MIDEM 2011

Hello and welcome to Jari’s report on MIDEM 2011 from Cannes, France. MIDEM is the most important annual trade fair for the international music business. The event was organized this week for the 45th time.

The value of the global recorded music sales fell 8,7% in 2010

IFPI released on January 21 the global sales figures for digital music in 2010. For now, digital channels account for 29% of the overall recorded music revenues, but the global digital trade value of $4.6 billion was up only 6%. At the same time the global value of recorded music sales fell 8,7% to $15.86m as the physical sales were down 15%. The report explains the modest digital growth numbers, for example, by referring to the state of piracy, the importance of Internet service provider (ISP) responsibility, and the need for content protection and government support. The optimists read these figures as a proof of an ongoing transition period from ownership model (digital downloads and CDs) towards the access model (various streaming services), whereas the pessimists remark that the current level may be the highest the digital music market will ever get. One reference point is the fact that mobile apps business has passed digital music with the sales of $5,2 billion in 2010.

Global repertoire database

The discussions concerning the challenges of licensing cross-border online music services have been an essential part of the MIDEM for several years. This year the hottest topic was the global repertoire database, which should be the cornerstone of the more efficient pan-European or even global licensing system. The various stakeholders’ common interests and the push made by the European Commission seem to have finally put the project in real motion. However, many key questions such as who will control the database, who will be responsible for the maintenance and development of the database, and who will bear the costs are still unanswered. One solution to the key problems is the proposal that the database would be hosted in a way or another by WIPO.

DDEX gets new major members

Another necessary element of the online music business is the metadata standardization. The most important stakeholders have co-operated in this matter under the DDEX banner. In addition to the earlier members such as Apple, Nokia, Telefónica, and some major labels and collecting societies DDEX inked some very noteworthy deals in France.  That includes Google, EMI Music, and Omniphone, all three of whom are now participating the DDEX standardization program and the board.  That fits the spirit of the metadata organization, which is largely treated as a partnership among contributing members. DDEX indicated that digital music companies are increasingly demanding compliance from content suppliers.

Emphasis on the music-related online services

In addition to the actual music delivery services MIDEM put spotlight also on various kinds of music-related online services. For example, social games have great potential for new revenues sources and other benefits to the troubled music industry. In one of the most popular panel sessions it was revealed that, for example, Booyah’s Nightclub City game had 1.2 million daily users at its peak, and has generated more than two million likes for artists running marketing campaigns within it. MXP4’s Facebook music game for David Guetta has attracted one million users. Meanwhile, virtual music world SongHi has 40,000 registered users creating music, who have made 70,000 songs that have been listened to more than 500,000 times in total. The panel also pondered why the biggest social games publishers like Zynga have not done much with music. The experts told that these companies update their games on daily basis, and any content that would require approval from labels and publishers would slow down that process.

What will the future MIDEM look like?

Many MIDEM veterans predicted that the hard times will take its toll, and many of this year’s participants will not be around next year in Cannes. At the same time it was not hard to notice that the emphasis of MIDEM is moving from traditional record label and publishing business towards new business models and online services. In order to stay in business MIDEM have to develop and find new ways to serve the new players in music business in order to stay in music trade fair business themselves.

Jari Muikku participated MIDEM for the 20th time.

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