All of Music Ally’s Midem 2017 coverage in one place


The dust is settling from this year’s Midem 2017 conference in Cannes, where Music Ally’s editorial team of Stuart Dredge and Eamonn Forde reported on more than 30 panels and keynote sessions between them.

That’s a lot of #content to navigate through, so we’ve drawn it all together in this post, grouped into keynotes and individual themes, and picking out a highlighted quote or two from each session with a link to our full report.

Read on for the summaries, which we hope gives you an overview of the key talking points in Cannes this week.



If we had to pick ‘the trend’ of Midem 2017, it would be China. Across several sessions, some startling numbers and insightful views were shared. But India and Latin America were also sparking debate.

Tencent Music’s Andy Ng keynote – and 600m MAUS
There was no contest for the slide of the week: it belonged to Tencent Music Entertainment Group boss Andy Ng, and revealed that his company’s three music-streaming services have 600 million monthly-active users, and 200 million daily active users. 15 million of those people are paying subscribers – up from five million in 2015 – with Tencent aiming to reach 25 million paying subscribers by 2019. “You also see that only the teenagers are willing to pay for the music services!” he said. “The youngsters in China are really getting a lot more educated than the older guys. They know content has a value, and they respected that, so they are willing to pay for the music services.” Also interesting: 60% of Tencent’s streaming catalogue is Anglo-American tracks, while only 4% is Chinese music. “However, over 80% of our users are only listening to this 4% of Chinese catalogue…”
Read our full session report

Roadmap to China: tips for music success in 2017
A panel with Tiantai Law’s Cherry Chunfei Guo; Ultimate Music China’s TC Pan; Amusic Rights Management’s Billy Koh; and Outdustry’s Ed Peto. Highlight: Pan on the big-tech strategies. “All the big portals like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are investing heavily to buy exclusive copyrights from even the three majors,” he said. “As they invest so much money in these copyrights, they have got to make it back one way or the other. Ad-supported is just not the way. It takes too long and the money is not coming in as quick as just getting people to pay for it. The big platforms will definitely push for the paid market to be even more mature.” Currently, 15-20% of consumption of recorded music in the country is Anglo-American. This, the panelists agreed, is only set to grow.
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WMG on how Christopher topped the Chinese charts
China has been a big theme at this year’s Midem, and a keynote panel with Warner Music Group explained how Danish pop star Christopher had broken through in China. “You have no Facebook, you have no Twitter, no Snapchat, no Instagram. You don’t even have YouTube. So you’re effectively having to start again, and the only way to do that is by going into the country,” said WMG’s Simon Robson. “You have to come regularly… if you can come to China say for a week or half a week on a regular basis, it makes all the difference.” Colleague Beth Appleton said the experience has been valuable for WMG: “If you look at south east Asia, the way they think about connecting with audiences and fans is future-progressive. We can learn a lot…”
Read our full session report

Roadmap to India: tips for music success in 2017
A panel with Times Music’s Mandar Thakur; EarthSync India’s Sonya Mazumdar; Saavn’s Gaurav Sharma; and Outdustry’s Ed Peto. Highlight: Peto on the dynamics of the Indian market. “In what are the early days of digital music’s arrival in India where we effectively have the giant Bollywood structure smashing into this new digital ecosystem, it is primarily done by licensing those catalogues into a service via a minimum guarantee deal,” he said. “If you are part of one of those deals, then you participate in a negotiated minimum guarantee. If you are outside of the ability to be a part of that catalogue, you almost don’t participate in a meaningful way.” Also stats on Saavn’s growth: it currently has 20 million monthly active users. “We are growing organically by about 1-2m users a month,” said Sharma. “There is definitely opportunity. We are still scratching the surface.”
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Local streaming services: Anghami, Hungama and more
A session gathering streaming services from various parts of the world: iMusica, Anghami, Napster, Hungama, Trace and ELLO. Highlight: Middle Eastern service Anghami’s CEO Eddy Maroun revealing its latest stats. “We are now at around 41 million users, but we also need to grow our revenues so that everyone is happy,” he said. “We’re not just in growth in terms of numbers, but also in terms of revenues.” Anghami’s 41m users generate 650m streams a month currently.
Read our full session report



Tuesday was Midem’s ‘Streaming Day’ with a strand devoted to discussing trends in and around streaming. Meanwhile, Deezer’s keynote focused on the opportunities and challenges around this market in 2017.

Deezer CEO on revenues and big-tech competition
“We are growing quite nicely and this year we will do over €300m in revenue,” said Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht, interviewed for a Midem keynote by Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge. “We have developed a very strong direct customer business which is growing 40% year-on-year. We now have more than 12m active users.” Albrecht went on to say that “nowadays more than 50% of the usage of Deezer is lean-back”, and said that Deezer’s ambition to explore user-centric licensing has resulted in “pretty good feedback from most” of the labels. “We have a lot of support already and if it works it could be done by the end of the year,” he said. Albrecht also talked about competition, following his company’s decision to join Spotify in asking the European Commission to investigate Apple and Google’s role as tech gatekeepers. “Those big players try to control where is the consumer going?.. You can see they do it via hardware, obviously. They do it via software. They do it via the voice control nowadays,” he said. “So if you go on Alexa for example, they don’t direct somebody who’s searching for Abba to Deezer for sure! They direct them to their own services… That’s a concern. And we have to discuss that openly with those players, and with Brussels as well.”
Read our full session report

What’s next for music-streaming services?
A panel with LyricFind’s Darryl Ballantyne; Armonia’s Virginie Berger; Musimap’s Vincent Favrat; Amazon’s Rishi Mirchandani; and Qobuz’s Malcolm Ouzeri, moderated by TAG Strategic’s Ted Cohen. While Echo/Alexa and voice-control sparked enthusiasm, Ballantyne poured some cold water on the hype around smart-speaker personalisation. “You start to get to the point where people aren’t that comfortable with Alexa knowing that much about you. If she knows that you’re there with your friend, or what you were doing in your car, or what you did last summer, there’s a level of fear with a lot of people about how much knowledge that device and that company has about everything you’re doing, and your habits…”
Read our full session report

Will music fans want to ‘stream the studio’ in hi-res?
A panel with 7digital’s Pete Downton; MQA’s Mike Jbara; Qobuz’s Malcolm Ouzeri; Sony Music’s Andre Stapleton; and Universal Music’s Ty Roberts, with DEG’s Marc Finer moderating. A session clearly intended to bang the drum for hi-res audio sparked into life when Ouzeri took issue with research cited by the DEG as proving younger music fans will be hot for hi-res. “When you go to them and say how much they’re going to spend on hi-res music, are they going to spend 20 euros a month, when they have so much trouble spending 10 euros a month at the moment?” said Ouzeri.
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How can indie music companies succeed in streaming?
A panel with SoundCloud’s Raoul Chatterjee; Mom and Pop’s Thaddeus Rudd; and Downtown Music’s Roberto Neri, moderated by Midia Research’s Zach Fuller. “The current conditions require artists to be ambitious and savvy in terms of spreading their music. I wouldn’t say ‘marketing’ their music necessarily, because Courtney Barnett doesn’t ‘market’ her music,” said Rudd, referring to one of Mom and Pop’s breakout artists. “But that music is going to spread and be shared differently, and that’s an opportunity. It’s made artists that might have been bespoke and niche and cult have the potential to reach many more people… At Mom and Pop the revenue from Apple Music in one year has become incredibly large compared to what it took Spotify to reach that point, and it’s replaced erosion on the sales store.”
Read our full session report

Music streaming 2.0: new models and emerging markets
A panel with 7digital’s Simon Cole; Tencent’s Andy Ng and XPERI’s Geir Skaaden. Highlight: “There are 100 million people paying to stream and maybe another 200 million streaming for three. There are three billion people listening to the radio every day,” said Cole. “Those people are going to be the streamers of the future.” Meanwhile, Ng claimed that when prompted to choose music, 70% of Tencent’s users choose the phrase ‘don’t care’. “They just need music but ‘I just don’t care!’. Maybe they are doing exercise, having a shower. They just want some background noise, some background music…” Cole said that algorithms can still fall short though. “It took Apple five days after David Bowie died to curate a single playlist of David Bowie music. That tells me we are a long, long way for doing – pardon my French – the bleeding obvious… There are some really complicated things in AI, but getting this much better than it is at the moment is not complicated.”
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Distributors talk music streaming
A panel with The Orchard’s Scott Cohen; ADA Worldwide’s Eliah Seton; TuneCore’s Marie-Anne Robert; and Africori’s Yoel Kenan, moderated by Ralph Simon. Highlight: Cohen on streaming strategy. “If I get on New Music Friday on Spotify, that doesn’t help me at Apple Music, and if I get a great feature on Apple Music, that doesn’t help my Deezer streams. You’ve got to have a strategy for each of them,” he said. “Plan for success. What’s next? Great, we got it on New Music Friday this week. So what’s next week? What is your plan for next week, and the week after… But if you don’t have great music, it just doesn’t matter what your fucking plan is… You’re fucked!” Cohen also talked about the need to ‘create natively’ for streaming. “What’s native to streaming platforms? Certainly not albums. The way to make sure nobody hears your album is to put it up there! One song at a time. You can only promote one song at a time…”
Read our full session report


How Run The Jewels found fame and fortune through fans
Manager Amaechi Uzoigwe from Monotone, and marketing agency The Other Hand’s Zena White discussed the rise of hip-hop duo Run The Jewels, including releasing music for free. “Actually, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. The free record we found was a way for people to come to the music, and then they’d stay,” said White. “If that meant they were buying tickets or t-shirts or vinyl… or even buying it on iTunes as a download, even though they can get it for free. Because they want to pay for it.” Uzoigwe also talked about Run The Jewels’ visual aesthetic. “We try and keep the ball in play always. Visually, because especially young people, they listen as much with their eyes as their ears these days, so you’ve got to make it interesting.”
Read our full session report

Daddy Yankee on his digital-fuelled global success
Daddy Yankee is currently having something of a moment, thanks to his ‘Despacito’ collaboration with Luis Fonsi topping charts around the world. He talked about how digital has played a role in his success. “Streaming is the new street marketing! What happened with the rap scene in New York [in the late 1970s] is basically what happened with us,” he said. “The label [generally] invests in you as an artist, but I own my own masters,” he explained. “When I went to YouTube and Vevo, they were surprised I had no label. I said I wanted to do a direct deal with them. No middle men. I don’t know if there is another artist who has that.”
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Messaging, bots and AI’s evolution in 2017
A panel on messaging apps and bots featured The Bot Platform’s Syd Lawrence; Sony Music’s Ricardo Chamberlain; Polydor’s Luke Ferrar; SuperPlayer’s Gustavo Goldschmidt; The Orchard’s Nikoo Sadr; and Pop’s Tim Heineke. “I think the word ‘bot’ sounds like it’s some crazy AI supreme being,” joked Ferrar. “It feels a bit off-putting and it sounds complicated when actually I think ‘messaging’ is a better phrase to describe the interaction with the bot. I think we need to move away from the word ‘bot’ and more towards ‘messages’ so that people will understand this world of communication more.” Lawrence was optimistic. “The numbers are vast,” he said. “We have found something that drives significant revenues […] With Hardwell, we launched a picture book and it drove more sales that Google, Facebook and Twitter combined. It’s ridiculous!”
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How indie labels cut through the noise in 2017
A panel with CTRL Management’s Nadia Khan; Kobalt Music Recordings’ Nathan Liddle-Hulme; XL Recordings’ Caroline Simionescu-Marin; and Secretly Group’s Michelle Kambasha, with AIM’s Lara Baker moderating. “I find in the UK, the two main streaming platforms are very receptive to independent labels and acts,” said Liddle-Hulme. Khan was also effusive about the democratising power of streaming for smaller labels. “Streaming has opened out and levelled the playing field between majors and indies,” she suggested. “This has moved on from the old model of gatekeepers at radio deciding what is going to be a hit.”
Read our full session report

Digital marketing trends and best practices
After an introduction from Music Ally’s head of training and development Wesley A’Harrah, a panel including Rock Estatal Records / The Music Company’s Michel Rojo; The Orchard’s Nikoo Sadr as moderator; Despotz Records’ Carl-Marcus Gidlöf; and Hospital Records’ Romy Harber talked marketing in 2017, including streaming playlists. “You should focus and think about what you’d do if you don’t get New Music Friday or the big playlist addition,” said Harber. “It’s almost an artificial boost in streams. What matters is how many people stick around and listen to your music for the weeks after. If you get an enormous spike and then all those people disappear, it’s effectively useless.”
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Manager Sarah Stennett pushes back on data focus
First Access Entertainment CEO Sarah Stennett gave a manager’s view in her Midem keynote, including some brisk words for the industry’s emphasis on data. “I know catalogues do well statistically on streaming platforms, but for me and my business, I think it is really important that you look outside of the stats,” she said. “Once you start focusing on statistics, you miss what’s happening and what things are going on in a place where there aren’t even stats available… For me, if there are a lot of stats, then it’s probably too late. What we’re interested in as business and what really excites me is ‘too early’. ‘Too early’ is when artists need support and if they don’t get that support could lose their way and won’t have any hope of becoming an iconic rock star.”
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Music Ally is a partner for the Midemlab startups contest, helping in the process of choosing the 20 finalists. In Cannes, we reported on each of the four category-pitching sessions, and were impressed by what we saw and heard.

Music creation and education category
HumOn won this with its app that turns people’s humming into music – in the style of their choice. The app has been in beta-testing for a year on Google Play, with 300k downloads so far “without any marketing activities”. CEO David Choi explained that while users can share their tracks on various social networks, they also have the option to buy the copyright so they can use the music commercially. The other finalists were Roadie 2, Studytracks, Uberchord and Skoog.
Read our full session report

Music discovery and distribution category
Truelinked won the music discovery and distribution category. CEO Sune Hjerrild described it as a “procial network” for classical musicians and artistic directors, cutting out the agent middlemen. “Our mission is to create a transparent industry and give back power to the people who perform and produce classical music… to become the Google of performing arts,” he said. The other finalists were Disco, Atmosphere, Yokee Music and Diggers Factory.
Read our full session report

Music marketing and data/analytics category
Soundcharts won the marketing and data/analytics category for its analytics platform for artists and labels. “We make the experience very personal: you can customise your preferences, your notifications,” said CEO David Weiszfeld. “We’re one of the first technical companies in music that’s built by music professionals,” he added. “That’s a big asset for us.” The other finalists were Rotor Videos, NPREX, The Bot Platform and Instrumental.
Read our full session report

Experiential Tech category
Vinci Smart Headphones won the experiential tech category, for its headphones that come with AI and voice-control built in. “We’re really looking to focus in creating a strong brand and brand awareness,” said US business director Cathy Cao. “And also creating a strong social connection.” Vinci is hoping to open its platform up in the next three years, and ultimately reach 10 million monthly active users. The other finalists were ORB, TheWaveVR, Pacemaker and SYOS.
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Midemlab alumni session talks startups and labels
A panel session of Midemlab alumni from past contests talked about the impact the event had on their businesses. The panel included Josquin Farge from Soundsgood; Bernd Kopin from Mimi Hearing Technologies; and Liat Sade-Sternberg from Fusic. Sade-Sternberg was blunt in her assessment of the music industry’s relationship with startups. “We should find a better way to bridge between startups and entrepreneurs and the music industry… The leading labels are eager to try new technology, but it gets tapped when you are starting to speak about licensing issues and how to promote the campaign… Everything is going much slower than other entertainment segments: sports, movies… we can launch promotions much easier. It’s a matter of vision and focus. If a traditional company such as Coca-Cola could bring new innovations, could launch campaigns in two or three months, there is no doubt a record label could do the same.”
Read our full session report


We’ve always strived to report the ‘value gap’ debate around YouTube, safe harbour and copyright reform fairly: presenting and comparing the views of both sides. It was a shame that only one side got to have their say in Midem’s value-gap-focused sessions: the views of industry bodies are undeniably important to hear, but even if YouTube wasn’t interested in speaking, perhaps some of the musicians and companies building businesses on that platform could have rounded out the debate. Anyway…

The European perspective on music’s ‘value gap’
A Midem panel organised by Euro industry bodies BVMI, FIMI and SNEP to discuss the ‘value gap’ held few surprises in terms of the strong views that safe-harbour legislation needs reform. “No one here is against YouTube. We are partners with companies like YouTube, but we need to work in the same way. Streaming is a boat in which everyone should row in the same direction,” said FIMI boss Enzo Mazza. BVMI boss Dr Florian Drücke didn’t mince his words on the recent GEMA/YouTube settlement, meanwhile. “We have to say that it’s a scandal that the settlement has been made under circumstances where YouTube is not accepting to be accountable for licensing the content… As a lawyer, I would have liked to have seen the courts decide on the question of whether YouTube is a content provider or a mere host provider in Germany.”
Read our full session report

Is the ‘value gap’ debate anywhere near a resolution?
Midem’s second panel on the ‘value gap’, like its first, focused on the rightsholder side of the debate. “Let’s be absolutely clear, YouTube is not radio – it is the biggest on-demand service around,” said IFPI director of legal policy and licensing Lauri Rechardt. “People do not go there to discover music. They go there to listen to music they already know… It should be up to the rightsowners to decide how they promote their music – not one service deciding for them.” BMG’s Götz von Einem noted the widening out of this debate beyond YouTube. “What Facebook is doing at the moment is they are providing the platform that lets users upload the videos and yet they are not creating as much [money] as YouTube. Let’s put it that way.” MMF boss Annabella Coldrick agreed. “It is going to be fascinating because, at the moment, we are paying Facebook to reach our fans. At least from YouTube we get some money – even if it’s not very much!”
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What can blockchain really do for the music biz?
On the more positive side of copyright issues, there was a panel of blockchain experts digging in to how the technology might be useful for music. Moderated by lawyer Sophie Goossens, it saw Bailer Music Publishing’s Benjamin Bailer; Sacem’s Xavier Costaz; Dot Blockchain’s Benji Rogers; Jaak’s Vaughn McKenzie; and Mycelia’s Carlotta de Ninni. “Blockchains force action… If I were to make a statement about a work that I own in a blockchain, and I were to send it to you Sophie, you have three choices: yes it’s correct and I agree, no it’s not correct, or ignore it, which means it’s correct,” said Rogers. “What blockchain may bring to the table is something you cannot ignore, because ignoring it is the same as accepting what’s there on the table is truth… A blockchain-based system at scale could force people to work with it, in a way that exposes them to decentralisation and transparency, arguably whether they like it or not.”
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AI for co-creation – but possibly also for competition
A ‘Midem Wrap’ panel discussing the themes of the conference proved sparky, with Warp Records’ Grant Bussinger; Unicum Music’s Emily Gonneau; Hospital Records’ Romy Harber; and Whitesmith Entertainment’s Emily White. AI composition came up. “The way we use AI for co-creation, and also creation. The question is why do we need AI to create music?.. What are we trying to achieve here?” as Gonneau put it. White talked about AI competing with humans to provide backing music for TV, games and other content. “If you’re a human and you’re negotiating against an AI, you can get AI for a fraction of the price!” she said. But Bussinger was optimistic. “Our artists have been using AI and making AI music for decades! Brian Eno, Squarepusher, Autechre: all of them have experimented with it, they love it, they think it’s an amazingly enabling technology to express themselves…”
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Magic words of A&R: storytelling and market knowledge
A panel with Vidhi Gandhi (A&R at Ninja Tune); Patrik Larsson (A&R at Playground Scandinavia); Daniel Miller (founder and chairman of Mute; and Thaddeus Rudd (co-president and co-founder, Mom+Pop), and moderated by journalist Rhian Jones. “One thing about Spotify is that it is very faceless and very artist-less. There are a lot of tracks on top of each other and lots of covers included in playlists. You can have a hit with a song with millions of streams, but no one knows who the artists is,” said Larsson. Meanwhile Gandhi talked about India. “We have definitely have started putting more effort into doing bespoke stuff with Apple Music [in India] around Bonobo releases as we know he can sell 4,000 tickets in India,” she said. “These guys are going there and playing these festivals. That is not something we can ignore. And there are streaming services coming up there. Spotify has been reluctant to [launch there]. But there are local streaming services like Saavn.”
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Def Jam’s Steve Bartels on Kanye calls
Def Jam Recordings CEO Steve Bartels can’t switch off at holiday periods, in case one of his artists has a burst of creative energy. Like Kanye West. “When he is ready to go, he makes a phone call and it’s go time,” he said of how West operates. “We don’t always get a warning. I have taken a call on New Year’s Eve where he wanted to put a song up on iTunes at midnight – and the call was that morning. There were a lot of people who work at these companies who are gone for the holidays. But we try and make it work. That’s what we do. We are here to help the artists…”
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EC’s Martine Reicherts talks Europe and music
The European Commission’s Martine Reicherts filled the Midem keynote gap left by LA Reid, outlining her vision for a music-business equivalent of the EU’s MEDIA program, which supports the European film and audiovisual industries. “We have started to work on a programme whereby we would have a similar MEDIA programme for music,” she said, adding that it has three years to talk to the industry to decide what to put in this programme. “This is not a quick fix and we will not save the world immediately. But in three years’ time we can make it better. The plan is to replicate the success story of MEDIA… We would like to create a specific European programme to support the music sector. We have our programme supporting the movies. Can’t we do the same for music?”
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Life as a young European indie label in 2017
A panel with Andreas Ryser of Mouthwatering Records; Nikola Jovanovic of Lampshade Media; Nis Bysted of Escho and Michel Peek of Bravoure Music, moderated by IMPALA’s Didier Gosset. “Developments in the last 15 years, we are seeing it easier to become a label,” said Peek. “It’s literally making an account on YouTube and you are a label. But it is more difficult to break an artist or break a career.” Jovanovic: “Competition is tough and it’s getting fierce. But that’s something. People have started giving advances again – which they didn’t do three years ago. That means something has changed in the business.”
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Breaking a music artist in America in 2017
A panel with Bureau Export’s Michele Amar; Lionsgate’s John Katovsich; BMG’s Andreas Katsambas; and the US Department of Commerce’s Andrea Da Silva, moderated by Fiona Bloom. “A lot of American audiences want to literally understand what they are listening to,” said Da Silva of the issues that non-English speaking acts face in the US. “There is definitely a demand for English-language content… The US is a market where you want to sing in English. I like to hear foreign language but I haven’t seen that take up in the US like it has in other markets…”
Read our full session report

Music Ally’s Midem 2017 coverage was supported this year by Music is GREAT, the British government’s campaign to promote UK music exports.

The UK and British Music were represented through the British Music at Midem stand, with the Department for International Trade joining forces with music industry associations AIM (Association of Independent Music), BPI (British Phonographic Industry), MPA (Music Publishers Association), PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) and PRS for Music.

Together, they supported over 150 UK music businesses and member delegates as they sought to pick up on the latest trends, connect with international companies, sign deals and develop trading and export opportunities.

Stuart Dredge

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