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Digital Music Energy Shifts to Cannes, MidemNet

January 23, 2007

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The action this weekend was in Cannes, France, the setting for another edition of MidemNet.

The digital music conference, once a small warm-up to the larger Midem, grabbed a healthy, international crowd and several notable speakers.  And of course, few could argue with a backdrop of the French Riviera and its distinctively sassy attitude.

At the Palais de Festivales, attendees rubbed elbows with a number of heavy-hitters, including Rob Glaser, Chris Anderson, and Terry McBride, all present to help navigate the current chaos that is the digital music industry.  As usual, the Midem conference dovetails the NRJ Music Awards, what Americans would refer to as the “French Grammys”.

The ceremony drew superstars like Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Christina Aguilera, and Lionel Ritchie, a nice injection of celebrity.  The result was a rather energized resort community, despite the off-peak and somewhat chilly season.

Ted Cohen, now head of Los Angeles-based consultancy TAG Strategic, headed MidemNet once again this year.  That lent a level of familiarity and offbeat levity to the proceedings, while frequent moderator Ralph Simon offered a strong knowledge base.

So what was the mood?  A sense of realism surrounded a great deal of the discussions, though attendees were deeply divided on where this industry is going.  Will consumers pay for music in the future?  A strong contingent argued that digital recordings are not something that will court revenues down the line, though leading digital players argued passionately against that sentiment.

Other questions were equally divisive, but everyone agreed that this industry is moving incredibly fast, and newer arenas like virtual worlds grabbed a major chunk of the discussion.  After hours, attendees dropped by hangouts like the Majestic, Martinez, or the Carlton for some deal-making, while others let loose at a number of different parties.

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