12 Reasons to Stop Attending MIDEM…

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If you’re into blowing money and wasting time in the South of France, then have fun at MIDEM, which starts early next month.  Otherwise, consider these reasons for scratching this crusty conference off the list:

(1) You Can’t Afford It.

If you’re already in Europe or a nearby country, then maybe this conference makes sense.  But if you’re based anywhere else, especially the US, then you’re paying thousands for flights, hotels, admissions fees, expensively-small portions, insultingly-overpriced drinks, and overpriced Wifi (if it’s available and/or reliable).

Last year, I bought a ‘1664’ beer for 12 Euros.  I never want to do that again.

But you booked early, got a cheap hotel, and eat at dives!  Great: have fun walking a kilometer to the conference (in the rain), eating Chinese food, and stressing about surprise over-charges.  Because unless there’s a very clear ROI attached to this trip, you’re probably wasting your cash.


(2) You Can’t Afford the Time.

Even if you’re coming from Europe, you may be draining your most precious resource: time.  Because all the flights, ground transportation, weather problems, delays, and time disconnected start adding up immediately.  Again, time = money, and if you’re a serious professional you have a concrete valuation of what every hour is worth.  And it probably doesn’t make mathematical sense for MIDEM.

The upside of MIDEM is that it still attracts a core of business-focused people, most of whom are dealmaking with fewer distractions.  The question is whether you couldn’t do that same level of dealmaking, or more, at home, for a lot less money (and time).


(3) MIDEM Is Dying.  You Should be Growing.

Here’s Exhibit A.  Any questions?

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(4) French People Don’t Really Like Americans.

Yes, there are amazingly awesome French people, and you will meet some of them at this conference.  But for the most part, French people don’t really like Americans, even in the south.  And there’s a decent chance they despise you (unless they are paid to pretend otherwise).


(5) The Conference Organizers Don’t Really Like YOU.

This is a conference that takes place in a snooty place, with a snooty pedigree, and plenty of snooty attitude to go around.  And unless you’re an extremely sought-after superstar artist or executive, you will feel this.


(6) Other Conferences Are Doing It Better.

Smart people have gotten this memo; especially the smartest people, who aren’t attending Midem and shifting their resources to events like Music Matters, Eurosonic, SF MusicTech, or even SXSW.  And part of that is Midem’s fault: this is a conference that has refused to shift locations and otherwise adapt.  They are also notorious for refusing to pay for top-level speakers, which means less top-level speakers and superstars show up.


(7) The Flights Suck

Again, the exception is in Europe, where a high-speed train, short flight, or even a drive can get you to MIDEM in a few hours.  Otherwise, prepare for a nightmarish journey: if you’re crossing the Atlantic, then you’ve already committing at least 6 hours over the Atlantic, sans Wifi.  But that’s not all, because it’s nearly impossible to get an affordable direct flight into Nice this time of year, which means you’ll be transferring terminals in London, Paris, Frankfurt, or some other European city that you won’t have time to check out.

So have fun haggling with the airline, dealing with weather delays, and wasting money and time.  And when something goes wrong, it’s gonna cost you (in both money, and time).


(8) It Sucks Once You Land.

Nice airport is far from Cannes!  If you’re a VIP, you’ll have a ride waiting for you.  Otherwise, try catching a bus, which is actually affordable and not nightmarish.

But wait: did you land too late for that bus?  Awesome: then you’ll be paying up to 75 euros ($100) for a taxi ride to your hotel, with a cab driver that doesn’t like you and thinks he’s doing you a favor (welcome to France).


(9) The Weather Sucks.

If you’re coming from Minnesota or Finland, the weather in Canne is amazing about now.  Otherwise, this is the completely wrong time to be hanging out here.  It’s cold in January and February, and you can’t enjoy the beach because it’s drizzling.


(10) The Service Is Slooooowwww…

You will wait interminably for food and drinks, especially if you’re used to New York restaurants and cafes.  Part of the reason is that waiters and waitresses aren’t hustling for tips like in America, but even Europeans have a problem with this!  Oh, the other reason is that the help despises you (see #4).


(11) Cannes Is Completely Over-rated.

It’s touristy, over-hyped, and cheap… except that it’s extremely expensive.   So if you’re on a budget, just head to the Subway, now right next to McDonald’s in the center of town.  And watch out for the dog poop, which is everywhere.

(If you have the time, trek around surrounding areas, which are extremely beautiful…)


(12) No One Says Anything at MIDEM!

You think Daniel Ek is going to talk about some strategic secrets and trends?  Of course not!  He’s busy doing other things, and announcing them later.  Which means you might pick up a nugget or two of good information, but most of the panels will be fluff and stuff you already know (or read on Digital Music News).


So if you’ve already booked your flights and hotels, then have fun and make great deals (and tell us about them).  Otherwise, do yourself a favor and save your money and precious time for something else.

31 Responses

  1. Chris H

    I do all of them, for vastly different business reasons. The deals I cut at Midem are completely different than the reasons I attend SXSW or even SF Music Tech (which is observation only, there are precious few people in the at that event to even be able to cut a deal with, as far as rights holders go). I guess it’s a bad deal for a music trade to go to MIDEM. I understand that and you make a lot of valid points about the change needed, but it is still a vital conference overall that produces ROI for many of us.

    • any mouse

      I probably haven’t been in close to a decade. I can’t imagine what there is to do for an indie label there.

      Time was, before the Euro when US money went a long way in the shoppes. It was like you got HALF OFF for landing in France, and then another 20-50% off in the shoppes as they we’re getting rid of the last of their overstocked Christmas merchandise.

      Now, it’s expensive, lean, boring, and no deals to make because either you’ve already done all your ROW digital dist deals, or they’ve done their USA dist deals online.

      It was fun while it lasted, and I miss the week in Paris afterwards.

      • Chris H

        Well, from that perspective I get it. From mine, in rights management, it is still a good and important market. And yes, things have gotten leaner and more expensive over the years.

  2. Robbie Fields

    A bit late in the day for these caveats, Paul. It seems a handful of deluded ones are already packed!

    You left out a couple of tidbits :

    Outrageous registration fees and extreme difficulty in working off MIDEM. Almost impossibility if you don’t already know a minimum of a dozen people from different countries to bump into Off Off Midem.

    Unless you’re performing, lousy idea for an artist to go. Really lousy.

    The cheap hotels have largely disappeared in Cannes. Staying in Nice might be the better choice … memorize the train schedule.

    Unless MIDEM is id checking at restaurants (!), Vesuvio is a great choice for the evenings.

    I have decided the most perfect hotel lobby in the world for a schmooze fest is the Hotel Rival in Stockholm. Someone could knock MIDEM right out of the water there!

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Whose xenophobia, exactly? That of the French?

      I’ve been to France about 6 different times, and met a lot of French people in and out of the country. I’m stating the obvious, the difference is that I’m willing to say it out loud.

      • LondonMusicMapp

        Hey Paul it’s not just the French Americans are despised just about everywhere these days it’s just that other countries hide it better than others.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          It’s just not true, and definitely not true to the extent of the French (I’ll leave extremely hostile, anti-American countries like Venezuela, Iraq, and North Korea out of this discussion for now, partly because there’s no way I can enter – or would want to enter – any of those nations by choice.)

          And the rest of the world? I travel quite a bit, and yes, I’ll admit that during the Bush years the hatred level worldwide jumped several notches, but there are lots of countries where I have friends that don’t mind me being American, and, quite frankly, might even like it (yes, there’s still a lot of glitter and magic that emanates from the US, thanks to Hollywood and a lot of other factors).

          Just in the last year and a half, I’ll pick out three countries that I travelled to: South Korea, Austria, and Colombia, all extensively. Frankly, some of the nicest (and interesting) people I’ve ever met in my life have come from these countries, and these are people I’ve spend lots of time with, forged great relationships with, and still communicate with. So, if these people hate me because I’m American, then they’re concocting a really great ruse for reasons that don’t really make much sense to me.

          Personally, I learned a long time ago that I can’t worry or preoccupy myself with some French waiter that’s spitting in my food or sneering at my country. I didn’t tell George Bush to bomb a bunch of countries, I struggle to speak a little French and I’m polite, and not only that, I’m spending my money there and being cool to everyone. Not only that, there are some really great people in France, so I’ll focus on bonding with those people and blot out the rest.

          I’ve got bigger problems, man.

  3. Chris

    What a crock of shit, well maybe apart from Americans being hated in France – don’t take it personally they hate everyone.

    I’ve found since midem got smaller it’s been much better – much less of the bullshit merchants that used to be everywhere.

    And if you think it’s expensive how do you thing anyone from Europe feels when we go stateside? SXSW is a fucking joke with about as much chance of you doing business there as stood in a shopping mall. WMC is a blaggers paradise with most of the business being done as far away from the organised events as possible.

    I’d still say if you are going to do one business conference midem is still by far the best one

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Don’t even get me started on SXSW. But i still think that chaotic party of a ‘conference’ is more relevant and effective than MIDEM.

      • Chris

        It must be a European v American thing as I found SXSW possibly the worst environment to do business in ever. Its a great three / four day gig fest with lots of beer but the business side? Forget it.

        I still do lots of business at midem and as I said above its actually got better as it’s got smaller? Maybe I should pen you some thoughts when I get back next week?

      • Chris English

        I’d love to see the same type of article focused on the SXSW.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          Ask and you shall receive. SXSW is a totally different animal with its own ridiculousness, too bad MIDEM is trying to copy parts of that model!

  4. Danwriter

    “French People Don’t Really Like Americans.”
    Try learning at least a few phrases in the language and toning down the arrogance and ignorance. You’ll find France to be a very nice place. You need to get out of the house more.

    • AB

      Danwriter is so correct. As an American who spends 3-4 months annually in France, they’re actually nice people if you can understand that other countries operate with cultural differences and try to understand those.

      • Paul Resnikoff

        Both of you are partially correct, but not entirely. For example, my mother (and father) have travelled a lot in France, and they get treated really well. Part of the reason is that my mom is a lot more tranquil, soft-spoken, and knows a lot more French. They are both older, mellow, and shy. So it works.

        If I studied more French, would it improve the way I’m treated? Probably. And yes, I’ll be the first to admit that Americans are great at coming across rude and arrogant, some of it has to do with their lack-of-worldliness but the rest is actually attributable to a more direct, straight-ahead American style. I will not deny any of this.

        But what you both are doing is blaming this all on Americans, which is funny because a lot of more travelled, educated Americans often blame themselves entirely when they are getting treated like crap or sneered at for no good reason. They assume the heavy mantle of the George Bush years, they say ‘I can be better, my French stinks, why am I not cultured enough!’

        But deep down, you and I know that this is only part of the issue here. Because no matter how hard an American tries, part of the problem is that, well… see #4 above.

  5. steven corn

    Most of this is true. But I am still sad that I am not going to Midem. It will be the first time in 17 years that I’m not going. Every year, I always make one deal that pays for the trip. I view the conference as a way to see a lot of existing clients (labels and DSP’s) without having to travel all around the world. It’s actually more cost effective than planning business trips to England, Netherlands, Germany, Japan and Australia.

    But mostly, I will miss seeing friends and clients that I only see once per year.

    • An Indie

      we’re going to miss seeing you there too, Steven. wishing you the best.

  6. Max

    A summary of your article may be: one should avoid this exhibition because
    – it doesn’t take place in the USA, so
    – it is far from the US, it takes time to go there, the flights sucks
    – paying in euro, a stronger currency than the US dollar, is expensive,
    – in France the weather sucks, the people suck, the waiters suck,
    – this conference and its attendees are snooty.

    I attended to Namm Show last week in Anaheim, at 40 miles from your town Santa Monica.
    I was happy to fly to the USA, happy to exhibit in the Namm Show, happy to meet musicians and music retailers in Namm Show, happy to go in the hotel in Anaheim, happy to attend to music conferences during Namm Show, happy to hear musicians playing in Anaheim, happy to take taxis and shuttles in Anaheim, and for the few details I found not as satisfying, I understand that cultural differences between my country and yours explains differences of expectations.

    I am French, Paul, and I had expressed on Namm Show even only half of the negative opinion you express on MIDEM, I think you would have said that French People Don’t really Like Americans.

  7. schubert

    Not convinced this review is of any relevance. I may be missing the point but in my view a business conference is not as much about food, flying times and outside temperatures. Out of your twelve points only #12 could be somehow constructive – but even there you’re just asserting things without any form of justification, and just state the obvious (of course you won’t learn about corporate secrets or competitor’s strategic plans). MIDEM, just like any other conference, is equally about content and networking – and you will meet a bunch of European industry leaders, which makes it really special.
    Also, I’m not sure the French bashing is pertinent here. Remember the saying: “it’s only racist if it’s not funny” – and I’m feeling more frustration from past experiences than humor. Come on DMN, we all know you can do better.

  8. An Indie

    I’m going as part of the A2IM group and, respectfully, just haven’t ever seen any of what you describe here, Paul. We get a discounted registration rate, our pavilion is packed with potential business partners, drink for free at their nightly happy hours and then get reasonably priced meals (not McDonalds, haha) and drinks at The Quey or Morrisons. I think all in I’ll spend about $3000 and like Steven Corn says above, if I get one new deal it more than covers my trip but even without a new deal I meet my existing partners and as helpful as email and Skype are there’s nothing like a face to face meeting. From strictly a business perspective, I find spending $3000 and a weekend away from home for Midem a much better (business) investment than spending nearly that much for a badge, flight & hotel in Austin for SXSW.

    As for the French, I’m familiar with the stereotype that they hate Americans but I’m either oblivious to it or it just hasn’t happened to me. I find a mixed bag of people in Cannes that isn’t dissimilar from what I find almost anywhere.

  9. JR

    `Midem sucks, but not for the majority of the reasons listed. The French riviera is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and the space where they hold Midem is the same as the one they hold countless other exhibitions like the Cannes Film Festival. The infrastructure works. As far as expense, try getting a room in Austin for SxSW or in Miami for Winter Music Conf. The rates are ALL jacked up. The food is great and no more expensive than any major city.

    Why does Midem suck? it is not the French, Cannes or the food, it is the organizers who keep parading the same tired crew of out of touch “experts” who run useless panels and say the same shit every year and keep trying to sell you on a new technology that will change music. I go because I also attend the NRJ music awards and get in free. I don’t even bother now.

    SXSW is also useless as are all the Billboard events. What the business needs is a place where those of us who are on the front lines, can meet each other and work things out. To do this effectively requires something other than a re purposed hallway turned into a “networking lounge”. Want to see how it is done, look at the billionaire networking events, the Political action committee meetings. The music conferences are all exploitative. It is sad and so typical of the music “business” today. I hope they all go out of business and maybe someone will create a program that allows for real networking and solution creation, after all we are on the front line and the generals are dead.

  10. JTVDigital

    Paul, I’m sorry but this is a very US-centric view…

    Let me share my French-centric thoughts of why musicians / labels / music companies should attend MIDEM:

    There are various fees available, whether you are an artist, a publisher, a start-up or a bigger company.

    Songwriters registered with SACEM get a discount, as well as Publishers.

    For French and European companies / labels / artists, this is a unique opportunity to meet and network with their North American counterparts, without having to travel overseas and spend days in flights.

    For a few hundred €, you can meet or hear most representatives of the worldwide music industry. Not that bad.

    Then yes, transportation to access Cannes sucks, it takes ages to go there, Nice airport is not convenient and the train can be difficult too…
    The easiest way to go for Americans is probably to land in Paris, take the high-speed train (TGV) from Paris to Marseille, then rent a car and drive up to Cannes, it’s not that far.

    You do not need to stay in expensive hotels in the city centre, if you have a car you can stay outside Cannes, for a much cheaper price.

    Then ok it’s cold, it is Winter in France…but I prefer Winter in Cannes than in Finland…

    The service sucks, yes probably, just like everywhere else in France, waiters are unpleasant generally, just like taxi drivers. That’s the way it is, you’ll get used to it 🙂

    At MIDEM there are a lot of semi-private sessions / meetings people can attend, yes it requires some upstream preparation, and some are only for artists who’ve been previously selected to meet a panel, for example. But believe me or not, it exists, some get selected and are happy to meet all big heads at the same place, again without the need to travel all over the world.

    For European and French music companies, this is the time of the year for networking, finally meeting people you may only know through emails or phone calls, establish new connections and business opportunities.

    This is why I go there, my agenda is full of exciting meetings with people I’d never imagine to connect with so easily…

    I am just crossing fingers I will survive the Winter, the waiters and the transportation problems 🙂


  11. Cannes or Bust

    With all due respect, you might be a few years behind the loop. If you play your cards right (go through one of the “pavilions”, book in time), you can get in for about €500 or under (far less if you qualify as an artist or student).

    Only the most naive wannabes pay €12 for a beer (sidenote, does Kronenbourg actually count as a beer?). They are the ones that go to the 5-star hotels and Instragram photos of their receipts with “OMG. €12 for a friggin’ beer!”. Come on, ‘fess up you lot! You know who you are. All you have to do is set appointments at the local bars near the station (some of whom do decent meals as well).

    I regularly find hotels or the hybrid “apart-hotels” at under €50 a night. The absolute record was €35 a night and it slept three. It was 10 minutes by bus from the centre and the ticket cost €1. The downside: you have to do proper research. In fact, many of your points come down to that. Try this 5 money-saving tips at Midem.

    As for the French not liking Americans, is this why they gobble up every movie and singer out there? What is true is that Cannes is full of attitude, and it’s not only Americans that are subject to it.

    The graph about attendance is misleading, as in the same time-span the music biz globally has lost 50% in revenue. From having been there in the heydays, I can say it’s easier to meet people now as all the assistants and trainees are left at home; now you deal with the guy that can take a decision but you have to spend time beforehand booking appointments (other sidenote, the Japanese publishers in particular are making huge efforts to reach out to people these days). Also, placing mini conferences right in the exhibition hall creates a very concentrated environment where you inevitably end up talking to people – and this is the start of all business.

    If you’re going to stay away, do so for the right reasons at least!

    • Paul Resnikoff

      “The absolute record was €35 a night and it slept three. It was 10 minutes by bus from the centre and the ticket cost €1.”

      You’re sorting of proving my point here. What you’re describing is a complicated, time-consuming effort to live on the outskirts of a wildly-overpriced locale, and somehow tell yourself it all makes sense. It typically doesn’t make sense, sorry.

      And please don’t kid yourself: if you are seriously doing business, you are definitely going to traverse a range of difference spots, which includes everything from the Palais to Morrison’s to the Carlton to the Martinez. Sorry, when a deal’s happening or you’re in serious conversation at one of the latter places, you’re going to get charged with a 12 euro ‘1664’.

      So, you can resolutely decide to only take meetings at dives, pack a ham sandwich that you assembled by going to the grocery store (good luck with that fridge in that 35 euro hostel (er, I mean ‘hotel’)), and pack a backpack of essentials every morning as you won’t be able to get back to your place until late at night.

      Now that sounds fun! And… effective! Congrats, you figured this conference out.

      • Chris

        “You’re sorting of proving my point here. What you’re describing is a complicated, time-consuming effort to live on the outskirts of a wildly-overpriced locale, and somehow tell yourself it all makes sense. It typically doesn’t make sense, sorry”

        With respect Paul I had the same experience with SXSW – I had to pay $60 for four days of a shuttle bus that took me the 30 minute ride to Austin. And I got fleeced at one of the expensive hotels there for beer.

  12. Jay

    Some of this is hilariously on point…some isn’t.

    I’m not a serious professional because I give up my weekend to go to Midem?

    My free bus tickets just arrived

    Try learning a bit of the lingo and being less ethnocentric in your dealings with people…the French, like most people but even more so the French, aren’t going to become American overnight to appease you.

    Lyor Cohen isn’t a big name speaker?

    For me attendances are down but the quality is up, fewer timewasters.

    The weather? It’s about 5 degrees in London right now…14 degrees is practically summer, you don’t need to come from the Arctic circle to appreciate that. Anyway, do serious professionals care about the weather?

    I do think ReedMidem need to take a long hard look at the value of what they provide. I’ve just been offered an upgrade to my account for 295 Euros which would allow me to see a list of who has emailed me, wowee.

  13. Simon Penn

    I disagree. My flights from London booked only yesterday cost £50 each way, my bus from the airport to Cannes booked & paid in advance cost euro30 return and my hotel including breakfast & wifi (5 minute walk to the action) is only euro89 per night. A few drinks & a bite to eat the 2 day one night trip should come in at around £300-350. In terms of ROI, the meetings in place and no doubt a few new contacts to follow up on will be well worth it.

  14. JTVDigital

    Back from Midem…
    The overall experience was quite positive, interesting connections…etc.
    The main weakpoint being the absence of a decent party 🙂

    • Chris

      You obviously didn’t get the right invites then 😉

      Seriously though midem was again great – slightly down (by a couple of hundred) in attendees but the national pavilions (especially the UK and US ones) were buzzing all weekend. I just did my expenses and spend £250 over 5 days – certainly no 12 Euro beers in my experience.