March 11, 2010

MIDEM 2010 Round-up


January saw a "highly productive and optimistic" MIDEM 2010 conference take place in Cannes. The event had kicked off with the "New Models At Work" panel session, with Amanda Palmer speaking about her 2009 self-funded solo album, and her online community of fans. Hal Ritson from The Young Punx added that artists need to "get some emotional contact with [the people listening to their music]" and that music bloggers giving away free downloads should be viewed as the modern equivalent of radio promo. Starting with an inspirational DIY discussion is great, but I'm sure people were looking for other ways to get involved, as each artist's strategy will be completely different.

Luckily, there was a diverse set of panelists and topics; with video games and mobile device apps being two major industries in the future of music, as well as possible revenue streams for artists, I am glad to see that those topics were of great importance, and even had specific discussion panels (see below). One of the quotes from the 'Apps' panel became the most retweeted live posts of the conference... the news that "Shazam #App is selling 300,000 songs a DAY via iTunes".


One headline interview was with Owen Van Natta, CEO of MySpace. Since last year, Van Natta is the guy charged with trying to overhaul Myspace functions and entice the millions of online users that have abandoned the website in recent times in lieu of Facebook and other social networking services. Whilst establishing that Myspace and Myspace music are different services, Van Nattan claimed MySpace Music was the largest ad-supported music service on the web, and maximising music, merchandise and ticket sales are all ways that they boost their revenue. And Regarding Myspace? "We believe that the future of content distribution is going to be through people, not portals [...] We think that gives us a platform to build a content distribution platform." Which he said will be a hugely valuable asset to a large media corporation like News Corp (owners of Myspace).

midem 2010 guitar

Another highlight of MIDEM 2010 was Youtube and Spotify representatives on stage together discussing ad-supported streaming. While Youtube seem to think a profitable model (currently "monetising over a billion videos per week") is within their grasp, Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek said that he "doesn't really differentiate on the ad-supported versus the premium model", and that the mobile factor is a huge influence in conversion rates for them. (Ek failed to comment on a timeline for Spotify's much anticipated US launch).

Pharrell Williams, artist and producer of Neptunes, N*E*R*D* and solo fame, also gave an interview on Day 1. Regarding illegal downloading, he said that "People have so many options and choices, we should allow them to taste-test, to decide if that’s something they wanna be involved with". With all the crack-downs by major labels on Youtube / Muxtape and the like, this could be seen as either a brave or stupid thing for an elite artist to say, even if they do believe it to be true. To encourage this whilst still trying to maintain some kind of control of copyright, an artist (and/or label) must make it easy and convenient for consumers to "taste-test" before they buy. They must also create a convenient supply chain for those wanting to make the purchase.

midem showcase

Yes, MIDEM really does lead the way in Music Industry events. There were far too many great quotes and topics to review in one post, so here is my list for further reading:

Mobile Apps and Music panel
Music and Games panel
Soundcloud Teams up with Hypemachine
Labels and Digital Services panel (with Spotify, we7, The Orchard, WMG, Sony and Beggars)
Gerd Leonhard's 'The New Generatives' presentation (Selling Music in a Connected World)

I also encourage you to watch some of the live videos at the MIDEM Website

Lee Jarvis.

(Originally posted at UK Music Jobs' music industry blog)

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