High and low notes as Midem comes to close

Confab reflects new biz landscape

CANNES -- The 42nd edition of Midem wraps Thursday with delegates attending the international music conference and market still talking about the PR fiasco of the new online service Qtrax and U2 manager Paul McGuinness' attack on ISPs.

Organizers said attendance was down 200 from the year before -- to 9,100 -- but the number of countries represented held steady at 91 and 4,550 companies were on hand, about the same as in 2007.

Midem director Dominique Leguern said Wednesday that the lower attendance was "normal given what the industry is going through."

"Most of the decrease was from the physical side of the industry -- distributors and record labels," she said. "Some have closed and some don't come every year because they don't have the money to spend and have nothing to sell."

Everyone was lying low on the subject of Qtrax, which launched its free and legal peer-to-peer music download service without actually signing up any of the four major labels, although it does have publishing support. Sources said that the Qtrax people were close to deals with the majors but had failed to invite them to their big Midem party. One insider said that it was the surprise announcement that prompted Warner Music Group to become the only major to publicly comment on the new service.

McGuinness' speech Monday morning called on ISPs to guard against illegal music downloads. It was well received by all sides of the industry and was on everyone's lips later that night at the bash celebrating Peter Gabriel's personality of the year honor.

In respect to Midem itself, Leguern insisted that the quality of attendance had been good, with high-profile conferences, keynote speakers and concerts. "There was growth in the sectors that we are very interested in and will continue to pursue," she said. "The digital side was up by 19%, live music by 18% and management by 2%."

Observing that the shape of the value chain in the industry has changed dramatically over the past five years, Leguern said: "We have to develop as the landscape changes. Our goal is to have every sector in the global market, and we are working very hard to bring in Asian markets."

The most represented countries at Midem were the U.K., the U.S., France, Germany, Canada and Italy.