When you first step foot in Cannes, where palm trees stand in place of city scrapers, and the French Riviera acts as your office backdrop, there’s no shortage of inspiration in the beauty that surrounds you. As a global hub creatively, Midem has fed off of that inspiration for over 50 years, building one of the world’s premier music conferences, networking events, and music festivals in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Taking place at the lavish Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, Midem has proven time and again that it is not only at the forefront of creation in the music industry, but a breeding ground for music innovators worldwide. As Midem 2018 came to a close last week, SynchAudio was back in attendance, while again partnering as a sponsor for Sync Day. With another eventful four days of conferencing and live music behind us, here’s SynchAudio’s recap of Midem 2018:
When Midem opened its doors along the Mediterranean coast, a sea of global music leaders flooded the Palais des Festivals. With a stacked schedule of panels ahead, the first day of Midem was all business. Some hot topics to start off the week were streaming, and the state of the music industry in Africa.
The music industry’s investment in streaming has drastically shifted the tide away from piracy and towards legal music consumption. Recorded music revenues are now at 18 billion dollars a year, and are only trending upwards. While streaming has saved the music industry in many ways, there is still plenty of room for growth. More smartphones and sensible pricing for broadband width connections are the next steps, and will greatly increase users’ ability to stream music around the globe. Playlists play a huge role in gaining artists traction on streaming services and growing audiences. However, the number of influential playlist curators in North America has quickly consolidated. This puts a lot of control in the hands of a select few curators, who can help determine which artists receive exposure, breakout, and make money.
Africa needs to start creating solutions from within to take its next step forwards. At this point, most of the content that Africans consume comes from other parts of the world, and Africans should be the ones creating it. Another issue lies in the media’s portrayal of Africa, which is far from reality. If more content surfaces from within Africa, it will offer the perspective of creators that truly understand its culture. The African market exists, it just hasn’t been explored as thoroughly as the rest of the world might think.
⇒MIDEM BY NIGHT
After panels concluded during the day, attendees were invited to Midem Beach to unwind with concerts along the French Riviera. Each night showcased emerging global talent as a part of Midem’s Artist Accelerator, as well as a different international music showcase. Night One saw impressive acts hailing from South Africa, the UK, and Cuba:
• Wildwood Kin
The folk trio out of the UK set the mood early on in the night. Sisters Beth and Emillie Key, along with their cousin Meghann Loney, warmed the beach with soaring harmonies, and fired up the crowd with percussive breakdowns. Their delicate chemistry and dynamic songwriting was easily a highlight of Night One
• Big Star
It didn’t take long for Midem Beach to let loose after Big Star hit the stage. The South African rapper’s straight shot of hip-hop had the crowd moving, while his music’s jazzy undertones had them feeling. On a scenic night along the Mediterranean coast, Big Star stood shining the brightest.
• La Dame Blanche
Vibing latino rhythms, operatic raps, dizzying flute solos, Cuba’s La Dame Blanche is taking the rap genre to new grounds, and brought Midem Beach along with her for Night One. An entertainer in every sense of the word, her charisma onstage was as refreshing as her unique approach to crafting songs. She strutted on stage self-assured with a cigarette in hand, took a casual puff before her first operatic flourish, and the night was hers.
Day Two kicked off with a full afternoon of sync related panels for Sync Day. Attendees were treated to discussions from music supervisors, licensing experts, and a host of other knowledgeable sync professionals. Sync Day concluded with a roundtable pitching session, where invitees had 2 hours to pitch their music to 9 of the 10 prestigious music supervisors in attendance. Another highlight of the day featured a keynote with Snap’s Ben Schwerin and Geffen Records’ Neil Jacobson, as they talked augmented reality’s place in the music industry.
Sync refers to the process of placing music under any form of visual media. It’s no secret that sync has emerged as an important part of the music industry, and only looks to grow as new visual media platforms continue to surface. Artists that can connect with sync agencies greatly improve their chances of getting on a music supervisor’s radar. Music supervisors typically look to these agencies, which carry their own catalogue of licensable music, when they are searching for new tracks. Whether they’re with a sync agency or not, it’s essential that artists provide detailed metadata with their music, know where their sound fits, and pitch accordingly. Music supervisors never have a shortage of music to go through, and artists need to position themselves well to have any shot of getting synced.
Augmented reality is showing huge promise in the music industry’s future, comparable in many ways to the impact streaming has had. Apps like Snapchat utilize this technology, offering artists the ability to design filters (called Lenses) that feature a small part of a track as background music. These kinds of experiences present music in a way that is easy to consume, easy to share, reaches younger demographics, and can highlight the best segment of a song. This is encouraging because audiences have proven that they will seek out good music if it has been made accessible. Just ask streaming.
⇒MIDEM BY NIGHT
Midem was only picking up steam heading into Night Two. Another great lineup hit Midem Beach, while the acts out of Africa were definitely standouts on the night:
Adango’s Afro-soul stylings were deep grooving and full of feeling, incorporating worldly funk with strokes of jazz-fusion. Out of Central Africa, her soulful screeches were resonating throughout the packed crowd on the waterfront, and into streets of Cannes. After capping off her performance by serenading an audience member on stage, it was a done deal; the crowd was sold on Adango.
Nigerian singer-songwriter Bez treated Midem Beach to a stripped-down set, acting as the soothing ebb to the night’s flow of music. With an organic sound and sensational hooks, Bez turned the beach into his personal choir by the end of his set, with the whole crowd chanting his songs in unison along the waterfront. Bez closed his set by improvising verses about audience members on the spot, putting his charm and polish as a performer on full display for Night Two.
• Yemi Alade
You could feel the hype flowing throughout Midem Beach as Yemi Alade prepared to take the stage. An Afro-pop megastar out of Nigeria, Alade’s performance fully held up to her larger-than-life persona. She entered the stage with an air of royalty, set by back-flipping backup dancers and thunderous percussion. Yemi Alade already had the crowd set to erupt from anticipation by the time she reached the mic.
Day Three featured Midem’s first-ever Live Summit, with a packed lineup of panels following trends in live music. Influencers from all avenues of the live music industry talked the globalization of live music, the role of emerging tech, the state of the live festival scene, and emerging live acts. In what was easily a highlight of the week, Day Three also featured a keynote from SB Projects’ super-manager Scooter Braun, known for representing names like Kanye West, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber.
The live music business is thriving, and things are only going to get better. Streaming is allowing artists to grow quicker and last longer, while opening up more touring opportunities worldwide. Some artists can sell out stadiums behind just a few singles distributed on streaming services, even with no radio play. The biggest threat to the live music industry is terrorism, making an investment in security and safe venues an essential part of the future.
With music now highly accessible, music trends are coming from the streets, while labels have little influence in manufacturing what musical styles break out. As far as new acts go, they can do more than ever to build their own following and spread their sound. Music is a full-time job, artists need to grind and keep pushing past rejection to have any shot of staying in the public eye.
Scooter Braun’s keynote was every bit as inspiring as it was entertaining. In front of a buzzing main room, he shared lighthearted anecdotes from working alongside Kanye West, discussed the trials Justin Bieber faced as an adolescent pop-star in the digital age, and talked the inspiration behind Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert. Braun also offered a healthy perspective on separating work from life, and advice for artists trying to breakout. His message for up and comers was to invest their time in each other instead of those who have already made it, and only work with others that are truly passionate about their vision.
⇒MIDEM BY NIGHT
The final night of music moved inside the Grand Auditorium of the Palais Des Festivals, shifting Night Three’s dynamic to an elaborate theatre show. The final performers from Midem’s Artist Accelerator hit the stage, as well as upcoming acts out of Taiwan:
Haute served up a smooth blend of R&B and electronic music at Midem 2018. With tranquil free flowing grooves, and enticing hip-hop rhythms, the French duo made it easy to lose yourself in the Palais des Festivals’ spacious auditorium.
• Client Liasion
Out of Australia, Client Liasion’s performance was a vibrant throwback into 80’s electro-pop. Dressed in vogue and flying across the Grand Auditorium at will, lead singer Monte Morgan’s stage presence was fully captivating, making for a memorable close to Midem 2018’s Artist Accelerator series.
• Cosmos People
With hard-hitting funk numbers and edgy alt-rock, Cosmos People wrapped up the week’s live music on a high note. The four-piece offered a taste out of the Taiwan music scene, and it was more than welcome by the crowd at Midem 2018.
A shortened Day Four offered no shortage of insights to close out Midem 2018. Midem’s final afternoon of panels touched on the current state of A&R, indies, and analytics.
Artists have more tools than ever to build a following on their own, and A&Rs want to work with acts that can engage with their fan base. Artists that know who they are, and are confident in their direction, can sustain longer than someone with one hit and a lot of streams. A&Rs don’t just care about what music an artist releases, and how many listens it has on Spotify, they also want to know why audiences are listening. As far as analytics goes, there’s more music being consumed than ever, and tech can help A&Rs find artists quicker. While analytics will play an increasingly large role in evaluating artists, an A&R rep’s gut feeling is still an integral part of breaking artists.
SynchAudio was thrilled to return as a sponsor at Midem this year, joining global leaders in the music industry to share the music business’s latest developments. While Midem continues to live up to its name as the premier international music conferencing event, our team can only look forward to what’s in store for Midem 2019.
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.