I just got back from Midem 2011 and will post some very informative presentations in the coming days. While there were no game changing announcements, music in the cloud - streaming, lockers, mobile - was on everyone's lips. It's clearly what fans want and the assembled companies appeared intent on giving it to them. Sadly, however, the debate still continues over how to make more money from the cloud. If I could send a single message to the music industry, it would be:
Stop talking and start licensing.
No one knows where the best or most profitable ideas will come from. So rightsholders need to stop debating and start experimenting. Make simple affordable deals with as many startups as possible. If you're still afraid, keep the term of the deals short.
It's this simple: when the music industry doesn't licence music to new services, it encourages fans to find their own solutions which often return no revenue to artists, labels and publishers.
Music Tech & The Front Line
Encouragingly, music tech played a more central roll at Midem 2011. Along with the first Midem Music Hack Day, more startups had a presence and showcased some exciting products. The MidenNet and MidemNet Lab sessions were also very well attended.
The music tech crowd, along with a growing cadre of forward thinking managers and indie labels, represented the front line of the new music industry. They aren't waiting for the next big thing. They're busy using the tools that exist, and creating new ones - all in the service of music and the artists that make it. It was exciting and hopeful to see them meet and explore ways to work together.
Control & Conclusions
Sadly, much of the music industry's old guard is still talking about control. Laws and technologies designed to curb piracy are still a top priority for some, as is how to turn the stream of pennies coming from digital back into the piles dollars they became dependent on.
There were two Midem's happening simoultanously this year. Sometimes the new and old music industry met. But more often, they did not.