Flashback: 2014 MIDEM Music Conference


Since my first day at Berklee Valencia, one of the highlights for all of the Global Entertainment & Music Business program Master’s candidates was the prospect of attending the Midem conference.  The annual music conference, Midem was held in Cannes, France from February 1st-February 4th.  This conference was the first official music conference that I’ve ever attended and it was also my first time visiting France.  Overall, these two factors contributed to a valuable and enjoyable experience.

Let’s briefly recap the events:

Initially on the first day I tried to remember all of the useful tips that had been driven and embedded to all of our heads. It could have been overwhelming at first sight—but fortunately I mapped out a game plan in advance and upon my arrival tweaked a few things with the assistance of the “Midem Smartphone App.”  My own personal interests were in the following areas: artist & repertoire field, music publishing, and digital streaming platforms.  I planned to attend events that catered to those specific areas.


The “Midem Smartphone App” was my best friend over the course of the three-day period that I was in attendance.  It sent reminders/alerts for some of the panels and events, and you could also select your favorite events to add to your own calendar within the app.  This allowed me to use my time efficiently in order to maximize my experience by visiting the different exhibitors and attending the panels that were of interest to me.  Many of the topics related to growth, sustainability and innovation since the theme for this year’s conference was “Get back to Growth? Make it Sustainable.”

“The one peculiar thing that struck a chord within me was the lack of music.  We were at a music conference that didn’t play much music at all.  During the evenings on site there were live shows here and there, but music wasn’t heard throughout the course of the day.  On one occasion there was a brief dance number performed by Brazilian dancers and a few drummers.”

One of the Midem Talks that I highly anticipated on attending featured Lyor Cohen and was moderated by Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records.  I really enjoyed the dialogue between Lyor and Tom.  Although I had been following Lyor’s career for some time, it was awesome to hear him and witness him tell it/re-live those moments firsthand.  It seemed as though two good friends were just catching up on old times.  They discussed Lyor’s journey and briefly scratched the surface of his new venture, 300.


Another highlight was the Midem Talk with emerging UK artist, Rita Ora.  I was somewhat familiar with her as an artist and I remembered her song “R.I.P” from a few years ago and of her Roc Nation affiliation, but outside of that I didn’t know much about her.  It was enlightening to hear about VEVO’s partnership with her to develop her as an artist while promoting her on their platform. She ended up debuting at #1 on the UK charts with the assistance of this partnership.  This showcased innovative ways of how artists are partnering with brands/platforms to assist in launching their careers.


Ultimately, I met a lot of wonderful people from across the globe and received and handed out numerous business cards.  I had a few successful meetings with different people from different companies.  It was a realistic portrayal because it wasn’t all glitz and glamour.  Two of my other scheduled meetings were no shows for different reasons (one person sustained an injury and the other forgot about it).  These experiences helped to weed out the people whom I would want to keep in touch with after the conference was over.

It was an amazing networking opportunity, and there are people who I’m already in contact with.  I didn’t enter this conference with the mindset of securing a job, but I knew that I would meet people who could potentially share the knowledge and resources that I’ve been looking for in regards to my career interests.

The Songwriters’ Life-long Partner

The Songwriter
Every songwriter’s goal for their song is to get it heard, sung or played, featured (for example in a film, commercial or on television) or all of the above.  Some writers want to perform their own work and others write for other artists to perform their work. Some do both. Apart from being an artist, songwriting is a great way to still be creative and make a living. In ways it may be better than only performing, because the more successful the song is the better the pay is in comparison to performing. One musical partner the songwriter will learn to appreciate is their publisher.

The Publisher                                                                                                      MP

There are three types of publishers called the administrator, independent and major. They all do the same job, but on different levels and they all take a commission or percentage of your earnings. The administrator tends to not help with the creative process and does not invest money in the beginning or advances. The independents do invest and target to the average successful songwriter. The major has the most money to invest, but will take a very large commission (which is relatively fair), but the rate can be high and difficult to negotiate.

What they do and why they are needed? The publisher’s main job is to promote your songs, sell your songs, and make sure you get paid for when those songs are used. They keep track of the song and track every place it gets played and guarantees the delivery of your royalties.

Similar to publishing companies are performance rights organizations (PRO’s) (AscapBMISesac and SoundExchange, a non-profit PRO). You ask, “What is the difference between a publishing company and a performance rights organization?” They both do similar jobs, but the main difference is that the PRO’s only collect your licensing fees and provide you with the performance royalties (live performances, radio play, etc.). The publishing company does this, but with the mechanical royalties (from CD’s, downloads, etc.). The publisher can also shop your song to artists, labels and organizations, invests in your artistry while just starting out, and can provide you with sheet music (depending on your contract with them).

How to reach the Publisher
The best way to find the best publisher for you is to research what publishers focus in what genre. Research the songs that you love and write similar to and research who their publisher is. Keep in mind the location you desire to be in and where the publisher is located.  Decide, which type of publisher you would like (administrator, independent or major). Discover what you want to gain and why you will choose who you choose. Once you have chosen send them an email expressing interest and along with that some sample songs for them to ponder on. Always, follow-up.

Working for the Publisher
Publishers normally hire a writer as a contracted staff writer, which produces a “work for hire”. It can be beneficial for the writer depending on their preference or copyright ownership and income from the works. The negative fact about “work for hire” is that the songs belong to the company and not the writer due to them working for the company. The writer will be paid a fee for the works created.


Can you publish your own music?  
You sure can publish your songs. The process may not be as easy as collaborating with a publishing company, but it can be worthwhile to start your own publishing company. Many Independent artists publish their own music. You can keep track of your music played through companies such as CD Baby and iTunes. There are also publishing companies that work specifically for independent artists, such as Kobalt and Imagem which will still take a commission, but will be doing the hard work for you. TAXI is a company that, “helps independent artists, songwriters and composers get record, publishing and Film/TV deals,” according to their website. They charge an annual fee for the services, but it seem very reliable and beneficial. Another way to start it is through a performance rights organization, for example BMI offers rates for registering a publishing company. The rates are under $300 for an individual and for a corporation. Being your own publisher has become very popular and the rate of those doing it has definitely increased through the years. So have faith and have the courage to set your own rules if that’s what you desire.