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Midem is a major music industry event that takes place in the marvellous city of Cannes, in the South of France.

This year it attracted 6,500 music professionals from all over the world. The atmosphere was exciting, in a mix of people, music, business, cultures, technology. And for the first time it was held in June instead of the customary slot in January – I really can’t complain about this switch, also because the weather was simply gorgeous.

I had countless conversations and attended as many presentations and talks as I could, and I was overwhelmed with ideas, energy and information. I was also struck by some recurring themes.

Some people are just really depressed about what happened to the industry, i.e. the destruction of a whole business model due to all things internet that happened in the last 15+ years. Talking with these people you sense no hope, and I really can understand where these feelings came from. The “highlight” for me was this A&R guy who literally told me: “So you are putting YOUR OWN MONEY in this industry… now?????” and looked at me with a mix of bewilderment and pity… I politely refused to sit down and have coffee with him not to be sucked in his downward spiral, but I really felt sorry that he was so disheartened. And he was not the only one.

On the other hand, a lot of people are creating the future and are super excited about the opportunities they see. Here the highlight was a guy who boldly said while giving a presentation: “There has never been a more exciting moment to invest in the music industry”, and his eyes were bright and shiny. Yeah man, of course I’m with you, but think of the sharp contrast between two opposing views in the same industry… quite surreal!

So many young and brilliant minds are working to constantly innovate, and they will be the makers of the music industry of the future. I have seen startup founders pitching to venture capitalists all sorts of new business models and concepts, and it was exciting to feel their drive and their energy. After all Spotify and many other innovative music companies were first seen at Midem in previous years.

Something else struck me in a weird way: a number of music executives had negative comments about managing artists, saying that they are “too full of themselves” and they are simply “too hard to handle”. I was surprised. These comments reminded me of my experience in corporations, where different “groups” band together against other groups: they end up talking by stereotypes and all hopes for constructive dialogue are gone because communication and (dis)trust issues emerge everywhere. When you address these correctly, by building bridges and by listening, energy is released and creativity flows towards value creation. I absolutely believe that this can be done in the music industry too, the tools to do it are here and the ones that are not here yet will be built soon. We need a cultural transformation, but this is already happening (and cannot be stopped). The ones who see this and embrace the change will be the winners of tomorrow.

Communicating over the internet is a great thing, but there is really no substitute for meeting people in person. Period. This is the biggest value such an event provides: real meetings with real people in the right environment. I met musicians, producers, managers, academics, and I will share some of their stories on these pages because they are pure, beautiful and inspiring.

Some seeds were planted, let’s see what will bloom.