Midem: OUT... but there's a surprisingly pleasant aftertaste on the way home. That's because people actually have deals and solid meetings to talk about, at least the ones tapping our shoulder. Some of this may be expense report justification, but it does seem that smaller crowds actually paved the way for more productivity, thanks to less noise, traffic, and mob-like distraction. All of which raises the question: is there value to a far-flung, smaller-style event, especially one removed from the action?
Incidentally, one executive pointed out another big shift at MIDEM: the disappearance of the 'United Nations' assembly of musical stands. Of course, a European meltdown and struggling sovereign solvency puts a damper on Riviera cultural exportations, which means less 'Latvian lap dance music' and even fewer distractions.
So who's still milling around the Rue? It seems like everyone is glomming around the Carlton, a veritable home base throughout the conference (with sprinklings around the Palais des Festivals VIP lounge). Actually, crowds seemed to flock around the Carlton dive nearly every night, despite a seriously-lacking DJ and offensively overpriced snacks. But if you have to ask...
And here's an unfamiliar face we saw on the Rue: Public Knowledge, a digital and access advocacy group mostly roosting around Washington. Strangely, Public Knowledge was co-hosting quite the classy, low-key dinner at Auberge Provencale with NVPR and Disconic, with incoming Public board member Hal Bringman the link. Seen dining were 'Tommy Boy' Silverman (New Music Seminar), BMI senior vice president Richard Conlon, StageIt founder/CEO Evan Lowenstain, and .music contender Constantine Roussos, among others.
Incidentally, there's some very healthy buzz surrounding StageIt, one of the winners at Midemlab's startup competition. Enthusiastic entrepreneur Evan Lowenstein (incidentally, a member of the one-hit-wondering Evan & Jaron in the 90s) has been quietly racking up some interesting artist success stories, not to mention attracting backing from Sean Parker and Jimmy Buffett. But is there an exit here?
And who else didn't we see? That would be Grooveshark, which seemed notably absent from any events. Perhaps everyone breaks eventually: back in 2011, the company was brashly commissioning sand sculptures on the Riviera and snidely sending expensive drinks to Universal Music Group tables; this year, such frivolity is probably not in the heavily lawyered-up budget. Let's see if there's a 2014.
Which opens the lane for other streaming upstarts, like Deezer. In many ways, Deezer is just like Cannes: it's a French classic, with tons of Russia money pouring in. And just like the Riviera artisans of old, Deezer is now painting the world with its platform, with 22 additional countries now on the list. That brings the grand total to 182 (I think there are 196 in total, depending on how you count it).
Then there's the matter of FUGA, which went rogue on a remote MIDEM house party (complete with remote, helium-filled sharks by the pool, of course). That's where we found out that FUGA is preparing quite the disclosure ahead (Digital Music News will have it first; stay tuned).
While we're in France, it looks like Daft Punk has now inked with Columbia Records ahead of a new album release. The group defected from EMI (yeah, we spelled that right).
And here's another artist first for Kickstarter. Bjork has just tapped the platform to finance a Biophilia app expansion into Android and Windows 8; the target is roughy $590,000.
If you're still rumbling around the Rue, hit me up! paulr@...
Taylor NOLA Tuesday, January 29, 2013