LSM Newswire

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Language Changes at Midem 2010 Take South Africa by Storm

Cannes, January 27th 2010 – Delegates attending the 44th edition of MIDEM (January 23-27) in Cannes, France, were starting to speak a new language. And it wasn’t French.

Buzz words among the 7,200 participants from 78 countries who gathered on the Côte d’Azur this week, included “viral, apps, stickiness, playlists, monetize and engagement.” The changing vocabulary was in line with an evolution in MIDEM participation. Of the 3,200 companies represented, 28% attended for the first time, with the majority operating in the digital sector.

Over in the concert venues, industry executives enthused about the 50-strong line-up of artists from the Country of Honour, South Africa, who set the Opening Night Party alight and brought unprecedented calls for “more” during a gala dinner tribute to Miriam Makeba January 25.

Meanwhile on the MIDEM exhibition floor, business was reported to be ‘brisk’ as delegates savoured a series of new show initiatives such as MidemNet Lab and MidemNet Academy, designed to fast-track understanding and networking opportunities in the digital sector and facilitate deal-making between labels.

MIDEM 2010 INNOVATES

“We have introduced a lot of new ideas this year and the response has been very positive,” commented MIDEM Director Dominique Leguern. “We launched MIDEM+ which offers business consulting, contact recommendations and targeted networking opportunities and, of course, we have expanded MidemNet to run throughout MIDEM and made it available to all delegates at no extra cost.

“For managers we have opened the MIDEM Managers’ Village, hosted by the International Music Managers’ Forum, which will bring managers together and includes conferences dedicated to their activity. And we have brought 15 start-up companies who are at the cutting-edge of digital initiatives to present themselves at the new MidemNet Lab and the MidemNet Academy, which is an educational platform for discussion about developments in digital, has proved very popular,” added Leguern.

GoMix, the interactive music platform which allows users to remix songs from major artists and share the results on the likes of Facebook and MySpace, was one of the 15 selected companies to present themselves at MidemNet Lab. “We launched GoMix in 2009 and have 125,000 mixers,” said company Founder and CEO Olly Barnes. “In 2010 we’ll be adding 50 songs per month and introducing a pay model for remixing, with a revenue split between the label and ourselves. As a networking event, MIDEM is second to none.”

CHANGING INDUSTRY INSPIRES CHANGING VOCABULARY

One of the most striking developments at MIDEM 2010 was a change in the language being used. The new vocabulary reflects a growing awareness among the music industry that connecting with fans via the multitude of web-based or mobile applications now available, is critical to the business, particularly the viral marketing and sales opportunities offered by social media.

Speaking during a MidemNet digital conference devoted to apps (the downloadable applications that have turned handsets into mobile ‘storefronts’) and music, Ted Mico, EVP Digital, Interscope, Geffen, A&M, noted that artists who feel comfortable in the digital age have no problem engaging with fans using multiple platforms. The message from MIDEM was clearly that in the digital age, a loyal and virally-empowered fan base can be an artist’s best friend. “The stickiest web sites are the fan-based web sites. Those (artists) who can and do connect with their fans will benefit,” Jonathan Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Getty Images, told delegates at a MIDEM conference. Drawing on his experience of managing the 80 million images in the Getty digital library, Klein urged music executives not to be defensive in the face of technology. “The lesson for the music industry is don’t stand in the way of technology…don’t stand in the way of what customers want.”

Music-related apps carried on the likes of the iPhone or Android platforms are rapidly developing fan bases and revenues, with Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher revealing at MIDEM that users of the company’s mobile apps are currently buying more than 300,000 tracks a day. Interscope is already an active player in developing iPhone apps and is working alongside Tapulous to develop a new game called ‘Riddim Ribbon,’ featuring music from the Black Eyed Peas. Interscope’s Ted Mico told MIDEM delegates that work continues on an upcoming and “ambitious” iPhone app for Dr Dre, which will be available in around four months.

BRANDS AND ADVERTISING DEVELOP MUSIC RELATIONS

It’s not so long ago that artists, brands and the advertising community eyed each other with incomprehension or suspicion. Not any more. During his MidemNet keynote address this week, David Jones, global CEO at Havas Worldwide and global CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide, cited the example of bringing together Dan the Automator’s remix of ‘Rappers Delight,’ with Evian and YouTube.

The Evian ad, featuring roller-skating babies and the remix, has been viewed over 95 million times on YouTube, according to David Jones, who estimated that a traditional television campaign would have cost between 100 and 200 times more to reach an equivalent audience.

And in a sign of the shifting times, Hip-hop star, producer and frontman for N.E.R.D, Pharrell Williams, attending MIDEM for the first time, described how he would break into the business if he was starting out today. Williams said he would build his website featuring his music and as a vehicle for engaging with fans, “then I’d probably assemble a team of kids and bug the hell out of the advertising agencies to use my music.”

The MidemNet and MIDEM 2010 conference programme drew packed crowds as Spotify CEO Daniel Ek shared a double-header keynote with YouTube Director of Video Partnerships for EMEA, Patrick Walker and MySpace CEO, Owen van Natta made his first keynote outside the United States since taking the helm of MySpace nine months ago.

Van Natta announced a ground-breaking deal with performance rights group SoundExchange to identify and contact some 25,000 artists who are owed money for streaming of music on the internet and satellite radio. The MySpace CEO said that $14 million of unclaimed royalties had been put in escrow by SoundExchange and that MySpace would seek to identify the artists.

Meanwhile Spotify CEO Daniel Ek reported that the company now has 250,000 paying subscribers from its seven million users and 100 million user-created playlists. MySpace’s Owen van Natta noted that his company is hosting 180 million user playlists.

SOUTH AFRICA WINS HEARTS AND FANS AS COUNTRY OF HONOUR

In the run-up to MIDEM and in the year when it will host the FIFA World Cup Finals, South Africa’s presence in Cannes was hotly anticipated. And the MIDEM 2010 Country of Honour didn’t disappoint.

A delegation of over 30 companies and 50 artists, headed by Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Lulu Xingwana and Department of Arts and Culture Director General Themba Wakashe, arrived in Cannes determined to use the global exposure of the World Cup Finals to promote South African and African culture, including music.

Lulu Xingwana held talks with her French counterpart, Minister of Culture and Communication Frédéric Mitterrand, during which the pair discussed current bilateral cultural cooperation and agreed to sign a Programme of Cultural Cooperation for 2010 to 2012, as well as a new film co-production agreement.

Referring to South Africa’s high-level presence at MIDEM, the South African Minister said that South Africa’s participation created opportunities for the country’s artists to showcase their talent, to mingle with their peers, and for music business deals to be done, creating jobs and access to markets for South African artists.

MIDEM attendees were spoiled for musical choice at the Opening Showcase Party of South African talent, which included The Parlotones, MC Mangaliso Ngema, Tidal Waves, Zuluboy, the Maletangwao Cultural Troupe, Wouter Kellerman, Kurt Darren and Nothembi Mkhwebane.

And the musical atmosphere went from great to greater at the January 25 gala dinner tribute to Miriam Makeba. Under the musical direction of Themba Mkhize and featuring Thandiswa Mazwai, Vusi Mahlasela and Makeba’s close friend, Angelique Kidjo, guests were treated to a rousing set of Makeba hits, including ‘Pata Pata.’ In unprecedented scenes, diners left their seats to dance to an impromptu encore, uniting all the artists and bringing jazz singer Letta Mbulu and composer Caiphus Semenya on stage for a memorable rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight.’

“We have made a significant effort to boost ‘live’ music this year and the South African contribution has been outstanding,” said MIDEM Director Dominique Leguern. “Technology develops, but artists remain artists and the central core of the industry and what we do in Cannes. Part of our role is to promote new talent via our MIDEM Talent and MIDEM Talent Jazz concerts and by welcoming events like the highly popular British at MIDEM Showcase concerts.”

NEW TALENT RELISHES MIDEM CHALLENGE

Among the artists to cause a stir in the MIDEM Talent line-up, British-born singer, songwriter, composer and producer Wayne Beckford was particularly upbeat about his MIDEM appearance on stage, with his debut solo album, ‘Change’ set for release in France April 19.

Beckford says MIDEM and MIDEM Talent gave him the opportunity to “link with different cultures and discover different ways to get my music out there. My main objective was to make a connection, with labels, fans and fellow artists.”

“What was amazing was that as soon as Wayne’s name and biography appeared on the MIDEM web site as part of MIDEM Talent, we started getting attention from around the world and deals began falling into place even before he performed in Cannes,” added manager and business partner George Betoka. Beckford admits to feeling nervous on his way to MIDEM. “When you’re performing to the industry, you want it to go well. Luckily it did and we’ll definitely be back here next year.”

Beckford says his MIDEM 2011 plans include the official launch of the BBBox, a new interactive signage system to be available on touch-screen terminals, combining a digital video display that is capable of screening artists’ songs, with interactive promotional and purchasing capabilities. The BBBox, is being developed by Beckford’s and Betoka’s Borderblaster International company and Bertelsmann’s Arvato Digital Services. “You need to imagine a touch terminal outside a concert. People go to the concert, they like the artists they hear and they order the CD or download the album or tracks via the terminal,” said Betoka. “The more artists and labels who put content into the BBBox, the more attractive it is for fans and the more revenue will be generated.”

Like Wayne Beckford, Icelandic singer Hafdis Huld made her MIDEM Talent debut in Cannes this year, accompanied by manager Kerry Harvey-Piper, who was attending her first MIDEM. “I came here with hopes rather than expectations. I really wanted to play to people who would license the album in new territories and the response has been very positive,” enthused Huld.

The album in question is ‘Synchronised Swimmers,’ released in Iceland in October 2009 and in a limited edition to international fans via Huld’s web site.

For manager Harvey-Piper, who is CEO of the UK-based Red Grape indie label, the MIDEM Talent appearance was a major bonus. “I came to MIDEM with the objective of getting licensing deals in Scandinavia, Benelux, France, Germany, Japan and Canada. By the end of the event, I will have had meetings with all these territories and a few I didn’t expect. Playing to an international, industry audience is like gold dust and you never give it up.”

Down on the tradeshow floor, the national pavilions were reporting steady business. “We have seen concrete deals signed here at MIDEM, which, in the current economic context, underlines the importance of the event,” commented Paulina Ahokas, Director of Music Export Finland. Among those deals, Rockadillo Records/Zen Master Publishing sold their entire catalogue to the Chinese market.

The newly-branded Sounds Australia Pavilion, brought some 30 companies together at MIDEM. “We had a cohesive approach to promoting the Australian industry and it has paid off,” reported Sounds Australia’s Export Music Producer Millie Millgate. “The feedback from the companies in Cannes is that our industry and our government are taking music export seriously and this is reflected by what’s happened at MIDEM.”

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