Where to start?
Why don’t we begin with some Superbowl madness? With an all-American sponsor like Pepsi backing Midem, there was no escaping the Superbowl, even in France. While we could talk American football for hours, the biggest American sports event of the year traditionally is a musical extravaganza as well. Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers headlined this year’s famous half-time show and many of the high-profile commercials aired during the game featured big artists (Bob Dylan & Chrysler, U2 & RED). And although we enjoyed Superbowl Sunday like we actually understood the game, we did of course not come down to the Riviera to watch football. Instead, we spent the weekend getting inspired, soaking up knowledge and exchanging lots and lots of business cards.
One thing we noticed during our Midem visit is the distinctively positive wind sweeping through the music industry. The numbers are back in the black, which has turned the frown upside down. Music marketing and technology run the game these days and it definitely showed in Cannes. Marc Geiger, Head of Music Department WME estimates that the many new business models (streaming, ad-share on YouTube, etc) will boost revenue in the music industry from 16.6 billion USD to over 100 billion USD. But the multi-million - or should we say multi-billion - dollar question is, how do we make it all sustainable?
IT’S ALL ABOUT SCALE
Streaming is the name of the game in 2014 and major players such as Spotify and Deezer wage a fierce battle for world streaming domination. While streaming has as many advocates as adversaries, there’s no denying the positive effect and clear long-term vision these services bring to the table. Even more so when taking into account that the likes of Spotify consider it their mission to promote new music and artists. And in doing so, securing the future of our industry.
“When 20% of the French population has a streaming subscription, we’re back to where we were in our hay days of the nineties”, says Pascal Nègre (CEO Universal Music France). Change begins with acceptation. When the compact disc was introduced back in the eighties, the world didn’t run to MediaMarkt to trade in their cassette deck for a CD-player. But in the long run, consumers adapt which in this context means they’re getting used to all-you-can-eat subscriptions. Netflix is a great example of how the unknown can quickly become the indispensible.
But the rapid growth of streaming isn’t all beer and Skittles. For every hit played there are hundreds of thousands of songs that no one has ever listened to. Enter initiatives like Forgotify, tapping into this limbo of forsaken tracks, promoting 4 million songs that have never been played on Spotify. You can only imagine the painstaking number of musical gems in there, gone to waste.
“YOUTUBE IS THE BIGGEST PIRATE OF THEM ALL”
Both YouTube and Google sent keynote speakers to Cannes. Judging by the mixed emotions in the music industry towards these giants, size clearly can’t buy you love. Take Axel Dauchez for example. Deezer’s CEO called YouTube the biggest pirate in the music industry. While sitting next to YouTube’s Head of Strategic Partnerships. Reason for Dauchez’ accusation is the fact that for a long time YouTube hasn’t paid out fees and royalties to rights holders and isn’t actively fighting music ripping. In YouTube’s defence, the video platform has paid out over a billion euros to date. So you can’t really say they’re being completely cheap.
But video platforms aren’t just about playing music videos. Just like YouTube, VEVO is focusing more and more on channel programming and content production. ‘VEVO Lift’ is a great example. For eight weeks in a row, VEVO Lift highlights a single artist and creates unique content around that artist that is pushed to the consumer – and quite successfully, we might add. Thanks to VEVO Lift, Rita Ora has seen her following on Facebook and Twitter double to a cool 3 million. Could VEVO be the next MTV? Rita just might think so.
No matter how you cut it, for the majority of teenagers YouTube is still the go-to platform to consume music. If you’re not on YouTube, your audience won’t be able to find you. Moreover, for many artists YouTube is one of the most important sources of income. So if you can’t beat them, join them.
THE TEKKIES ARE COMING
Apart from sales figures, numbers in general are increasingly dictating music marketing. While back in the day it was all about the size of your Rolodex, what counts in 2014 is meta data. Which opens up a whole new field for tech-developers and revenue streams for artists and rights holders. Main sponsor Pepsi tapped into this sign of the times by bringing more to Midem than cash. The New York cola brand had a big hand in MidemLab – a tech lab for start-ups. In the run-up to Cannes, Pepsi supported the finalists in a Dragon’s Den-like way. MidemLab winners received legal counselling from Pepsi to further develop their creations.
And the 2014 MidemLab winners are:
Direct-to-consumer marketing & content monetisation
Weezic, an augmented sheet music app.
Marketing & social engagement
Starlize, a simple way to make your own music videos to existing tracks.
Coup de Coeur, Jury Award
Cubic.fm, a social app within Deezer and soon also in Spotify that lets you connect music to memories and places.
Check out all pitch presentations right here.
Pepsi wasn’t the only one laying down a challenge. Music Hack Day organised a competition that gave contestants 48 hours to come with an app and build it. The undisputed winner was the Spotify DJ app, which turns your computer into a turntable with every possible mixing option.
Another Midem case we really appreciated was the Kaiser Virus app. A clever and disruptive way to promote the new album of the Norwegian and slightly obscure band Kaiser Orchestra.
BRANDS HAVE CUSTOMERS AND NEED FANS. ARTISTS HAVE FANS AND NEED CUSTOMERS.
Marketeers are increasingly turning to the music industry to get their brand message across. We’ve seen some great cases to support this trend, the Betties being the most inspiring one. This sympathetic Belgian campaign has made a big contribution in lifting the taboo of Alzheimer’s disease. Star of this campaign is a group of elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s – De Betties - that formed the unlikely support act for Muse at their Antwerp gig. Break out the tissues, this is one’s a tearjerker.
Cases like this prove that once two separate universes, the worlds of brands and music are starting to merge and better understand one and other. And at MassiveMusic we’re very happy to be a small part of this convergence by bringing brands and artists together.
OUR FAVOURITE KEYNOTES OF #MIDEM14
1. Olivier François (CMO Chrysler & Fiat Group Automobiles) on the power of music in commercials and how collaborations with artists can result in win-win situations.
Be sure to check out the story behind the new Fiat commercial at 20:50, scored with Pharell’s hit ‘Happy’.
2. Lyor Cohen (Founder & CEO 300). A chat between two heavyweights from the hip-hop industry. Brilliant anecdotes from the early days of DefJam and Run-DMC. Cohen also talks about his new ‘record label of the future’ (from 25:00 and onwards).
3. Marc Geiger (Global Head of Music WME). On the future of the music industry. What are the new business models and how much money will they bring in. Gets particularly interesting around 10:30, where Geiger discusses some mind-blowing projections.
SUMMING IT ALL UP
After four days of music, keynotes, workshops and drinks, we’ve seen and heard a lot of interesting and inspiring things. If we’ve learned anything in Cannes this year, it’s that the music industry has reached a turning point. More precisely, here’s what we took with us on the plane.
- The music industry revolves more and more around data and rights monetisation. This in turn makes it an enormous playground of opportunities for techies.
- Music isn’t the only thing that matters any more. New labels like 300 by former DefJam CEO Lyor Cohen consider themselves to be broadcasters rather than labels. Which makes investors at Google and Twitter take notice.
- As a musician, you have to be an artist, a marketeer and an entrepreneur. You’re expected to find creative ways to stay in touch with your fans and changing business models demand a keen business eye.
And that’s it for Midem14. If it’s discovering new artists, that rough rock ‘n roll edge and lots and lots of music you’re into, you’re probably better off going to conferences like ADE, SXSW and Eurosonic. That said, we’ve had a great and inspiring weekend and we’ll definitely be back next year to find out how fast things can progress in twelve months time. But luckily we won’t have to wait that long to come back to the Croisette. With spring around the corner, it’ll be June before you can say “Cannes Lions MassiveMusic & MediaMonks Party”. Hope to see you there!
Ps. Stay tuned for our SXWS Recap in spring.
‘Feel The Rhythm’, Def La Desh
‘What’s Going On’, Marvin Gaye
Making the cut