Over the years, end-of-MIDEM press briefings have become increasingly sad affairs, featuring declining attendance and general doom and gloom about the future of the music industry.
Not 2019, however. MIDEM director Alexandre Deniot held his conference, symbolically, on a €10.5 million superyacht in the marina. It’s the type of vessel people associate with the boat parties at MIDEM in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s – and, while the boat was only on loan, it seems like the good times could be coming back to the Cannes conference.
Last year MIDEM posted its first increase in attendance in many years, with 4,800 delegates. And this year will be even better, said Deniot, with the figure rising above the significant 5,000 mark, although the exact number is yet to be crunched.
“It’s a good trend,” Deniot said. “We have a bigger presence of people from Asia, China is doing well and Japan, we have more people from India and Vietnam. There are also more people from Latin America, plus the big markets. We’ve had an increase from the US, France and Germany. It means what we’re doing is going in the right direction, putting creativity and the artists at the centre of the conference, that’s why we have the artists hub, the songwriting camp and all those things.”
Deniot said there was no sign of a “Brexit effect” hitting the UK contingent yet. “People need to connect, especially with Brexit, so we’re here to really support the UK community,” he said.
But Deniot’s ambitions to turn the brand around don’t end there. Having launched the MIDEM Latin American Forum last year, he plans an African edition for 2020, most likely in Kenya.
And he is also planning a new data-driven awards show for next year’s main MIDEM event. When the conference was held in January, it coincided with the NRJ Awards, the French equivalent of the BRITs, which would often bring big international stars to the Croisette.
Deniot hopes the new awards, which will honour artists from different regions, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, English-speaking countries and Europe, will do the same for the modern MIDEM. The show will be “a mixture of a festival and a traditional awards show”, with both established and up-and-coming artists likely to feature in a live show on the beach.
“We want to be very innovative,” said Deniot. “No jury, no voting, only data. What we want to do is reflect what the fans are doing. They discover music on platforms such as Shazam, they stream music, they watch videos, they buy tickets, they engage on social media with their favourite artists. That’s the reality of what the fans are doing and we have data for all of this.
“We want to create a big celebration of music around the world and we want it to be transparent,” he added. “Because, with the traditional awards show, it’s like, ‘This guy’s going to win’, you don’t know why and there’s a gap between what the fans really enjoy and what they see on the show.
“We believe there’s room to do something different and something focused on the artists, the fans and the platforms.”
MIDEM is working with data company Soundcharts on the event, and talking to streaming companies about partnerships.