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Inside Story: The 42nd edition of Midem

Midem used to be a bit of a jolly for the music business, especially for staff at the major labels. Networking, wheeling and dealing at Cannes, on the French Riviera, in January? What’s not to like?

Yet, given the current parlous state of the music industry, you’ll probably be amazed that anyone can still justify the expense of sending employees to the convention. In fact, Le Marché International du Disque et des Editions Musicales, to give Midem its full name, has never been in ruder health, with nearly 10,000 delegates, from close to 100 different countries, due to descend on Le Grand Palais and the Croisette in less than three weeks’ time for the 42nd edition of the event.

While the majors and the recording side of the industry are in retreat, music is actually more in demand than ever. It’s the éditions, the publishing side, and the live sector that are driving the whole thing, and agents are always on the look-out for new performers and writers to sign or license.

There are also deals to be done for digital downloads and mobile phone use. With touring and merchandising growing stronger by the year, and bringing in more revenue than CDs or vinyl, spotting a new artist from continental Europe, or further afield, early can help you beat the competition. Every country, from Scandinavia to Australia via Russia, China and Canada, is now running an Export Music Bureau of some kind, helping Midem grow more international by the year.

Indeed, the British will be out in force, with every industry body, from the BPI to PPL via MCPS and AIM (the Association of Independent Music Ltd) represented inside the cavernous basement of the Palais des Festivals, as well as independents like Cherry Red Records and Union Square Music.

Musicians Peter Gabriel and Nitin Sawhney, Domino label head honcho Laurence Bell and Nick Gold of World Circuit Records, will all put in an appearance in conversation and conferences. Although I’m sure people will be there just as much to try and learn a few tricks from David Campbell, the president and CEO of AEG Europe, and Marc Mathieu, senior VP, Global Brand Marketing & Creative Excellence, Coca-Cola. The keynote address entitled Online Bonanza: Who is making the money and why aren’t they sharing it? by U2 manager Paul McGuinness also sounds particularly invigorating.

But Midem is not exclusively a talking shop and schmooze-fest. It also has classical, jazz and rock and pop concerts every night. Again, the UK will show the way with two events at the legendary Martinez Hotel on Monday 28 January. The British Acoustic bill features Welsh wonderkid Karl Morgan, soulful chanteuse Beth Rowley, singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti and Bailey Tzuke (pictured), who definitely takes after her mum Judie Tzuke.

Later on that evening, the British at Midem will present The New York Fund, Mark Ronson associate Tawiah, and Reverend & The Makers, the pulsating electrorockers from Sheffield. Crooner Richard Hawley, already an established name in the UK and throughout much of Scandinavia, rounds off the bill. From naming his albums after Sheffield landmarks Lady’s Bridge and Coles Corner, to performing on the Croisette, via his days in The Longpigs and Pulp, Hawley has travelled further than most, but is still keen to raise his profile in continental Europe. Midem, the world’s music market in Cannes, should provide the perfect location to showcase his timeless songs. The Croisette is his for the taking.

Midem, Palais des Festivals and other venues, Cannes 27-31 January 2008 More info at www.midem.com.