Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. – Orison Swett Marden
Going into MIDEM my focus was to network with as many people as possible in the hopes of developing some job opportunities come July. No one was going to come up to me and say, “Hey there, would you like a job?” the only way I was going to take anything out of MIDEM was to network, and network I did. Though my random conversations at the conference , The Carlton and Morrison’s proved to be quite entertaining it was the meetings I arranged before hand that turned out to be the focal points of my entire trip and gave me the most insight about the industry. After about 20 e-mails sent and a couple of replies, I arranged 4 meetings and one volunteer opportunity.
My first meeting was with Toomas Olljum an Estonian artist manager who works with some of Estonia’s biggest musicians female vocalist Iiris and the alternative band Ewert and the Two Dragons. We spent close to an hour talking about all his different avenues of work including being a consultant for a Nordic Region festival called Tallin Music Week and starting his own management company. Toomas shared his story about how got into the industry and highlighted a lot of experiences that gave me insight on how to be a successful artist manager. One of the most important things he said was to “rarely say no to an opportunity” he delved into the importance on how every opportunity and every experience can be useful especially in the music industry. So when he emailed to me to offer me the chance to work on some projects in Estonia for Tallin Music Week my immediate answer was yes.
My second meeting was with Alastair Burns from HeartStop Music in Australia. Lets just say this meeting didn’t go as well as the others. To be short and to the point the meeting fell through because I could´t find him during the Aussie BBQ. Some takeaways for successful networking I learned from this encounter are; 1) Research/google the person you are meeting because their google picture might not be an accurate representation of what they look like in the present 2) Set up a meeting in a space that is less crowded. All hope was not lost though as I received a very detailed e-mail from Alastair giving me a lot of good advice and insight about the music industry in Australia.
My third meeting was with Scott Cohen one of the founders of The Orchard a “pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets”. This meeting out of all 4 was probably the most helpful and insightful in regards to my culminating experience project. Scott was really interested in the band I was managing and was very insightful on how to develop the bands social media engagement.
My final meeting was with 141a Management “a music management company representing artists from all music genres. They are one of the few companies who still believe in the old method of developing artists and not manufacturing them”. This meeting came about rather randomly, I tried to just walk into the British Music area to meet some of the London based companies and labels but that didn’t end up so well. So once again I was left with an e-mails as my main avenue to network, but hey why not it worked before. I contacted 4 labels and didn’t hear back from any until my last night at MIDEM. I got a message from the assistant manager saying if I was still interested to meet her at the British Music lounge at 6. I sat down at the table with 2 other people sitting down and they turned out to be the CEO of the company and another manager, before I knew it this meeting turned into a type of interview. I expressed my interest in artist development and how I admire the fact that their company focuses on developing their artists and works hard to ensure their success rather than trying manufacturing it. They continued to ask more questions and finally ended the meeting asking me if I was interested in a job and that if I was to send my resume in to their office so they can work out an offer.
To be honest, I did not expect any of this when I got on that 15 hour bus ride to Canne. I knew I was going to spend most of time trying to meet people rather than attending the various workshops and speeches. A lot of the people I met at random during the conference expressed confusion on why a graduate student would be attending the conference and at the time my only answer was to network but I think I got more out of it than that. I got to talk to industry professionals and get an insight on the way the industry is working at the moment, and yes I know that the music industry is ever-changing but to foresee its future you have to understand where it came from and the problems that made it not successful, MIDEM gave me some perspective on that. For me MIDEM was about seizing the opportunity at hand and I think I was able to do that.