One upon a time, Midem was the quintessential music industry conference.
A place where the globe’s top-tier executives would quaff champagne on a luxury yacht while securing big bucks business deals. And think nothing of it.
However, with the global music business losing half its revenues over the past 15 years, mega-pricey rounds at The Carlton are a luxury most can no longer afford. Or, at least, afford without breaking a sweat.
Since 2005, the number of people attending Midem has dramatically shrunk from a peak of over 9,000 delegates to 4,400 in 2016.
Every year there’s rumours it’s the expo’s last ever edition – as those working in the industry wonder how Midem’s owner, Reed Midem, can maintain the event’s financial sustainability.
Its previous boss, Bruno Crolot, put the decline in attendance in part to industry executives attending to hold meetings in the area without buying a conference ticket.
Alexandre Deniot was named his successor in January after spending 15 years at Universal – most recently as Business Development Director for UMG’s Paris-based digital division.
He tells us that Midem’s delegate number is slightly up this year, and that Sony, Warner, Universal and the top indie labels – plus streaming services, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon and Napster – are all here in Cannes.
In addition, the third edition of the Midem Artist Accelerator Programme welcomed 600 submissions from 67 countries in 2017.
Deniot has spent the past few months travelling over the world to talk to people and find out what they want from Midem.
He reports some good feedback about the quality of networking, people and conference discussions that the event provides.
“I truly believe that Midem is useful for the industry. We are here to serve and support the growth of the music business and the companies that work within it.”
alexandre deniot, midem
“I truly believe that Midem is useful for the industry,” Deniot explains. “We are here to serve and support the growth of the music business and the companies that work within it.”
So how is he going to improve the brand perception, its inclusiveness and get those delegate numbers rising in line with the music industry’s return to growth?
Is it possible to do that in today’s globally connected music business when meetings can be done via Skype, and the younger generation’s expense budgets lean more towards Prosecco than they do Moet?
Here we chat to Deniot to find out what his strategy is for Midem this year and beyond.
How are you going to keep Midem going in future? Despite the small rise in numbers this year, attendance has been declining for years.
We need to make sure that we provide the right services that are relative to the needs of different companies and segments.
The music industry is much bigger than the record labels and we want to include live, radio, brands and audio visual.
This year we previewed an exclusive trailer of Tupac Shakur movie All Eyez On Me at the International Midem Awards; it’s the beginning of the future.
“Next year we’ll have a proper segment for audio visual with dedicated conference topics, world premieres and screenings.”
Next year we’ll have a proper segment for audio visual with dedicated conference topics, world premieres and screenings. We want to bring every series or movie that is related to music to Midem to attract new type of attendees, like producers and writers.
We are also going to develop the concerts and the B2C activity. Last year we had one stage, this year we have two with more concerts on the beach.
Next year the big focus will be on Africa because emerging markets are very important to us and are an area of growth for the music industry. We want to help structure what can be very complex markets by bringing the key players to Midem.
Your 50th edition last year was criticised for a lack of women on panel discussions, and the event has historically been seen as an ‘old boys club’. How are you going to solve that?
We have some incredible conferences this year and most of the people on the panels are from the new generation.
The bands that we have through our Midem Artist Accelerator programme are young and new, and the international ones we are welcoming include Daddy Yankee, Wyclef Jean and Mark Hoppus. These people are not old.
Now women make up 20% of panellists on the conference programme and we’re holding a special event for women in music for them to talk about issues, and how to improve [gender diversity in the business].
How are you going to get that 20% closer to 50% in future?
We’re going to work with the women in music programme to make women more comfortable with public speaking, and make sure we increase the number of women on panels every year.
How are you going to bring the younger generation to Midem who see Cannes as being expensive?
Maybe it’s more that people have the feeling that it’s expensive – but it can be very cheap. We have special prices for startups and young artists.
If you’re talking about the city of Cannes, if you book accommodation in advance prices start at €30 per night. Flying and getting the train from Europe, especially in June, isn’t that expensive either.
The more you book in advance the cheaper it’s going to be.
Is it true that you have a deal that locks you in to have the event at the expensive palais des festivals every year?
We are here at the Palais because I think it’s a great place. The venue is incredible and the history behind it is wonderful.
Cannes is also a great place for all the music attendees.
I was in the US in March and people were saying, We’re going to Cannes because we love it.
“If you look at people here they are smiling, they are very happy to be here. For me, there is no issue about Midem being here in Cannes.”
If you look at people here they are smiling, they are very happy to be here.
For me, there is no issue about Midem being here in Cannes.
But do you have that deal where you’re locked in?
It’s not about the deal, I don’t really care if there’s a deal or not.
I think Cannes is a great place to have Midem right now for the international community.
Would you consider moving in future?
Maybe we will develop other Midems around the world that are more focused on territories.
Why are conferences like Midem relevant for the music industry in today’s business when people from all over the world can so easily interact online?
We are the leading international music event for the industry. More than 80 countries are coming to Midem and we are perhaps the only event focused on the music business.
We are different from the other events which are more like a festival with a little bit of business. Here it’s four days of full conferences and the key players are here, that is the main difference.
It’s very useful for those people to meet, face to face is way better than a call or a Skype meeting and everybody knows that.
A lot of stories have started at Midem.
Music Business Worldwide