Written by Sandy James
Edited by Farinoush Mostaghimi (Noush)
Every year Midem gathers the music business’s brightest minds in Cannes to share industry insights, network, and celebrate their respective crafts. Recently wrapping up its 50th year, the event has established itself as an institution in the music community internationally. Through its host of engaging panels, lavish mixers and beachfront concerts along the French Riviera, this year’s deliberations did not disappoint. Here’s SynchAudio’s recap from Midem 2017:
Set at the elaborate Palais de Festival, Midem’s opening day was buzzing. The event venue’s literal English translation “Festival Palace” is really the only description to do its aesthetic justice. The year’s built up anticipation proved enough to stave off jet lag, as panelists were on point and audiences fully engaged. A strong theme throughout Day 1 was the emergence of streaming.
Streaming is no longer just a force to be reckoned with in the music industry, it is the force. It has solidified itself as the primary method of consuming music, and industry professionals are faced with monetizing streaming platforms in a way that benefits artists and the music business as a whole. Currently an artist’s presence on streaming platforms is essential for exposure, despite minimal payouts. This has given tech companies a stronghold over labels in negotiations.
The rapid shift to streaming has created a competitive marketplace for streaming services, all battling to differentiate themselves. The consensus is that a platform distinguishes itself by curating its catalogue towards local markets. On an artist’s side of things, getting on playlists should now be treated with the same gravity as radio promo. However, the bottom line is that the music is still the biggest part to any equation. You won’t get anywhere without quality content whether you’re an artist, label, or streaming service. In that sense, it’s no surprise streaming has taken control with such force. If content is king, streaming wears the crown.
⇒MIDEM BY NIGHT
Midem’s nights were filled with all you can eat h’orderves, champagne stocked open bars, and waterfront concerts on the suitably named Majestic Beach. Each night hosted a different international music showcase, and featured upcoming acts as a part of Midem’s Artist Accelerator. A definite highlight of Night One was the music out of the UK:
- Dream Wife
The four piece punk collective out of London brought an edge that could have forced the crowd into the French Riviera off Majestic Beach. They were fearless in the face of an audience full of industry influencers, carrying an attitude that was mosh worthy. The hook from one of their last tracks is still stuck in my head, but definitely not appropriate to sing in public.
- Jake Isaac
Isaac put on the show you’d be disappointed not to get if you were going to a beachfront concert. His upbeat energy had hold of the crowd from the get go, controlling the tone with tropically rhythmic acoustic numbers and soothing ballads. That summer festival moment where everything just feels perfect was Jake Isaac.
- Iris Gold
Clad in a jumpsuit coloured to match her moniker, Iris Gold was a personal favourite. The London based pop-funkstress poured her heart out at Midem. If you happen to be in Cannes, you can likely still find remnants of soul engrained deep on the sands of Majestic Beach from Iris Gold’s time on stage.
The second day of Midem was eventful to say the least. Most notably Day Two featured SynchAudio’s Sync & Brands Day. Presented with Midem for its fourth straight year, the afternoon featured talks from game changers in the world of sync. Among others, speakers included award-winning music supervisor Nora Felder (Stranger Things, Ray Donovan, The OA), and SVP of Sony Pictures Television Tony Scudellari. Another standout from the day featured Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus discussing the songwriting process. This involved the duo writing the beginnings of a song live in front of a packed main room.
Synchronization is the process of placing music under any form of visual media. It has become a vital part of the music business, and is only growing as a revenue stream for artists and industry professionals alike. Artists can greatly improve their chances of getting music placed in film or television by working through a sync placement company. Having sync representation largely expands an artist’s contacts and access to briefs. Music supervisors like to work with sources they trust, and reputable sync agencies are often the first stop.
With a stacked lineup and a revitalized audience, Majestic Beach erupted into a full-fledged dance party on the second night of Midem.
- Miss Garrison
As a part of the Chilean showcase, Miss Garrison was a definite highlight of the night. Miss Garrison’s performance was all-entrancing, with a unique mix of vibing synth-pop rooted in traditional Latino influences. They brought the crowd to peaks and valleys at will, although the performance as whole was definitely a peak.
Shakka took the energy of Midem’s second night to another level. Rapidly gaining steam as a premiere emerging hip hop act, Shakka’s full talents were on display for Night 2. Wyclef Jean put it best after Shakka joined him for a guest appearance later in the night: “I know what’s next, and Shakka is next.”
- Wyclef Jean
On stage dance parties, spontaneous bass solos, 40-foot stage climbs. In what should only be expected, Wyclef Jean put on a show worthy of his name. The renowned hip-hop artist and producer showed the crowd how a seasoned performer gets it done, and had Cannes’ beaches fired up on all fronts by the end of the night.
Day Three covered a breadth of topics from sync and brand partnerships, to chatbots, AI, and the value gap. Audiences heard from tech gurus, business moguls, and pop-stars. Standouts included a one on one chat with Daddy Yankee discussing his work creating the world’s current chart topper, and a Midem Wrap Up that very effectively touched on the week’s key points in under an hour. Despite the many different subjects covered, the importance of artists maintaining control seemed to permeate throughout the day.
Whether it’s tech, business, or song creation, the artist is at the centre of the music industry. Artists need to control as much of their product as possible. They should only team with trustworthy partners that will work for them, not against them. It’s not enough just to be good, having a business sense will make all of the difference as an artist. Technology has placed more control than ever in the hands of content creators, and they need to use it to their advantage. Messaging apps and chatbots are still in the process of gaining traction, but can be a great tool for artists to better understand their fan base.
The music industry’s role is to look out for the artist. While artists don’t need labels in the same way they used to, labels need to cater to an artist’s needs more on an individual level. Content is more publicly accessible than ever, but music’s middle class needs resurgence. The tech is there to help fuel it, but needs to be used in the right way.
Midem’s third and final night of beachfront entertainment had a lot to live up to, and did not disappoint. Attendees were treated to performances from the best new acts out of Taiwan, as well as the conclusion to Midem’s Artist Accelerator showcase.
- Kiddy Smile
On a picturesque night set by the French Riviera’s calming tides, nothing was smoother than Kiddy Smile. Smile’s laid back electronic stylings were as fashionable as his vibrantly outfitted backing band. Full of feeling and an energy that seemed to come effortlessly, Kiddy Smile had the crowd at Midem fully engaged.
- DJ QuestionMark
DJ QuestionMark kept the audience on its heels with a vinyl collection as limitless as his musical aptitude. He didn’t miss a beat whether he was spinning Lonely Island remixes, swing classics, or rocking an impromptu jazz flute solo at center stage. You never knew what was coming next from DJ QuestionMark, but you could trust you’d want to see it.
- Acid Arab
The finale to Midem’s live music series was in good hands with Acid Arab behind the turntables. Out of Paris the eclectic EDM duo integrates Middle Eastern and African influences, crafting an exhilarating blend of global electronica. By the night’s close their set had evolved into a full-fledged musical celebration on Majestic Beach.
Despite only taking place over half of a day, the week’s final panels were fully engaging. A&R reps from around the globe explained their respective approaches to representing artists, and radio professionals discussed radio’s place in today’s industry. Music’s globalization in the digital age seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the afternoon.
Streaming platforms have made it much easier for artists to reach fans internationally, greatly expanding the global music market. Despite having more access to international music, fans will always feel a connection to local artists. This is where radio has to play a large role in today’s music economy. Radio stations have a responsibility to help develop local acts, and resist the urge to exclusively play hits. Building a trusting relationship with listeners by airing quality content is a must, and can be leveraged to give talented indie artists exposure.
SynchAudio was proud to partner with Midem this year, celebrating the latest trends in music through a lively 4 days. Midem continues to be a leader in global music conferencing, and we only look forward to what the shores of Cannes might bring at Midem 2018.
SynchAudio is a Toronto boutique music placement company that provides one-stop, representation for the use of music and media in all screen based storytelling platforms. Follow @SynchAudio for more great music industry news or log on to synchaudio.com to preview our extensive catalogue.