Midem 2014 – My student experience

Midem is the number one event in Europe for music business people to come together and bring what they can offer to the industry. It is set-up on the beautiful French Riviera where one can gaze at some 50 feet yachts for the entire day while enjoying delightfully expensive, although very ordinary coffee. All sarcasm set aside, I had a delightful extended weekend away from the crunch of studying, in the unexampled company of my good friends and classmates.

 

– Resume reprobative hair-splitting – 

As exciting as it was to attend talks from legendary executives (i.e. : Lyor Cohen), one could easily get discouraged by the general stagnating state of the industry. To clarify, it felt like all the talks and panelists where saying a lot to not really say much in the end, the general consensus always reverted to the point that it was all about the music to start with – so why on earth did this ever change?!

With all due respect to the brilliant executives that they are, with the illustrious career paths and resumes to back it up, this is a no-brainer type of statement. The only reason why it ever changed is because they thought they could get away with turning music into a factory product. And when faced with the occasional narrow (cornering) questions from the audience, a general discomfort and awkward moments of staring at each other would take-over amongst the panelists.
I’m not trying to rant, or be disrespectful even, but it felt very much like the general topic was always to try and save the music industry with revolutionary innovative ideas that will ‘change the game’, but no one tries to take that leap of faith that could potentially instigate this change.

But we’re talking about the people who thought that digital would just be a phase, so I don’t really expect anything other than a certain level of comfort and reluctance to change radically. So they just take their time and literally take over a decade to start shining a light on the right path to adopt. If it weren’t for music business gurus by the likes of future music business leader and key growing player Benji Rogers of Pledgemusic, I would say we would be better off throwing-in the towel.

And then I got the chance to meet some interesting people. The good people from Sounds Australia really showed their independent spirit and threw an Aussie BBQ party with three stunning performances from Jeff Lang (amazing guitarist who uses effects like a modern Hendrix with an acoustic guitar), talented singer/songwriter Sherill Morris, and the harmony-infused amazing Mae Trio that gave me goosebumps all throughout this lovely Monday lunch. We also shared a few laughs and drinks during and after the conference. I also met this year’s winners of the MidemLab competition – Midem’s startup and app developer competition – NaGual Sounds on the night before the laureates had been announced. We had a good time at a Carlton hotel party, exchanged contacts and learned all about the software they had been developing, needless to say I was really happy to see these guys win the next day.

If I were to pick two quotes from the weekend, I’d have to go with Rita Ora, who despite her incredibly good looks kind of ruined it when she expressed her deepest sentiments for the Vevo Lift campaign she was ‘blessed’ be a part of – ‘I love how the internet and the media is completely controlling what we do’…
And in second place comes Lyor Cohen, who is venturing into setting-up an independent label backed with a partnership with Google – let’s not even go there – with a statement that is beautifully raw and full of integrity to the challenging role that is that of a businessman in the music industry – ‘when you f*** with good […] you miss the opportunity of capturing and maybe being a part of magnificent’ and later concluded with ‘sign stars, don’t dust-bums-off’.

I really didn’t expect to walk out of Midem with an internship sealed, or even a job because frankly very few companies that were there put-up an appealing front. I went in not expecting much, came out with a lot more than what I was hoping, and a lot less money on my bank account. It was more of a networking workshop/experience that has taught me a lot about people as professionals who enjoy playing the game, as well as colleagues as ardent white-collars, some of whom will do pretty much anything to be able to play the game.

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