MIDEM – A place to network and learn

MIDEM, the music industry’s annual networking and deal-making event, is a great place to make connections and do business, explains Oliver Sussat.

I’ve travelled to MIDEM every year since 2004. This is an event, held in the South of France, where people from across the music industry (everyone from keen intern to head honcho) come together. It’s your once-a-year opportunity to skip straight past the personal assistant and get face-time with music industry decision-makers.

The long weekend which takes place inside Cannes’ legendary Palais Du Festival has always been a long-term highlight in the work calendar, but last year, something even more amazing happened. Reed, the organisers of MIDEM, rescheduled the event from January to June. Et voila! MIDEM was reborn. Re-energised with un petit peut of the glitz and glamour of the Cannes Film Festival. I’m promising you now that MIDEM in the sun, it’s way more fun. From the nine hour days inside the Palais (with an occasional visit to its roof-top to steal some midday sun) to the night-time parties on the red carpeted beach of The Carlton Hotel (with free bars, amazing food and great music) and the multitude of superyacht soirees that you can get invited to, summertime MIDEM demands a work hard, play hard mentality.

This year, MIDEM turned 50 years old, and with many of the festival’s veterans making a special trip to Cannes to celebrate what they started half a century ago, old and new music industry figures were united in looking ahead to the future, deliberating as to how the industry, and even the festival, may look in another 50 years. MIDEM was born out of a need for people to be together to do business. Of course, with the age of the internet, email, Skype and the such, all that has changed. As a result, MIDEM is no longer quite the same deal-making marketplace it used to be.

Granted, lots of honest business is still done at the event, however deals are usually tied up by people back at home, rather than on a handshake in the Palais as they used to be. If not a place for sealing the deal, what is MIDEM today?

Especially after the digital revolution hit in the 2000s and music industry revenues declined steeply, MIDEM became a place of learning for creative thinkers who wanted to know what to do next. Today, learning and discussion is still a big part of what MIDEM is all about.

As well as being able to wander the maze of exhibition stands that cover the Palais (with everybody from record labels to studios and collection societies to technology start-ups exhibiting there), you’ll find “theatre” areas that play host to a variety of events from presentations and panels to professional speed-dating activities. My favourite talks this year were from Daniel Glass (of Glassnote Entertainment Group) and Claire Mas (Head of Digital for Communion Music) who both, in their own way, spoke about the future and how certain technological and commercial developments may bring about positive change for entrepreneurial
artists. Could you be such a person? 

This year, a big theme at MIDEM was technology. Some may say that music and technology have been inextricably linked for some time, and regular MIDEM goers would agree that technology has for many years played an important role in the event. However, this year seemed different. MIDEM moved beyond technologies as tools for industry and much further towards technologies that are being used to aid creative processes themselves. There seemed to be far more creative talent in attendance, and this, dear iSing readers, is where you come into things.

Whilst MIDEM isn’t as artist-focused as an event such as SXSW (that’s South-By-South-West in Texas), there are still plenty of learning, networking, business and even performance opportunities to be found there for the pro-active amongst you. Do you know about the MIDEM Artist Accelerator, for example? This is a prestigious programme that promises to grow the profiles of 12 international artists every year.

If you’re interested in attending MIDEM in 2017, here are my top tips for making
the most of your trip:
  • Watch midem.com for the dates. Dates for 2017 haven’t been announced yet, but are expected to be in early June.
  • Book your tickets early. MIDEM offers artists and students a special rate starting at €295. As far as flights to Nice (Cannes’ nearest airport) go, use a tool like Sky Scanner to let you know when new tickets become available. For accommodation, Airbnb is your friend. Give yourself a day either side of MIDEM to travel and enjoy a little of the Cote D’Azur.
  • Go with purpose. Decide what your objectives of the trip are and then work towards them. Use the midem.com participants directory to start monitoring who else will be attending the event and try to book some meetings ahead of your trip. Don’t get yourself too booked up in advance, though – as you’ll want to be flexible enough to also accommodate opportunities that arise when you’re in Cannes.
  • Get some good business cards made. Don’t take too many other promotional items with you and only give out those items to people who you think will really appreciate them. A lot of promo actually gets dumped at the airport, when people’s luggage is weighed and found to be over the weight restrictions.
  • Practice your networking skills. You’re going to need to get used to talking to people and making the acquaintance of relative strangers. The likelihood is the people you’ll meet at MIDEM will be in exactly the same situation as you, and really glad to strike up conversation.
  • Pick up your MIDEM badge and goodie bag from the Palais Du Festival the day before MIDEM starts, because you’ll want to attend the Networking Breakfast early on the first day to start meeting some folk.
  • Read the MIDEM newspaper that is inside the goodie bag. It will tell you where all the official MIDEM events are happening. Look out for the opening party. It’ll most likely be the best bash you’ll ever go to. There’s free bar, free food, free music and a beach setting too.
  • Have fun. Stay safe. The music industry is an fantastic industry in which to work. Work hard, play hard and have an amazing time.

If you’d like to find out more about this year’s MIDEM and how it went for the 20 or so students I took with me, check out this video.

ACM Students at MIDEM 

Website: midem.com