MidemNet to show six of the best to industry

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The movers and shakers of the music industry are set to be wowed by six of the most innovative music technology ideas at this month's MidemNet conference, including a futuristic musical table and software that can write music that replicates the style of famous composers.

The six start-ups will vie to be named inaugural winners of the Music Ally/MidemNet New Business Showcase award, with delegates voting by text for the most creative design. MidemNet kicks off in Cannes on 26 January and is expected to attract up to 15,000 delegates. The event is the digital offshoot of the broader Midem conference, which is the biggest industry event of the year, and has grown to become a key meeting place for the industry's leading lights given the industry's desire to grow digital revenues.

The six start-up companies short-listed as this year's hottest music technologies could not have hoped for a more influential audience to pitch to with the head of Vivendi, owner of Universal Music, and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D scheduled to speak.

Of the infant companies, ReacTable, a bizarre electronic musical table that modulates sound as objects are placed on it, is perhaps the strangest. Icelandic singer Bjork ordered a prototype after seeing a video on YouTube. The table, which was developed by the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, creates synthesiser-like sounds as items are rotated around the tabletop and should appeal to musicians sick of playing musical chairs.

Another odd innovation is the Music Drop, a tear-shaped earpiece that plays one song, once. It was developed by German design student Noa Lerner as a luxury item intended to be a gift and its creator is already in talks with potential investors about bringing it to market. A third technology called Recombinant may put the fear of god into music executives.

The logarithm analyses sheet music and generates limitless amounts of new compositions in the style of any composer. It is already working with Gracenote, the music recognition database used by iTunes, and could be used by advertisers or video games companies looking for music that sounds like an artist's work while avoiding paying royalties.

Anyone wondering what a song jointly composed by The Sex Pistols and Debussey would sound like, this technology will find out.

Other finalists include Voxonic which produces foreign language versions of songs in the singer's voice; a data collection technology that measures the popularity of music across social networking sites called Musiclink and a Dutch online "music locker" called Twones that is also a social networking site.

Paul Brindley, managing director of Music Ally which is sponsoring the awards, said: "Innovation is key to the success of the music industry in the 21st century, but it's often way ahead of the music industry's commercial realities."