MIDEM – 2010

 |  January 28, 2010
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What’s up everybody?  Sorry I missed out on my weekly album sales and industry news post, but I just got finished with this year’s MIDEM music business conference in Cannes.  It was an interesting experience to say the least, so I think I’ll do my best to give a quick little summary.  For the last 4 days, the little resort/tourist/upper-east-side-on-the-beach-in-France town of Cannes has been bombarded with music industry vets and start-ups from all over the world.

From watching the Vikings, Saints, Jets and Colts with top digital execs from Warner, Microsoft and Amazon, record label execs of all shapes, sizes, colors and dispositions, indie retail chains, artists and a couple of irish bartenders, to paying 20 euro for 1 jack & coke in the lobby of the Carleton Hotel (where the millionaires hang), to sharing top-notch wine and seafood with international distributors, to meeting tech moguls, internet-savvy businessmen, L.A.-based licensing guys, artists, visionary thinkers, and young people just making their mark on the game, all while comfortably drinking at least 10 beers a night, and never going to sleep before 5:00 AM, Midem is a fantastic place to network.  More to the point, it’s an in.  You meet people, you share experiences (not all of which people would want to see written here), you enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle, and you discuss the past, present and future of this whorehouse of an industry we call music.

First of all, let’s just say this: for an industry that is struggling so hardcore at the bottom level (I’m talking starving artists, laid-off employees, small-to-no advance record deals etc), some on the top level are still caking.  Someone, and in fact, a lot of someones, either still have money, or are still figuring out ways to make money off of this business.  Obviously, it’s not all coming from the sale of plastic discs anymore, but this business is not over.  Millions upon millions of dollars from the world over were dumped on this little French town, in the form of fendi, fur, foie gras, and outrageously priced drinks.  (Full-disclosure: after buying a drink for 20 euro, and let’s be honest, even without getting worked over on the exchange rate, 20 bucks for a drink is off-the-wall, I had to go and snag a bottle and bring it into the swanky hotel-lobby under my jacket, ’cause that’s how I do).

However, despite the high-level of some players, this year’s attendance was way down, and even among those who made it to the conference, the number of people who purchased badges, and went about things in the traditional way was much lower than in years past.  Rumors are flying that the conference is going to be moved to the summertime in Paris, to make it more accessible to more people.

Regardless, I saw an entire international industry, connected.  We sell culture, in one form or another, and people are going to continue to consume culture, in one form or another, for generations to come.  Just yesterday, Apple announced the iPad (which surprisingly wasn’t really being discussed all that much at Midem), which has the potential to revolutionize the paid-content culture model.  There is a future in this business, and it’s not going to come from the old guard.  It’s going to be the young artists (like folk-singer Susie Suh who was over there meeting and chopping it up with an impressively broad list of new and old media thinkers), startup companies (like Grooveshark) that have put their passion to work and have helped to create a new model for music consumption, or even Microsoft (yes, that old dinosaur) who are working on turning the xBox, and by extension, the TV into the household center for media consumption, that will be leading the charge, and frankly, in my book, already are.

I’m excited not only to have gone, not only to already be making plans to go back, but to actually connect, and build on the contacts made during this event.  As I said, this thing is an in.  International music industry cats don’t have a golf-course they go to.  There’s no Cigar and Brandy bar that we all chill at after work, and sit around and laugh about how ineffectual the “help” is.  But we do have Midem, and some event in Austin I’ve heard about before.

Quick “Top” list:

Best Bar: Sun7

Best Hotel (if you’re not paying): Carleton

Best Hotel (if you are paying): rent an apartment

Best Event: Hypebot/TopSpin/Hello Music Meetup @ Morrison’s

Best Baller Dish: Tie: Oysters / Lobsters