From blockchain and bots to Run The Jewels and digital marketing trends, it’s been another busy day at the Midem conference in Cannes. Here’s our roundup of our coverage from the day’s sessions.
A panel on blockchain technology explored what the real potential might be for the music industry, with some warnings included. 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 in 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.”
The day’s first session focused on digital marketing trends, with an introduction by Music Ally’s own Wesley A’Harrah, followed by 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.
““You should focus and think about what you’d do if you don’t get New Music Friday or the big playlist addition… 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,” said Harber.
Harber also talked about video. “We’ve moved away from doing narrative, big-budget music videos. I personally don’t see the value in them any more… it’s not the MTV era any more,” he said. “We now focus on video content: Q&As, tutorials, tour videos… I encourage artists to film themselves while they’re away. And then you can segment that down and post little bits throughout the campaign.”
The session on rap duo Run The Jewels was one of the best of this Midem, in our opinion. manager Amaechi Uzoigwe from Monotone, and marketing agency The Other Hand’s Zena White provided an insight into the band’s rise – and the values that have propelled it.
What’s important is the music, the fans, and making sure you’re compensated fairly for the work that you do… If you don’t have good content, and if you don’t have an audience that cares about it, what’s the point? So for us, that relationship with the fans is sacrosanct… their fans are everything. And so long as you give your fans something of value, they’re going to repay you,” said Uzoigwe.
White talked about Run The Jewels’ habit of giving their albums away 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. 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,” she said.
Uzoigwe: “People mistake tactics for strategy. There are tactics all over the place. ‘We can do this! We can do this!’ Sure you can, but what’s the strategic underpin to your gameplan?”
Hundreds of thousands of music fans are already interacting with their favourite artists through bots on messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. So how might this trend develop in 2017 and beyond?
A panel today explored the trend. Moderated by Music x Tech x Future’s Bas Grasmayer, it included 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.”
A wrap panel this afternoon discussed some of the trends that have emerged over the course of this week’s conference. Moderated by Reed Midem’s James Martin, the panel included Warp Records’ Grant Bussinger; Unicum Music’s Emily Gonneau; Hospital Records’ Romy Harber; and Whitesmith Entertainment’s Emily White.
White said fewer artists are grumbling about streaming. “It’s really about owning and controlling your rights, and having partners who are transparent… Hang on to your rights, understand your rights. But we’re all for streaming: we want music to be in as many places as possible.”
Gonneau talked about AI.“We’ve been talking about it a lot in terms of music curation for playlists,” she said. “There’s a bit of a debate here about whether it’s going to be robots or humans that win this. But for me, the second stage is where the potential challenge is: 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?”
Music Ally’s other day-three Midem coverage
Latin star Daddy Yankee talks ‘the power of digital’
Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht talks streaming in 2017
Is the ‘value gap’ debate anywhere near a resolution?
Def Jam CEO Steve Bartels talks artists and marketing
We’ve also been vox-popping a range of Midem attendees from UK-based companies, as part of our partnership with the Music Is GREAT initiative:
Music Ally’s Midem 2017 coverage is supported this year by Music is GREAT, the British government’s campaign to promote UK music exports.
The UK and British Music are 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 will support over 150 UK music businesses and member delegates as they seek to pick up on the latest trends, connect with international companies, sign deals and develop trading and export opportunities.