Life in Music - MidemThis year’s MIDEM was the perfect picture of the status of the music industry today: a continuous contrast between past and future, fear and excitement, confusion and clarity.

First of all, hats off to the organisation: all went smoothly (including the successful management of heavy strikes across France). Compared to last year, the program was more manageable, the spaces were more intelligent and this brought to an overall level of engagement among participants that was of a much higher quality – and it was more fun too.

On the business side, the industry is constantly changing and it is also playing an endless game of catch-me-if-you-can with new technology and new consumers behaviours. The future of music is the future of technology, and new technologies trigger new consumer behaviours that all other industries must adapt to, and very quickly that is, in order to remain relevant (which equals to remaining alive). We already talked about this when we covered the fantastic story of how the gaming industry has fenced off the risks related to piracy by inventing completely new business models, based on new consumers’ behaviours, which in turn are based on new technology (read our post here).

Life in Music - Midem

We thus heard a lot about VR (Virtual Reality) and the huge (but still largely unclear) impact it will have on music experiences for fans. We were schooled about hyper-short-form videos: no more than 6 seconds please, the attention span of the average user shrank to 8.2 seconds, and it’s expected to shrink further. There were less CDs around than last year: artists (more than labels) seem to have understood that fewer and fewer people know where to insert them so USB keys and links to cloud-stored music were more common than ever.

The Midem Artist Accelerator was high quality (as always) and this time located on the beach of the Hotel Carlton so that literally all of Cannes could enjoy the music. Last year the bands were playing at the Marina, and some at 1 PM under the burning sun so no wonder the crowds were much bigger and happier this year!

Life in Music - MidemAnd the Midem Lab was as fascinating as ever. It is the startup contest that in the past saw the presentation of huge success stories like Soundcloud, Kickstarter, Bandpage and many others. This year we saw a number of young companies harnessing technology to give new exciting experiences to musicians, fans and music companies. The future is exciting, fast, colourful and, mark my words, profitable. But profitable businesses will have to be smart, brave, fast and adaptive. The pace of change in technology is the necessary pace of change in business models, and who will get this will prosper (and have fun in doing so).

So there was a lot of creative energy, coming from the contrasts we outlined in the opening paragraph, which at the end of the day is a contrast between positivity and negativity. At this point in time, those who jump in properly equipped have an unprecedented chance to score big.