the tech presentations I think Midem is doing a very good job of expanding their offering to make this a very worthwhile trip.
Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. If you have 1 record commercially available and are still trying to find your way you should probably stick to a lower priced, local event that is more about teaching than completing commerce deals. No offense. I'm not saying that you're not worthy. I'm just saying that Midem was never really for that type and because it grew to be so important and so hyped it may have become mistaken as a place worth going for people who weren't quite ready to go.
If you have a solid business in your own country and are looking to expand it or you have a good international business that you want to build upon, Midem is a worthwhile investment (made all the more so by their new tech presentation aspects).
since2005 Sunday, January 29, 2012
the good news is that MIDEM is about the business and people want to meet and do business. The bad news is that there are still too many people focused on getting things back to the way they were and hoping a new law or technology will do it.
for better and for worse - and I am sure for the better in the long term - the world has changed and there is no way to put the toothpaste back in that tube.
embrace the change, take advantage of the fact that the old gates are now unlocked, that the old distribution charges are now gone, and figure out how you can take advantage of what listeners are doing now.
too much! Sunday, January 29, 2012
Midem is too expensive for freelancers.
R.P. Monday, January 30, 2012
Midem never mattered.
bull Monday, January 30, 2012
MIDEM = hype festival for money laundering scams, sorry..."startups"...
Jeff Monday, January 30, 2012
Good job at finding a location that makes midem look quiet.
Also, that's not "Just outside the showfloor at the Palais des Festivales.". That's 'just outside', then down the escalators, and then a 1,5 minute walk away from the showfloor, where there's just some offices and no real reason to be there for most visitors.
paul Monday, January 30, 2012
From here, the showfloor starts in about 30 seconds of walking. It was shot directly outside of a 'hothouse' innovation room, right next to the VIP area as well and a walkway to the front door of the Palais.
That's the point I'm trying to make - it's outside the now-compressed 'zone'.
Klaus Heymann Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Melissa Kate Sunday, February 05, 2012
I am a first-timer to MIDEM, but following the knowledge of my manager (MIDEM attendee for over 20 years) and co-worker at Three 2 Go records, was as fully aware of the changes MIDEM has undergone as they were. In spite of the changes-- there is no place, and no conference, where you can meet with as many people from all over the world in one place. Whereas I might have had to fly to the UK, to France, to Germany, to India to meet people, here- we sat down in one place over four days and conducted quite an astonishing amount of business. SXSW has its own focus, and MIDEM does it differently. Is it getting too expensive? It is expensive, but much of that is due to the Euro's dance with the dollar (my $100 to 65 Euro? ouch..) MIDEM might be too much for a freelancer-- but if its focus continues to be on the business end of the music business, it will attract the right people and continue to for years to come. However-- next year, let's have a proper MIDEM bag, what do you say?