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NOVEMBER 2021 midem.com

9 | BUSINESS Warner Music Group’s Oana Ruxandra on new ways of monetising music

26 | IDEAS TikTok’s Ole Obermann on how the platform is breathing new life into old songs

27 | TALENT Producer and DJ Steve Aoki, Midem Digital Edition’s Artist Ambassador

39 | INNOVATION Raised In Space’s Shara Senderoff on NFTs and the music business


‘Welcome to Midem Digital Edition 2021’ Embrace The New Monetisation Frontiers is the theme for this year’s Midem Digital Edition. The 2021 online event runs from November 16 to 19, presenting a packed programme of highprofile keynotes, artist showcases and talks, the music-tech startup competition Midemlab, live workshops and networking sessions. Midem director Alexandre Deniot addresses some of the key issues facing the industry ahead of the event… What new monetisation opportunities are coming on-stream, and how can the industry benefit from them? Music’s global revenues fell to a worrying low in 2014. following years of decline in physical and download sales. But that was also the turnaround year and even with the pandemic, by last year revenues had returned to 2001 levels — a little over $20bn. Our exclusive line-up of speakers will address in detail these various issues during the four days of our 2021 Midem Digital Edition. Streaming is key to this revival but there are other new technologies and business models that will continue not just this recovery, but also real growth. Social, the growing NFT business and gaming are key factors in future monetisation potential.

Well, for example, we are very excited about our partnership with the Taiwan Creative Content Agency. Last month, five remarkable Taiwanese musicians — Ozi, Chih Siou, Trout Fresh, Shi Shi Sun and Starr Chen — collaborated with a number of international producers and artists including Dutch singer-songwriter Rico Greene and French composer Kozbeatz, to create some new, original music. Those songs will be presented during a Songwriting Camp session during Midem Digital Edition. We also have superstar DJ/producer Steve Aoki who will give a keynote presentation — and will take part in the Midem Talent Exporter programme, where 12 chosen artists will get the chance to talk with Steve in an exclusive live session — which will be available on demand the day after it happens. These are just two examples of how talent crucially remains at the forefront of everything we do.

Where do these sectors fit into the music ecosystem? With social, as established and emerging platforms sign licensing deals, they are generating revenue streams, for example, from clips used in UGC and UCC. Many artists will want to follow French rapper Booba into the world of NFTs. Booba sold his video clip TN in the form of NFTs which earned him 150 ETH – a cryptocurrency that has since grown in value increasing his earnings for that project alone to over €600,000. The subject of NFTs in music will be explored during a Midem Digital Edition session with Canadian DJ, producer and musician DeadMau5. And in gaming, we are seeing partnerships that have led to virtual concerts being held in Fortnite and Roblox — and licensing deals with console and mobile games, which are expanding the long-established sync business. These and other monetisation opportunities will be explained in detail during our keynote and conference programmes, which feature leading players in these and other fields.

As it moves further online through the year and mixes virtual and actual events into its offer, how is Midem’s role evolving as the industry continues to go through change? Most important is that the Midem digital platform has allowed our artists and music professionals to stay connected worldwide, year-round — for example enabling some 200,000 connection recommendations, and engaging some 16,000 participants from 152 countries. This is crucial as digital evolves and continues to change the industry at a rapid pace. The truly global nature of Midem now — as illustrated, for example, by our Midem Latin America and Africa events — is crucial for an industry whose international barriers have all but disappeared, the result of the digital revolution. Once again, during our 2021 edition, participants will see how Midem is keeping ahead of so many industry changes, providing the knowledge, understanding and business intelligence for those who aim to move at pace as the music industry evolves. n

Creativity, talent and performance have always been important elements of Midem. What can we expect from Midem Digital Edition this year? MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS



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‘There are so many women who rock today’

After a boost from the pandemic livestreaming is here to stay





There will be ‘no music on a dead planet’

New allies assure a strong future for the music industry




Is there a fairer way for streamers to pay artists?



Industry organisations aim to help indies ‘adapt to the virtual world’





Avatars, NFTs, livestreaming… the lawyers have got work to do

‘If it’s good, it’s good and that’s all that matters’





Old hits are enjoying new success, but it’s the public that decides

Digital tools offering a credible alternative to traditional labels


‘Artists never know where their fans might come from’








‘Do the work, develop your sound and forget about money’




Plans for ‘a new cultural area’ for Europe



‘We need to keep the pace – the industry needs tech partners’

A place ‘to get excited and inspired’




Musicians are assured: artificial intelligence won’t take your job



‘It’s a pretty awesome time for new artists’


Overpriced? Eco-unfriendly? What can NFTs do for music?

NOVEMBER 2021 midem.com DIRECTOR OF PUBLICATIONS Michel Filzi EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT EDITOR IN CHIEF Julian Newby DEPUTY EDITOR Debbie Lincoln HEAD OF GRAPHIC STUDIO Herve Traisnel GRAPHIC STUDIO MANAGER Frederic Beauseigneur CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Stuart Dredge, Juliana Koranteng, Gary Smith EDITORIAL MANAGEMENT Boutique Editions Ltd. PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Martin Screpel PUBLISHING MANAGER Amrane Lamiri RX France, a French joint stock company with a capital of 90,000,000 euros, having its registered offices at 52 Quai de Dion Bouton 92800 Puteaux, France, registered with the Nanterre Trade and Companies Register under n°410 219 364 - VAT number: FR92 410 219 364. Contents © 2021, RX France Market Publications.




SINCE 2011,


(Vanguard of Independent Publishers),

initiated by SACEM with CSDEM, MIDEM, CNM and YACAST supports and promotes during major musical events (fairs, festivals), the work of three YOUNG INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS each year.



After a boost from the pandemic livestreaming is here to stay From the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdowns, artists turned to livestreaming as a way to play for their fans, and chat to them as well. Stuart Dredge reports

Deezer’s Jeronimo Folgueira

Jeronimo Folgueira: “I believe that live and ondemand streaming complement each other perfectly”


OUTUBE, Facebook, Instagram and Twitch saw the bulk of the COVID-led livestreaming activity. But a number of tech startups also emerged to help musicians hold more ambitious online concerts. The scale and ambition has only grown since then, with major artists including BTS, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and Gorillaz — as well as prominent events like the Glastonbury Festival — launching ticketed video streams, either live or pre-recorded. This has intersected with another trend: the growing number of music performances appearing within games and virtual worlds including Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft and Oculus Venues, the VR space run by Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook. “It took 10 years to evolve from CDs to streaming and only 10 months to shift to the livestream model,” says Fabrice Sergent, managing partner at Bandsintown, in Midem’s exclusive Livestreaming & Virtual Live Experiences white paper, published earlier this year. In that same report, Twitch’s vice-president of music, Tracy Chan, said that it has been “inspiring to see the resilience of the industry and how artists and venues have embraced live streaming”. In the summer and autumn of 2021, physical concerts and some festivals have returned, with organisers tackling challenges ranging from securing the necessary insurance to devising suitable entry policies regarding vaccinations and/or COVID-19 testing. This does not mean that livestreaming will go away again. It has the potential to remain a key part of the music ecosystem, not to mention the revenue streams of artists. MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Twitch’s Tracy Chan

In preparation for this new hybrid live economy, 2021 has seen a wave of consolidation and investment within the livestreaming tech world. One recent example of the latter was a $122m funding round raised by British firm Dice, which has evolved from a mobile ticketing app into a key player in the livestreams space. Its CEO, Phil Hutcheon, has spoken about how streams will sit alongside physical concerts in the future. “We’re also seeing that big artists want to play more intimate rooms. They can play the arenas on their tour, but they still like to play to 2,000-3,000-capacity rooms,” Hutcheon said in September. “So you’ll see more of them doing that for livestreams and they can actually make as much profit from playing the smaller show as they would from the arena show, with the livestreaming revenue.” Consolidation in 2021 has included Live Nation investing in livestreaming startup Veeps, and US firm Mandolin acquiring rival NoonChorus. The other livestreaming trend to watch in 2022 is how streaming services step up their own efforts. Amazon Music has integrated sister service Twitch into its app to host artist livestreams; Spotify held its first ticketed online concerts in May and June; and Deezer has invested in startups Dreamstage and Driift. “I believe that live and on-demand streaming complement each other perfectly. We want to make sure that we’re part of the evolution of livestreaming and the fast growth we’re going to see in this space,” Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira says. n 7


Another reason to love your fans With SoundCloud’s fan-powered royalties, you get paid based on how much your dedicated fans listen. The big payout pools that benefited megastars are a thing of the past. We’re changing up the game so that all artists can win and connect with their fans.

Find out what this means for you at fanpoweredroyalties.com


New allies assure a strong future for music industry T

HE RECORDED music industry’s struggles in the early years of this century are well documented, with global revenues falling from $23.6bn in 2001 to a nadir of $14m in 2014 — a loss of nearly 41% of the market’s value. However, as streaming’s impact finally began to outweigh the decline in physical and download sales, the industry returned to growth, with even COVID-hit 2020 seeing annual growth of 7.4% growth, taking the market back to $21.6bn. Streaming may be the driver of this comeback, but the wider context is the music industry’s willingness to embrace new technologies, new business models, and an ever-widening array of platforms and startups with which to collaborate. For the industry’s largest companies, the major labels, a trio of new monetisation frontiers stand out in particular: social, fitness and gaming. Social is a category that includes the most established social networks and apps like Facebook (now Meta), Instagram and Snapchat, as well as emerging platforms like Twitch and TikTok. As these companies have signed licensing deals, so they have started to generate meaningful revenue for the music industry from user-generated content, with fans able to use music clips in their posts. In Universal Music Group’s first earnings call after going public, in October, its executive vice-president of digital strategy, Michael Nash, says that video and social platforms “represent about two thirds of total ad supported business for Universal Music, and they’re both growing really fast”. Nash says that while the music industry has traditionally thought of ad-supported music as simply “a customer-acquisition tool, a lower-value substitute for subscription” in the audio streaming world, now it is emerging as an exciting growth area in its own right. “With the evolution of social and video, music is now endemically tied to the growth of large global platforms. We’re very excited about that and we think there’s inherent growth potential there.” Twitch is an example of a new platform that is establishing itself as a new revenue model for music, where streamers broadcast for free, supported by ads, but also make money from viewers paying for channel subscriptions and for “bits and cheers” — Twitch’s tipping economy. In April, Twitch commissioned a study from former Spotify chief economist Will Page on how its “rockonomics” work. “It’s live, everything else is on-demand. It’s long [form], everything else is short. It’s first-party and user-created content, not user-generated content. UCC not UGC,” Page says. “Twitch is like driving a taxi. If you’re not driving the cab, the meter doesn’t move. On Spotify you can make money while you’re asleep [because people are streaming your music] but Twitch is

Roblox’ avatar lineup

Streaming, new tech and new business models have conspired finally to take the music industry out of a slump that set in a couple of decades ago. Back then the industry seemed to be in terminal decline but, as Stuart Dredge reports, you can’t stop the music MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS




Universal Music Group’s Michael Nash

Warner Music Group’s Oana Ruxandra

Will Page : “On Spotify you can make money while you’re asleep, but Twitch is very different to that”

Peloton has doubled down on music partnerships

very different to that. If you don’t grind away on your livestreaming channel, you don’t make money. Live [concerts] work that way as well.” Fitness is the second new frontier that is exciting labels in 2021, buoyed by the growth of Peloton (worth more than $27bn at the start of November), the emergence of Apple Fitness+ and a thriving ecosystem of fitness-tech startups — all of which use music as a crucial element in their services. Peloton in particular has doubled down on music partnerships, including expanding its deal with Beyoncé in October 2021 to create a new series of workout classes featuring her music. Meanwhile, one of the first moves made by Facebook after its recent corporate rebranding as Meta was to acquire startup Within, developer of music-driven virtual reality fitness service Supernatural. That was already one of the first VR fitness apps to license music from major labels. Its founders said the acquisition will bring “even more music, more creative ways to work out, more features and more social experiences for VR”. This is an example of the win-win scenario that the music industry is hoping for: where new opportunities like fitness tech bring new revenue to rightsholders, but where that music also creates value for the tech sectors — whether that be through acquisitions, public company valuations or simply growth in their users and revenues. Gaming is the third sector riding high in the industry’s priorities, from partnerships to hold virtual concerts in Fortnite and Roblox to licensing deals for the full range of console and mobile games, building on the long-established sync business. Oana Ruxandra is chief digital officer and executive vice-president, business development, at Warner Music Group, which has been particularly keen to strike partnerMIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

ships and investments in the gaming space — including a flagship deal with Roblox. “We have to as a music industry be open and nuanced and flexible in our approach… we’re building out the right ways to license and provide real revenue opportunity, as we’re also building out these spaces,” Ruxandra says. “We really do think these spaces, these metaverses are going to create opportunity. They’re going to be where people exist. They’re going to be where our artists and fans exist and so today, right now, we’re really focused on experimenting and building the capabilities, building the know-how.” Ruxandra will be speaking at Midem Digital Edition 2021 to offer more insight into WMG’s strategy. Social, gaming and fitness may be the three flagship new monetisation opportunities for music in tech, but the industry is exploring a host of other paths too. Labels and streaming services alike are expanding rapidly into high-potential markets like China, India and Africa, while artists and managers are exploring the growth of livestreaming and its potential to form a new hybrid live music market alongside physical concerts. Meanwhile, there is burgeoning growth of subscription-based superfan communities through established crowdfunding platforms like Patreon, as well as newer startups like Fanbase and Fave — the latter of which has already enlisted the famously-enthusiastic fandoms of Taylor Swift and BTS. Plus there is 2021’s biggest tech buzzword, NFTs, and the potential they bring for artists, labels and music brands alike. Midem Digital Edition 2021’s focus on embracing new monetisation frontiers comes at the perfect time: there is a lot of embracing to be done, and willing arms within the industry. n 10



Is there a fairer way for streamers to pay artists? been saved does not work for everyone,” the report concludes. “The issues ostensibly created by streaming simply reflect more fundamental, structural problems within the recorded music industry. Streaming needs a complete reset.” The UK’s competition regulator is now preparing to carry out a market study focused on the music industry, including exploring how artists are paid, and whether improvements could be made. One model that might help is “user-centric” payouts, where the royalties from each individual streaming subscriber are divided only between the music they listen to, rather than the current pro-rata system where the royalties go into a bigger pool divided by overall share of streams on a service. SoundCloud is testing the model, calling it “fan-powered royalties”, and recently claimed that a new track released by British band Portishead “earned more than six times the revenue it would have under a pro-rata model” in a month. The company will be discussing its work with artists, including fan-powered royalties, during its two sessions at Midem Digital Edition 2021. A study published by the National Music Centre (CNM) in France in January 2021, using data from Spotify and Deezer, suggested that user-centric payouts would redistribute royalties away from the top artists and towards those lower down the industry hierarchy, including musicians in genres like classical music, jazz, metal and blues. The redistribution would not drastically change the fortunes of those artists, but streaming services have indicated a willingness to explore the model further, if music rightsholders agree to pursue it. “While initial research around a user-centric payment model is limited and doesn’t show the dramatic shift many thought it might, if artists and songwriters prefer this model, we support conducting additional research and will keep an open mind,” Spotify’s spokesperson said when the CNM study was published. Meanwhile, French streaming and download service Qobuz is aiming to protect artists remuneration and sound quality in the online environment. Qobuz offers both high-resolution streaming and the opportunity to buy high-resolution music downloads from its online store. “Since its creation in 2007, we advocate for quality music that respects artists and their work; music that allows for a fair remuneration of artists and rights holders,” Qobuz deputy CEO Georges Fornay says. “Thus, Qobuz does not offer a free formula, does not impose any advertising and calls for a preference for high-resolution streaming subscriptions and download purchases, two models that ensure better remuneration for all those involved in musical creation.” User-centric payouts may well come up for discussion during Midem Digital Edition 2021, as the industry continues to consider how the streaming economy can evolve in the next decade of growth. n

Fair pay for artists in the streaming environment will be a hot topic during Midem Digital Edition. Stuart Dredge examines some of the issues around royalties and the digital environment


TREAMING has returned the recorded music industry to growth. According to the IFPI, global revenues grew by 7.4% in 2020 to $21.6bn: the sixth consecutive year of growth, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The streaming boom has helped Spotify to become a company with 381 million listeners and a market cap of more than $50bn. Universal Music and Warner Music have joined it as public companies, with market caps — as of the start of November 2021 — of $53bn and $25.5bn respectively. Publishers’ revenues are climbing, and there is a boom in acquisitions of publishing and recordings catalogues by companies like Primary Wave, Hipgnosis Songs Fund and Round Hill Music, as well as the entry into the rights-buying market of wealthy investment firms like KKR and Blackstone. However, these boom times have also revealed tensions within the music industry, particularly over how streaming revenues are shared with artists and songwriters. In the UK, those tensions sparked a parliamentary inquiry whose report called for significant changes in the music streaming economy. “Streaming has undoubtedly helped save the music industry following two decades of digital piracy but it is clear that what has MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS




Digital tools offering a credible alternative to traditional labels Midem’s mission to offer insights into the global music industry’s future continues this year at its first-ever Artist & Label Services-dedicated forum. Juliana Koranteng reports

Spotify’s Jennifer Masset

Horus’ Matt Newton


RTIST & Label Services (A&L Services) are a new generation of businesses offering digital tools that empower DIY music-content creators to self-release recordings while retaining financial and creative independence. In contrast to the exclusive — some would say “restrictive” — contracts signed by artists with traditional record labels, A&L Services enable creators to retain and control their music’s copyright. But as each artist cannot do everything required in the complex business, A&L Services provide artists-first expertise. This includes helping to market their releases, reach fans directly, analyse data, organise tours, administer publishing rights and even offer financial advances. All this is possible for independent artists thanks to developments in high-speed internet, social media, streaming platforms, smartphones and related digital tools. It is a flexible model that allows each creator to pick and mix what he or she needs. “We recognise that every project is unique and SoundCloud seeks to provide a solution that is customised, at scale, to match the unique needs of the artists we work with across the globe,” says Midem 2021 keynoter Eliah Seton, president of SoundCloud, the world’s largest open audio platform. SoundCloud is famous for being home to 330 million-plus tracks MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

SoundCloud’s Eliah Seton

by self-release artists, including those by global hitmakers — including Billie Eilish. It has now added to its core offering A&L Services to bedroom artists, hobbyists and other aspiring independent creators who want to take their potential careers a step further. “The immediate benefit is that it allows us to strengthen our relationship with artists and prove to them that, by making SoundCloud their home, they have access to services and tools that are driving more meaningful commercial opportunities,” Seton adds. Reports by MIDiA Research indicate direct-release artists contributed $1.2bn to the 2020 global recorded-music revenues, a 34.1% increase from 2019. During Midem Digital 2020, Fred Davis, a partner at Raine Group, a US merchant bank and music-industry investor, said his company forecasts that DIY acts and ventures will generate more than $2bn in the near future. The legacy major labels, including Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, are investing in A&L Services. Spotify For Artists, the service provided by the world’s largest paid-for streaming-music platform to give DIY creators more control over the marketing of their releases, aims to roll out localised versions in 25 languages this year, says Jennifer Masset, Spotify’s global head of indies, commercial partnerships. 12


BUSINESS She adds: “We are actively looking to enable creators to live off their work.” UK-based Horus Music is an independent A&L Services company growing internationally, having recently expanded into India, Nigeria and Brazil. It works with Western artists, for example Norwegian rapper Big Daddy Karsten and UK indie rock band Fuzzy Sun, to gain followings on African streaming platforms including Boomplay Music. And vice-versa. “We have been able to create multiple territory-focused/specialised services for our Asian, African and South American clients on top of our global and more Western Europe/North American-focused services,” Horus’ label services executive Matt Newton says. US A&L Services venture TuneCore partners self-release artists who could then be “upstreamed” to sign with its France-based parent company, which owns established record labels including Nuclear Blast and Naïve.

The flexibility provided by their digital infrastructure is attracting more users to A&L Services, as demonstrated by the planned launch of France-headquartered Bridger in early 2022. Instead of focusing on recording artists, Bridger is aiming at the global independent songwriters, who have criticised traditional collecting societies for failing to access their royalties more efficiently. “We complement the traditional model of signing up with only one collective management organisation. Songwriters have a choice, which is fairly new in Europe, where monopolies are still the overwhelming rule,” Bridger’s founder/managing director, Jocelyn Seills, says. “We also want to bring collective rights management to those songwriters that are currently out of it and therefore do not monetise their lyrics and compositions at all.” n

Jennifer Masset: “We are actively looking to enable creators to live off their work”

ARTIST & LABEL SERVICES FORUM Learn about new Artists and Label Services that help artists gain control of their distribution and marketing strategies, their creativity and copyrights.


by exclusive keynotes and workshops featuring SoundCloud, Spotify for Artists, Horus Music, Bridger and many more…


with service providers from all around the world.







‘If it’s good, it’s good, and that’s all that matters’

The TV and music industries have been in partnership for decades, with a host of acts getting their first big break on the small screen. And as Gary Smith reports, in recent years drama series and documentaries have played a key role in giving a boost to emerging talents

Netflix’s Alexandra Patsavas


Red Five Creative/Atlantic Screen Music’s Rupert Hollier

IDEM Digital Edition keynote speaker Sat Bisla, president and founder, A&R Worldwide and MUSEXPO, has a strong track record in connecting the TV and music industries, where artists can enjoy success through documentaries, drama series and commercials. “Some TV commercials have succeeded in breaking emerging artists, but it depends on the product. But TV shows break acts much more consistently, especially shows that attract a younger audience such as The O.C., Stranger Things, C.S.I. and Dexter. And then it depends massively on who the music supervisor is. For example, my fellow Midem keynoter Alex Patsavas has incredible taste; she understands the context, the impact of the music on a scene, and the 360° dynamic of music in the context of a series.” According to Bisla, the trick is to stick to the basics: “The core of A&R has not changed and no amount of technological innovation will affect those fundamentals,” he says. “But the unexpected does occasionally happen. The pandemic broke the stranglehold that Bollywood had on breaking new acts in India and that has opened opportunities for companies like ours. We’ve placed around 50 songs in films and TV there recently.” Netflix’s head of music for original series, Alexandra Patsavas, says there is also plenty of opportunity for emerging artists. “We are so keen to work with emerging talent at Netflix, and composer talent is a particular focus. Current and upcoming projects include scores by Stephenie Economou, Kovas, Perrine Vergile, Tangerine Bolton, Daniel Lopatin, Matt Morton and Anna Dubrich. Emerging MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

A&R Worldwide and MUSEXPO’s Sat Bisla

acts included in titles across the series slate include: Oliver Malcolm, Claud, Desta French, Tima Dee and Chance Peña.” For Patsavas, first it’s all about the music: “I have always focused on instrumentation and the feel of the song first and then, if that is working, I focus on the lyrics. So, if the track is working the lyric is important. And perfecting how a track is coupled with picture is, more often, down to a talented picture editor and an instrumental version, or stems, to accomplish this.” Rupert Hollier, music supervisor and creative director, Red Five Creative/Atlantic Screen Music, has been working on Long Way Up, a travel series for Apple TV+ starring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman: “Long Way Up features hip-hop acts from Argentina and some remote regions of Peru, Chilean electronica and even acts that don’t have a label. It’s partly down to the fact that they’re travelling through several South American countries and partly down to the fact that reality shows naturally lend themselves to featuring new acts. Those shows can really work for emerging talent.” Hollier sees films generally as the preserve of heritage acts, but classic modern series such as the reality show Made In Chelsea, can prove to be a powerful meeting point for the millennial audience and the stars of the future. “Made In Chelsea was a huge vehicle for new music,” he says. “My advice to any young composer would be to just write your songs, don’t worry about where it might or might not fit a TV show — if it’s good, it’s good, and that’s all that matters.”n 14



‘Artists never know where their fans might come from’ In the digital world, an international strategy is of primary importance in growing and expanding an artist’s career, and Midem has launched several initiatives aimed at creating international trade links. Gary Smith reports

Faryal KhanThompson: “We are living in a borderless, internetdriven world” TuneCore’s Faryal Khan-Thompson

Horus Brasil’s David McLoughlin


N JULY 2021 Midem launched Midem Africa, the first pan-African digital music platform dedicated to the continent’s most vibrant music markets, with Kenya as Country Of Honour. Midem also teamed up with with Latin American entertainment company, Bizarro Live, to create a unique 2021 digital programme, including a spotlight on the Latin American music industry, bringing together movers and shakers of the region and their global peers. For most of his career, exporting and importing music to and from his home in Brazil has been Horus Brasil manager David McLoughlin’s passion. “I saw how insular the Brazilian music market was, with 80% of sales being domestic music, and I really wanted to show the world how much amazing music is being created here — and also to push out beyond the established world-music fan base, because there’s so much great heavy metal, funk, hip-hop and electronic music,” he says. “So I put together a list of around 1,200 radio stations, music supervisors, festival programmers and journalists and sent out tracks under the name Brazil Calling. And we’re seeing some great results. Karol Conká got an LP release in the UK and Kiko Dinucci, who makes samba punk, also had an LP released in the UK. We have also made some very valuable links with a group of MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Nigerian producers who are remixing some baile funk and trap tracks from Brazil.” According to Faryal Khan-Thompson, vice-president, international at New York–based independent digital music distribution and publishing company TuneCore, the importance of a comprehensive international strategy is huge: “Whether you’re an artist or a music company supporting artists, it’s extremely important because we are living in a borderless, internet-driven world,” Khan-Thompson says. “Artists never know where their fans might come from. With the explosion of music streaming, you could discover fans in corners of the world you never imagined. For example, LatAm is a very fast-growing music market with many genres and sub-genres of music — it’s an exciting region to watch. Africa as well, is booming in terms of the music market and specifically the music talent coming out of the continent with afropop, afrobeats and gospel as extremely popular genres. Additionally, African genres continue to influence the world stage — with international artists and listeners and fans all being influenced by music from the continent. This is not new, but I feel like the industry at large is just waking up to this and starting to acknowledge it and I’m personally humbled and honoured to be a part be a part of this amazing team looking to bring this to the fore even more.” n 15


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‘There are so many women who rock today’

In a post #MeToo era, initiatives led by those looking to build a more inclusive and diverse music business are changing the narrative and mindsets, allowing more female executives to reach higher levels of responsibility and artists and producers to get the traction they deserve. Juliana Koranteng spoke to some of the people involved

YouTube’s Addy Awofisayo

Warner Chappell Music’s Ayla Owen

Westcott Multimedia’s Kristin Grant

WIM Nigeria’s Eony Ugorji

Music Traveler’s Julia Rhee


HE CONCENSUS among high-ranking women executives in the music industry — and elsewhere — is that there is still a long way to go in terms of progress. However, they also agree that today there is more research data to support the need for improvement, just as there are also more accessible DIY digital tools for female creators to do their own thing. “When I look around the room now, I see more women,” YouTube’s head of music, Sub-Saharan Africa, Addy Awofisayo, says. “The MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Mach1 Spatial’s Jacqueline Bošnjak

Hidden Bands’ Nicole Sorochan

several years of discussions that highlighted there was a problem we should fix is paying off. But we need to keep having those discussions and initiatives that support, promote and empower women.” She also reasons that the DIY tech tools like YouTube and other digital platforms that enable artists to manage and control their creative careers have improved opportunities for women creators. “The DIY tools and the tech ecosystem have broken down 17


IDEAS the barriers put up by the traditional gatein order to track industry progress as we conkeepers,” Awofisayo says. “You can upload tinue to ensure equality.” your songs to YouTube or any other platAdditionally, a new generation of female form out there or social media. It is the fans executives feels galvanised by the mutual who are speaking now; fans are now the support they give each other. gatekeepers.” “Data and research help paint a picture Ayla Owen, vice-president, Europe, sync at to everyone about how big the problem Warner Chappell Music, agrees. “The susis. But more important to me is the shared tained, industry-wide effort to empower collective experience of women exposing female music business executives has certhe industry’s biggest problems with both tainly opened doors for women in previousauthentic vulnerability and with incredible ly male-dominated areas, but progress is strength,” says Nicole Sorochan, co-foundfragile.” er/CEO of Hidden Bands, an Augmented The gender-equality debate in music is Reality location-based music-discovery growing internationally. WIM, which operapp. “Hidden Bands prioritises finding unates chapters in several US cities and overderrepresented emerging artists to put on sees in key markets including the UK, Japan our platform to help them create a direct and India, has launched a new chapter in fan experience that is unique. And it isn’t Nigeria. “Fewer women are being recoghard. There are so many women who rock nised for their hard work, talent and deditoday, with new exciting takes on music.” cation,” says singer-songwriter Eony UgorGrowth in music tech is opening more career ji, who is also a qualified lawyer as well as opportunities for women like Jacqueline Bošnchair/founder of Lagos-headquartered jak, founder/CEO of Mach1 Spatial, a muWIM Nigeria. “This new WIM chapter, with sic-sound venture taking audio tech to a new its committee of six powerful women, is imlevel. portant as it will help outline the difficulties “I look forward to bringing my full femininity faced by women in the industry. We also into my role as a CEO of a sound-technoloaim to do this through education, support, gy company,” Bošnjak says. “I want to lead empowerment and recognition. We will with intuition, feeling, nurturing, receptivity, The Moonai app be holding seminars, online virtual classes, and interconnectedness. The world has not meetings and events.” experienced what women can truly bring to Africa’s biggest economy has a booming music industry that has the table as leaders.” propelled several local male artists, for example Davido, Wizkid “The challenge is enforcing companies to take action,” says Lauand Burna Boy, to global-superstar status. And Ugorji says it is ra-June Clarke, co-founder/head of business at Moonai, a mobile about time Nigerian female artists equally gain similar opportuniapp using science to alleviate period-related pain for women. ties. “The numbers still show there are a lot more men than women “There are communities such as shesaid.so, which works towards in the Nigerian music industry. For every four male artists signed to encouraging companies to making actual change in the indusa label, you have one female.” try, and there are other organisations like Femnoise in Spain and The importance of research data is raised when Warner Chappell MEWEM. But without these organisations, would companies acMusic’s Owen points out surveys showing that, during the COVID-19 tually be doing anything? There are still a lot of changes to be pandemic quarantines, “female parents are overwhelmingly bearing made; but why is that?” the brunt of household, childcare and home-schooling responsibilThe music industry must also remember that gender-biased polities. More proactive support for female executives within organisaicies hurts more than their female executives and employees, tions — and from government — will be crucial if we want to ensure Andreea Magdalina, founder of shesaid.so, the non-profit indethe industry’s hard-fought gains on gender equality continue to pendent global community of women and gender minorities in grow.” the music sector. The education to be gained from regularly publishing related data “The progress for women in executive roles is definitely noticeable; can only boost the gender-equity conversation, according to Kristhere is increased coverage in the media. But that hasn’t necestin Grant, president of Westcott Multimedia, which produces autosarily translated into considerable change in statistics and has mated programmatic ad campaigns for the music industry. “I think yet to impact things on a structural level,” she states research data informing topics such as the percentage of women “Most companies don’t offer a comprehensive parental leave in executive roles or the percentage of female-founded companies package, which is often the reason why more women don’t get backed by venture-capital investment, are necessary benchmarks the opportunity to climb the career ladder. If we manage to make




IDEAS this a priority at a company and societal level, and ensure fathers are part of the solution, I believe the change will be accelerated.” The industry also needs to do its best to avoid adopting the wider society’s prejudices, says Julia Rhee, co-founder/CEO of Music Traveler, the marketplace offering musicians anything they need in any part of the world to perform. “For example, depending on what genre of music, ageism is a real thing,” she says. “If you were to be a jazz or classical musician, you probably can have a life-long career where you become more respected as you age. But, if you happen to incorporate your youth, beauty into your art, this will become tougher. Although there are many exceptions like Celine Dion, Beyonce and Adele, it is simply harder for the vast majority of the female artists than for male artists.” But with the progress made so far, no matter how limited, are there now more role models for aspiring female music-industry executives? “Today, diversity in managerial styles which allows for a broad church of female leadership is welcomed by organisations. Women no longer have to ‘be one of the lads’ or mirror their male colleagues in order to get to the C-suite,” Warner Chappell Music’s Owen says. YouTube’s Awofisayo says she is emboldened by the female bosses at the company — and other high achievers, for example Ethiopia Habtemariam, chair and CEO of Motown Records. “These are women I look up to and learn from.” Westcott Multimedia’s Grant is constantly optimistic. “Every month, I am seeing announcements of phenomenal women in music being promoted to executive positions of leadership or accomplishing major achievements in the companies they have founded. A recent example would include Golnar Khosrowshahi, of Reservoir Media, who recently became the first female founder and leader of a publicly traded music company in the US.” Or as Hidden Bands’ Sorochan puts it: “Hell, yes. Everywhere I look, I see women stepping into new positions, or creating and building new companies with fresh perspectives.” n


Jaqueline Bošnjak: “The world has not experienced what women can truly bring to the table as leaders”



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There will be ‘no music on a dead planet’

The international music industry urgently needs to address how to minimise its contribution to the longterm damage being caused to the world’s climate. Midem delegates spoke with Juliana Koranteng about how the industry can act


IDEM is addressing the issue of climate change head-on during a panel session called Acting For Climate – One Record At A Time, a timely debate taking place just as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, took place in the UK city of Glasgow, 31 October to November 12. Organised with IMPALA, Europe’s biggest independent-music organisation, as part of the Global Indie Voices Programme, the Acting For Climate discussion delves into what needs to be done to eliminate industry practices contributing to the toxic carbon emissions feeding global warming. These include wasteful plastic in CD packaging, excess energy to stream content and unnecessary international business trips. “One of the most effective things we can do is to speak out about the climate emergency, wherever you can or wherever appropriate,” co-CEO of UK independent label Ninja Tune, Peter Quicke, says. He is also a member of IMPALA’s sustainability task force, which helps its music-company members access guidance, training schemes and to use IMPALA’s voluntary climate declaration. “A fully sustainable record business requires bigger supplies of renewable energy and a transport infrastructure that doesn’t run on fossil fuels, so that manufacturing and distribution can be closer to zero carbon. That will require government regulation, incentives and taxation and big energy and shipping companies to change, which they are now doing, which is great. But we all need faster action.” As well as publishing a climate charter outlining IMPALA’s commitment to climate change, the task force collaborates with non-profit organisations including Julie’s Bicycle, which mobilises the creative sectors to act against the climate crisis. It also works with Music Declares Emergency, which comprises artists and music companies jointly using their cultural and economic influence to propel changes that reduce the greenhouse gas emissions threatening to devastate our planet. “The climate crisis requires systemic change; we are all operating within structures that are beyond our control, so the changes have to come from the top and quickly. Use your vote and your voice,” UK-based Maddy Read Clarke, Music

Music Declares Emergency’s Maddy Read Clarke

Ninja Tune’s Peter Quicke

Declares Emergency’s co-founder/campaign director, says. “On a business level, look at the impact of your business, put a sustainability manager in place and start measuring your carbon emissions by using a carbon calculator.” One of its campaigns, No Music On A Dead Planet, invites artists worldwide to spread the message to their fans, including the young Gen Zero music consumers, who are insisting that businesses and politicians commit to a greener and safer planet. Sing The Change, another Music Declares Emergency initiative, is recording a version of the Louis Armstrong iconic classic What A Wonderful World with renowned British choral director Mark De-Lisser, UK gospel singers The Kingdom Choir and students from The Brit School performing-arts college in London. Additionally, hundreds of choirs and individuals have agreed to perform the song live all over the country. Read Clarke adds: “Our industry has a unique capacity to influence and mobilise audiences and it is our responsibility to make sure we have done everything we can to bring about urgent action because there is No Music On A Dead Planet.” Other Acting For Climate speakers at Midem include Horst Weidenmüller, founder of German independent !K7 and chair of IMPALA’s sustainability task force; and Hanna Grahn, sustainability lead at Spotify. n

Maddy Read Clarke: “The changes have to come from the top and quickly” MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS




Industry organisations aim to help indies ‘adapt to the virtual world’ How are the independents faring as the industry continues to be disrupted by the various manifestations of digital technology? Gary Smith hears from four key figures who are helping the industry to navigate numerous issues facing the sector

Ger Hatton, strategic advisor to the European creative industries is also counsel to the IMPF, the Independent Music Publishers International Forum

Didier Gosset, IMPALA’s communication and network director

Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota


N A Midem keynote session, Merlin CEO, Jeremy Sirota will discuss how independents are confronting the many challenges facing the industry and, in the process, creating more opportunities for this vibrant sector. Merlin’s members represent more than 20,000 labels and hundreds of thousands of artists. In its role as their independent digital music licensing partner, Merlin is focused on expanding its membership around the world, deepening existing partnerships — for example with Apple, Meta (Facebook), Spotify, TikTok, YouTube and others — and licensing more digital services. “Since January 2020, Merlin has welcomed 110 new members from 33 different countries who meet our unique qualifiers, including first-time direct members from Albania, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Pakistan, Peru, Singapore, Slovakia, Turkey and UAE,” Sirota says. “Our members gain access to best-in-class deals with nearly 40 digital partners, with another five partnerships to be completed by the end of the year. And those partners gain access to an incredible array of music in so many different genres and languages.” MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

WIN general manager Noemi Planas

As a digital-only company, Merlin wasn’t as heavily impacted by COVID-19 as some in the industry, relying on its core operating pillars of trust, access, flexibility and transparency as a framework. “We put in place a number of practices to help build resilience, communication and culture, such as weekly all-hands calls for the global team, a mentorship programme for new employees and an internal rotational programme to gain better insight into other teams. This gave us the opportunity to expand service to our members, plus we grew our team around the world to better provide support. This allowed us to sign new deals and renew existing partnerships quicker, and to pay and report to our members faster,” Sirota adds Adapting to COVID-19 also forced the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) to change path: “Partly it was about adapting to the virtual world,” WIN general manager, Noemi Planas, says. “We represent 33 associations around the world from Los Angeles to New Zealand and previously we had day-long, face-to-face group meetings, which, given the huge time zone differences between members, became impossible when we moved to virtual meetings. Plus, we were unable to develop new representation 22



Didier Gosset: “The old legislation was drawn up in 2002, before the digital world took shape”

in countries that don’t have any because all the conferences stopped. Midem Digital was key to our strategy in that it allowed us to map much of what’s going on around the world, which allowed us to extract best-practice ideas and reinforce the work of our regional members.” WIN launched the LATAM Network in January 2020 and is currently working on the APAC Alliance which will be launched at the end of October in order to establish regional groups around Asia. “The challenge there is that there is no common language, but major markets like South Korea and Japan are evolving rapidly, with a pronounced shift towards streaming in Japan where previously sound carriers dominated the market — and of course K-Pop proving to be a massive global success story. The challenge for us is seeing how the differences in Asian markets can be turned into a strength on the global market,” Planas says. European association IMPALA is focusing on two key issues over the coming year: the finalisation of the implementation of the EC Copyright Directive and fighting the infamous RAAP case. The EC is currently reviewing the consequences of a September 2020 decision of the European Court of Justice on thousands of recording artists and smaller labels in Europe, which would mean that European collecting societies for producers and performers would have to pay to countries who don’t provide for reciprocal rights for their own territory. For the US alone, the amount at stake exceeds €125m annually. At a time when revenues from broadcasting and public performance have fallen and performers have been unable to play live as a result of COVID-19, this would have a true impact on many European performers and labels. “IMPALA is looking to the EU to fix this situation urgently so that EU member states can continue to decide for themselves whether they want to apply this principle, as they have been able to do for decades,” IMPALA’s communication and network director, Didier Gosset, says. “Otherwise they‘re bleeding money into a non-reciprocal agreement. In terms of the EC Copyright Directive, we expect it to be fully implemented within six months. Currently we’re waiting for YouTube to complete Article 17 of the Directive and finalise its deals with collecting societies and more generally to solve the value gap created by digital platforms. These reforms really needed to happen, as the old legislation was drawn up in MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

2002, before the digital world took shape. Alongside those issues, we have just published our annual report on diversity and inclusion and we have teamed up with Julie’s Bicycle to raise awareness of sustainability issues through the Carbon Calculator, the first bespoke carbon calculator for the independent label sector.” Ger Hatton, strategic advisor to the European creative industries is also counsel to the IMPF, the Independent Music Publishers International Forum. And like IMPALA’s Gosset, she also is watching the adoption of the EC Copyright Directive with interest: “Looking at the situation from a broader perspective, we have to recognise that what happens in Europe eventually impacts the rest of the world and, like all legal changes — especially those that have to be agreed by the EC’s 27 member states — they take time to implement.” Her other main areas of interest for the coming year include the Digital Services Act (DSA), payment rates for artists by streaming platforms, fairer payments to less well-known artists and copyright buyouts: “Some of the lobbying around the content of the DSA is attempting to make digital platforms less responsible for hosting illegal content by weakening their liability — and of course this is the opposite of the what the DSA is intended to do. We would also like to see fair payments to artists being addressed in a creative way by streaming platforms, ideally a payment per stream which is not the case for less well-known and emerging acts. Plus, alongside the NMPA [National Music Publishers’ Association], the US publishers’ association and the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), we are also opposing the attempt by those platforms to lower streaming rates in 2023. We are also looking closely at how royalty-free music and buyouts distort the market and lead to composers not having the right to join collective rights management associations.” n 23



Avatars, NFTs, livestreaming… the lawyers have got work to do This year’s Midem Legal Summit in association with the IAEL (International Association of Entertainment Lawyers) will examine clearing music rights on next-generation platforms. Juliana Koranteng reports

Gowling WLG’s Susan Abramovitch

IAEL’s Jeff Liebenson, of Liebenson Law

LaPolt Law’s Dina LaPolt

THE USE and proper rights clearance of music in connection with emerging technologies such as gaming, NFTs, and metaverses” is a key area for those working in the legal and copyright sectors of the music industry, according to Midem participant Dina LaPolt, owner/founder of US-based LaPolt Law. NFTs — non-fungible tokens — are one-off monetisable collectible digitised items that, like rare works of art, have financial value that can go up and down. They can be used to create digital works of art, including recorded music or videos, that cannot be copied. And all transactions, usually involving cryptocurrency digital coins and ownership, are recorded on digital ledgers called the blockchain. Award-winning international acts, including US rock band Kings of Leon, Canadian singer-songwriter Grimes, DJs Steve Aoki and Deadmau5 and other hitmakers have made exclusive works available in the form of lucrative NFTs, some of which have sold for several million dollars. MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

MVVP’s Peter Marx

High-profile artists including Ariane Grande, superstar rapper Lil Nas X, rock band IDLES and protest-punk group Pussy Riot have performed in-game virtual concerts on such platforms as Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft. Rapper Travis Scott’s virtual gig on Fortnite recorded about 46 million viewers in total. Roblox, which enables its estimated 43 million active daily users to create their own games, is also being described as a metaverse — a virtual but working universe populated by avatars of real people. That is the same metaverse that social-media goliath Meta (formerly known as Facebook) wants to dominate. These digital environments attract the attention of millions of young Millennial, Gen Z and Generation Alpha music fans. Roblox, for example, hosts Listening Parties where artists can debut new releases. This inevitably has raised new licensing issues that saw the US’ National Music Publishers’ Association seal a deal in September to settle previous copyright-infringement claims against Roblox. 24


IDEAS Jeff Liebenson: “Artists can appear everywhere without hitting the road” Livestreaming, which permitted several artists to continue to entertain fans in real time during the global pandemic lockdown when tours where cancelled, is a relatively new mass-market format. However, the way copyright is protected on that format must be addressed at a time when on-demand music streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music, are being slated for not compensating rights owners adequately. “Livestreaming presents the opportunity for artists to appear everywhere without hitting the road,” Jeff Liebenson, IAEL president and principal at New York-based Liebenson Law, says. “This can generate new revenues that complement physical touring. Livestreaming is one of several new businesses that have brought to light the need to develop innovative new licensing models so rights holders can unleash these emerging opportunities for artists and others in the value chain.”


In addition to various cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union, legal experts at Midem will explore “the implementation of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market in the various Member States”, Peter Marx, a partner at Belgium-based MVVP, says. He is co-hosting the IAEL Legal Update Session at Midem with Susan Abramovich, head of entertainment & sports law at Canada’s Gowling WLG. Abramovich highlights current legal debates that include cases involving remixing, sampling, Taylor Swift’s rift with her former label Big Machine Records, and the fact that a major label like Universal Music Group is listed on the stock exchange. Then, there is the case that genuinely caught everyone by surprise, brought by the man pictured as a baby on the cover of Nevermind, the seminal album released by iconic grunge group Nirvana as far back as 1991. Tune into Midem Digital to learn much more. n




Old hits are enjoying new success, but it’s the public that decides Ever since the idea of remastering and repackaging iconic recordings became the norm, acts and their catalogues have enjoyed longer careers than they might ever have dared to imagine. And now, as Gary Smith reports, the digital world is adding a whole new layer of relevance for the millennial audience


HERE can be no denying that TikTok has breathed new life into old tracks, showing that great songs are truly timeless and that a good beat can transcend generations. “Our community surprises us every day with the content they create and the tracks they unearth,” Midem keynoter and global head of Music at TikTok, Ole Obermann, says. “One recent example is Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, which this month has gone viral for a second time on TikTok. This 1970s catalogue pop hit is being used to re-enact different stages of a relationship — from the early honeymoon phase to the later years where couples have a different kind of intimacy. Over 600,000 TikTok videos have been created using this track, and it has been a great to see it getting used as part of a trend that’s entertaining our community.” The revival of another 70s classic, Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, is the perfect example of where a TikTok creator uses a timeless song as the soundtrack for a video that went viral. “In just a matter of days, Dreams was back in the charts and getting millions of streams — over 40 years after its initial release,” Obermann says. “What really mattered though, was that the band leaned-in to our platform and started to jump on the viral trend. We know from experience that when artists do that, they really succeed on TikTok and bring even more value and awareness to songs long after they’ve reached their peak in the charts.” If, however, you want to try and predict what’ll be the next Dreams, forget it: “TikTok is inherently unpredictable. There isn’t a magic formula to what goes viral — it really could be anyone and anything, from an afro-beat track to a synth-pop floor-filler. In the past year, we’ve seen tracks from George Michael, Van McCoy, Soft Cell and The Mamas & The Papas all form part of viral trends on TikTok. All of these differing sounds show that any song can gain traction on our platform.” According to Justin Shukat, president and co-founder at Primary Wave Music Publishing, social media is a massive driver of consumption: “It’s partly the ease of access,” he says. “For examMIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Primary Wave Music Publishing’s Justin Shukat

TikTok’s Ole Obermann

ple, the combination of YouTube and the use of music in gaming is pushing music — both catalogue and contemporary — to kids much more than radio, even though radio is still capable of breaking hits. And the Dreams phenomenon, mentioned by Ole, is very powerful, mainly because it made the media much more aware of the huge market for heritage tracks.” It has, it seems, also woken up the music industry: “Traditionally the music business has paid little attention to catalogue; it was regarded as the thing that paid the utility bills,” Shukat says. “But in the last two years, many of the major music business stories have been about big-money catalogue deals and that reveals a lot about the true value of catalogue tracks. Fletcher’s Girls Girls Girls is a great example of taking the hooks and melodies from an old track — in this case I Kissed A Girl written by Max Martin and Katy Perry — then adding Fletcher’s lyrics to make a modern-day hit tune.” n 26



‘Do the work, develop your sound and forget about money’

Musician and entrepreneur Steve Aoki

Iconic Grammy-nominated international producer/DJ Steve Aoki is Artist Ambassador for the Midem Talent Exporter 2021 programme. He will feature in an exclusive fireside talk with Matt Medved, co-founder and CEO of nft and founder of Billboard Dance, called The Career Path Of A Multi-Hyphenate Artist: A Conversation With Steve Aoki. After the live session Aoki will meet the 12 selected artists and answer their questions. The session will be available, November 17, on midem.com. Gary Smith reports


“If it’s not in your heart, you will struggle”

ITH a career spanning over 25 years, Grammy-nominated international producer/DJ, Steve Aoki has gone from artist to inspiring electronic dance music entrepreneur. Founder of the trendsetting record label, events/lifestyle company and apparel line, Dim Mak, Aoki admits to being excited about his new role: “Midem is such a great organisation and it’s an honour to be part of that. Plus, it’s important to give something back by helping the next generation, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to dive into mentoring. And the music industry always needs new blood.” One thing he’ll be sharing is the need to be open to musical diversity: “Growing as an artist is all about opening up your musical horizons, being open to new ideas and different sounds and approaches. As someone who travels a lot, one of the things I love most about that is the opportunity to hear music from wherever I happen to be. I just love it when I hear something that stops me in my tracks. And you will encounter great music absolutely everywhere,” he says. Aoki was first inspired to pick up an instrument after going to see local punk bands as a teenager. “As a kid I went to see The Unbroken and Mean Season in a local club and that was my lightbulb moment. The combination of their energy and the liberating nature of the punk/DIY ethic sparked something in me that helped me to find my path, as well as a community of like-minded brothers and sisters. It made me believe that I could do this music MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

thing and, to be honest, if I hadn’t gone to that show and seen those bands, I might not have started learning to play.” Aoki has sustained a 25-year career in music and says he has definitely learned a thing or two along the way. Long-term success is a rare phenomenon in the music industry, so how would he advise newcomers on building longevity into their career plans? “If a young, aspiring artist approached me for advice, I‘d say that, above all else, you need two things: patience and self-belief,” he says. “Patience is so important because nothing comes easy, and it’s essential to invest time and energy in developing your craft.” Of course, every artist wants to be successful immediately, but usually it just doesn’t work out that way. “First you have to do the work, develop your own sound, and forget about money, it comes when it comes. If you don’t want to do it for the love of it, if it’s not in your heart, you will struggle,” he says. “And self-belief is crucial in helping you to get through the times when you’re rejected, because it will happen. At that point, your overriding desire to make your music is the thing that gets you through and keeps you going.” n 27



The Songwriting Camp: a place ‘to get excited and inspired’ Midem’s Songwriting Camp is designed to enable artists to share ideas, develop networks and be seen by global music buyers. A live, closed-door session during Midem Digital Edition will present tracks written by the selected artists ahead of this year’s event. Gary Smith and Stuart Dredge report


N THE era of streaming, individual songs are the dominant currency, which is why the Midem Songwriting Camp plays such a crucial role in the development of both artists and the industry. “Alongside the networking and meeting inspiring, talented songwriters and producers from around the world, I believe these Camps are important because no matter how experienced you are, you always learn at least one new thing,” producer and A&R executive — and participant in the Songwriting Camp — Johnny K Palmer, says. “Also these sessions are like long-term investments. Very occasionally you get a cut right immediately after the session, but mostly these songs flourish two or three years after the fact. And when they do it’s always really worth it.” Another Songwriting Camp participant, singer-wongwriter signed to Belgium’s Cricket Hill Music, Sabien Tiels, says the Songwriting Camp can serve to broaden artistic horizons: “Being able to write with other songwriters, especially those from abroad, gives you insight into how others work and it always generates new ideas,”



she says. “I have participated at several Songwriting Camps and that gave me the opportunity to work and write together with Elliott Murphy and Peter Kingsbury. I also wrote a few of my recent hits at one of the Camps.” For this year’s Songwriting Camp, Midem is partnering with the Taiwan Creative Agency. During four days in October, five talented Taiwanese musicians — Ozi, Chih Siou, Trout Fresh, Shi Shi Sun and Starr Chen —met and collaborated with international producers and artists, to create original songs that will be presented in a closed-door listening session during Midem Digital Edition. Trout Fresh is a rapper, singer, songwriter and a star producer in Taiwan. “This is my first international camp and for the third and fourth days, I was teamed up with Anuka — she was the most impressive artist to me. In the last song, I gradually got used to this unique creative process; the song we put together on the third day was my favourite one so far.” Starr Chen’s involvement in popular music began in 2010 when he joined EGGO, a music production company in Taiwan. He served

Signature Sounds’ Johnny K Palmer


Trout Fresh



Sabien Tiels

Shi Shi Sun

William Rousseau

Rico Greene Starr Chen

as producer and arranger and helped create numerous singles for local stars. “I don’t feel much in the way of cultural shocks, as music circulates around the world. The major shock comes from the speed at which they work. After I deliver a beat, they often come back with a complete melody in five minutes. That’s the major shock.“ After releasing his 2018 hit song B.O., which was streamed over 14 million times on Spotify, Ozi has continued to develop and explore new sounds. “Our advantages and uniqueness probably come from our individual cultures and when I create music, it’s important to put my cultural essence into it,” Ozi says. “For the Songwriting Camp, it’s crucial to bring creative thinking and ideas from different parts of the world. I’ve always cared about globalisation from the very beginning, and I believe the future has no boundaries for artists. We don’t really distinguish local or regional markets that much now in Taiwan and given that the world is getting ever more connected and closer together, it’s important for our music and culture to go global.” Chih Siou is a singer, composer and arranger who started his career from his bedroom and is now one of the biggest new stars in Taiwan. “Taiwan is a small market, so I don’t think we have particular advantages, but we do have a lot of outstanding professionals,” Chih Siou says. “Compared to other countries, I think there is still a lot of untapped potential in Mandarin-speaking music and musicians.” MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Shi Shi Sun is a recurrent music award nominee and winner. Her soft vocals and finely crafted production have made her a familiar face for R&B lovers in Taiwan: “As the people we’ve been working with are less exposed to Mandarin-speaking music, they have been pleasantly surprised and as a result, this Songwriting Camp should be beneficial to both sides,” Shi Shi Sun says. “Personally, I hope to benefit from more international opportunities to present my music. This is my objective and commitment in the long run.” Other international talent participating in this year’s Songwriting Camp include: singer-songwriter Rico Greene and songwriter/producer Anuka, both from the Netherlands; composer Kozbeatz, lyricist Francois Welgryn, songwriter Alex Colours and singer-songwriter Lister Hausman, all from France; vocalist and writer Niclas Lundin, from Sweden; and singer/songwriter Abi F Jones, author/composer David Simon and songwriter/producer Pete Barringer, all from the UK. “Finding my place and growing within the music industry has been quite the journey and one that is only made better and more fulfilling by the talents you get to meet,” another Songwriting Camp participant, French composer and producer William Rousseau, says. “Workshops allow just that: to get excited, to inspire and get inspired, to fuel others and be fueled by new amazing energies.” He adds: “Thank you Midem for having me this year, it gave me the chance to meet incredible artists, to create great work together and to have a unique platform to get this work out there. I’ll come back if you’ll have me!” n 30



Plans for ‘new cultural area’ for Europe

IMPALA executive chair Helen Smith

IAO chairman Nacho Garcia Vega


N AN exciting and much needed development for touring artists, European organisation for independent music companies IMPALA and the International Artists Association (IAO), are working on a joint proposal to create a new cultural area with a single touring permit, instead of treating Europe and its neighbours as separate blocs and countries. Known as the GECAT pass (Geographical European Cultural Area Touring), the proposal was introduced in Q3 this year and since then the plan has attracted many interested parties from the sector and beyond. “Although schemes do exist currently to facilitate touring, IMPALA and IAO take the view that there is a need for a parallel system,” IMPALA executive chair Helen Smith says. “Our case studies underline the practical hindrances many small and medium-sized tours MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

face — for example visas, VAT, customs and cabotage, as soon as they move from one economic grouping or country to another.” “Current legislation should be updated to make it easier and less expensive for European artists to tour Europe. We need a new broader cultural area, instead of treating Europe as a number of distinct blocs,” IAO chairman Nacho Garcia Vega, adds. “Technical solutions on mobility, declarations of instruments and equipment, unlimited stops in touring activity or VAT on merchandise paid on return, are the sorts of improvements for small and medium-size tours that lie behind the GECAT Pass proposal. There is also a need to harmonise the national withholding tax regulations, the so-called artist tax. Currently those regulations are giving American artists financial advantage over Europeans when touring in different European countries. ” n 31



‘It’s a pretty awesome time for new artists’ Artists need to think globally in terms of their careers and this year’s Midem Talent Exporter programme is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to emerging acts from different countries to develop internationally. Juliana Koranteng reports

Beats Communications’ Nayira Castellanos

Vevo’s Parul Chokshi

peermusic’s Ralph W Peer


HE MIDEM Talent Exporter 2021 artists’ selection — 12 in all — from Argentina and Bulgaria to France, Taiwan and Uganda, were chosen from entries from 71 countries, and cover a wide range of genres that include hip-hop, pop, R‘n’B, electronic dance and world music. In collaboration with the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) and described as the “ultimate music accelerator for artists’ international expansion”, Midem Talent Exporter creates rare business openings by arranging meetings between the finalists and real-life international talent scouts. And as a bonus for this year’s event, the selected artists will also be receiving advice from Steve Aoki, the award-winning international hit DJ, who is Midem Talent Exporter 2021’s artist ambassador. And talent buyers, who are seeking new voices, faces and sounds to elevate commercially, have totally embraced Talent Exporter’s potential. Ralph W Peer, vice-president Sub-Saharan Africa & MENA at publishing powerhouse peermusic, praises the human contact MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

PopArabia’s Spek

this initiative brings to up-and-coming artists, even though digital tools exist to enable them to find their own audiences. “As someone working in the creative industries it is always an honour and pleasure to meet new talent and hear new ideas, particularly from those outside our normal geographical silos or focus,” Peer says. “To produce art requires investment of many forms, which is not always simply monetary. Professionals like myself specialise in giving or opening up opportunities to such investment.” Vevo, a multinational music-video broadcasting platform, welcomes artist discovery channels like the Talent Exporter. “This programme is so exciting because it unites music globally across so many different genres and regions,” Parul Chokshi, Vevo’s senior director of talent booking, says. “There are no more borders. An artist from Surulere in Lagos, Nigeria can be creating an innovative, viral music video just the same as any artist in London or New York. It’s a pretty awesome time for new artists.” she adds. “In the past, it was difficult to get your music heard, you’d need a 33



connection with a radio station or score a big record label deal. Now, there are so many ways to break through to a new audience.” For Spek, founder/president of PopArabia, a leading music-rights consultancy and indie music company in the MENA region, Talent Exporter opened a door to introduce the world to finalist Bedouin Burger, an Arabic electronic pop band signed to PopArabia. “There’s no one silver bullet that will resolve the challenges of having your voice heard when there’s so much music in the market. However, the Midem Talent Exporter is a great tool to help make an impact,” says Spek, who is also executive vice-president, international and emerging markets at US-based indie music powerhouse Reservoir. “Artist development has moved from being in the form of development deals by major labels to it moving to indie releases, snippets, short-form video content by a band able to build a social media presence for themselves.” One person helping up-and-coming performers deliver to the fan bases built via social media and other digital tools is Nayira Castellanos, CEO of US-based PR, marketing and communications agency Beats Communications. “As music genres and cultures continue to blend, it’s very interesting to learn about the trends emerging all over the world, and Midem is one of the few platforms that is able to bring everyone to the same space,” she says. “Artists now have the capacity to create a community anywhere in the world, and that should definitely be a focus point.” n

Midem Talent Exporter’s 12 Finalists Andrekza, Latin (Venezuela) Ascendant Vierge, Electronic pop (France) Bedouin Burger, World (Lebanon) Beenie Gunter, R’n’B/Hip-Hop/Urban (Uganda) Howard Lee, Pop (Taiwan) Kabeaushé, Pop (Kenya) KALUSH, R’n’B/Hip-Hop/Urban (Ukraine) Maia Reficco, Pop (Argentina) OMA, R’n’B/Hip-Hop/Urban (France) Stilo Magolide, R’n’B/Hip-Hop/Urban (South Africa) Victoria, Pop (Bulgaria)

Parul Chokshi: “Now, there are so many ways to break through to a new audience”


Yung Raja, R’n’B/Hip-Hop/Urban (Singapore)




‘We need to keep the pace - the industry needs tech partners’ The 20 finalists in this year’s Midemlab startups contest will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of past alumni of the competition, who include SoundCloud, Kickstarter, Songkick and The Echo Nest. Stuart Dredge reports


IVIDED into four categories, this year’s Midemlab startups contest will serve as a snapshot of music-tech innovation in 2021, at a time when the music industry is keener than ever to collaborate with startups. “Innovation is just as important, if not more so, to the music business in 2021. Particularly as the industry looks to build new revenue opportunities beyond on-demand streaming services,” says Paul Brindley, CEO of Music Ally, one of the Midemlab selection partners. Brindley cites the health, fitness, gaming and metaverse sectors as prime examples of this dynamic at work. “The industry needs tech partners to help create and facilitate these opportunities, and rights owners are wisely investing in these companies,” he says. MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Midemlab 2021 is the 14th edition of the contest, which this year will be presented by Sacem, with a follow-up online networking session presented by Sacem and LyricFind. “Innovation is important for two main reasons. The first one is because innovation is just happening, everywhere and all the time. It drives new usages, new opportunities, new revenues and sometimes some risks,” head of digital strategy and innovation at Sacem, Julian Lefebvre says. “We need to keep the pace and be aware of what’s happening in order to succeed in our mission and provide the best service to the creators and publishers.” Second is the need for the music industry to constantly seek out new ideas and new ways of thinking about its problems and its opportunities. “Startups, by nature, think and work in a different way than established actors and we believe the collaboration 35


INNOVATION can be fruitful and be a driver for accelerated evolutions,” Lefebvre says. Yvan Boudillet, founder of TheLynk, another of the selecting partners, agrees. “In 2021 and beyond, innovation considered as a creative, inclusive and problem-solving process will be instrumental to translate creativity and fan engagement into value, in a fair and transparent way.” Midemlab’s earliest incarnations happened at a time when the recorded music industry was still in decline and it played an important role in pointing to some of the routes out of that slump. “The music industry almost capsized by not raising all boats with attention to tech progress and music tech innovation,” senior vice-president of international publishing at LyricFind, Robert

Singerman, says. “If the music industry and the music community supports music tech, respecting copyright, nurturing new tech and new business models, all will be served.” Meanwhile Boudillet offers some tips for startups hoping to make a good impression at Midemlab 2021. “What impresses me is first of all the bold vision of the founders. Then, my focus is to evaluate their understanding of their ecosystem and their capacity to elaborate a tangible go-to-market strategy to turn their concept into a sustainable business,” he says. For Music Ally’s Brindley, the key is originality. “What really stands out for me is when you see something you’ve genuinely never seen before,” he says. “Too many companies end up imitating existing companies.” n

Paul Brindley: “What stands out for me is when you see something you’ve never seen before”






Musicians are assured: artificial intelligence won’t take your job The artificial intelligence explosion is affecting — and often improving — most industries, all over the world, including music. But, as Stuart Dredge reports, musicians and composers should not be concerned that they might be replaced by these new technologies

Laife CEO Billy Mello

Billy Mello: “Nothing will surpass a moment of inspiration from a singer, songwriter or instrumentalist”


RTIFICIAL intelligence technologies are playing a growing role in the music industry in a range of ways: from powering the recommendations and personalised playlists of streaming services to analysing and tagging catalogues of music to ensure their metadata is accurate. Then there are AIs capable of creating music: a field that can raise tensions with human musicians who worry that the development of AI music will squeeze them out of the industry. Startups developing this technology say otherwise. One, Endel, has collaborated with musicians including Grimes and Plastikman. Another, Splash, recently raised $20m of funding to continue work on its music-making game that puts AI-generated beats and loops into the hands of children, with which they can create music. Midemlab 2021 will showcase some even newer startups in this field. Infinite Album uses AI to create soundtracks for livestreamers on Twitch, as an alternative to unlicensed music. “There’s still a sense that AI music is meant to replace artists and artistry and that’s just not true. AI music is brilliant at filling in holes that human-created music can’t do, and doing that at scale,” Infinite Album co-founder and CEO Karen Allen says. “In our case, that’s creating music in real time that is responsive to the action of the game as it’s played. It solves a very real copyright issue for livestream gamers by giving them constantly adaptive music, rather than repetitive playlists.” Infinite Album is planning to work with artists to create add-on sound packs, which Allen says will give them a direct hand in MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Infinite Album’s Karen Allen

how the company’s AI creates music in their style. “It’s not recreating their catalogue, it’s an entirely new creation, every time, infinitely,” she says. Billy Mello, CEO of fellow Midemlab finalist Laife, also sees creative AI playing a positive role in the music industry. His startup has developed a system to generate personalised music to help people with their mental health and sleeping. Mello is excited about the potential for creative AIs to make music that is “as bespoke as possible for as many people as we want” in the future. “Unsupervised machine learning for music creation can generate loads of new connections, ideas, concepts and harmonic sequences. The possibilities are there, and we just have to input the correct data for it to work.” Mello agrees with Allen on AI playing a complementary role for human musicians rather than trying to replace them. “We are slowly understanding all the possibilities AI music can deliver and we know that the machine won’t take our jobs. Nothing, at least for now, will surpass a moment of inspiration from a singer, songwriter or instrumentalist,” he says. “Also, even when we at Laife generate AI music, we still rely on real musicians to add a layer of feeling and humanity on top of it. I’m working more with musicians than I had in my previous 30 years in the music industry.” Midem Digital Edition 2021 will be exploring AI’s potential in the How Ai Is Shaking Up The Music Industry session, with Hitlab, a Canadian company founded by Michel Zgarka, using AI to connect artists, audiences and brands worldwide.. n 37



Overpriced? Eco-unfriendly? What can NFTs do for music?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are collectible digital items, created and tracked using blockchain technology. In the early part of 2021, this technology made headlines around the world thanks to some stellar sales. Stuart Dredge reports


HE MUSICIAN Grimes sold nearly $6m worth of NFTs on Nifty Gateway, one of the main NFT marketplace sites. Meanwhile, visual artist Beeple sold one of his collages as an NFT for $69.4m at auction house Christie’s. No wonder the music industry is interested in the potential to make more NFTs based on artists and music brands. However, the hype in early 2021 quickly sparked a backlash, with criticism of NFTs as being overpriced, as well as of their environmental impact due to the carbon costs involved in ‘minting’ (creating) and tracking them. That has not stopped the experimentation continuing however. In the second half of 2021 alone, producer Timbaland teased new music in a series of NFTs; TikTok has worked with some popular social-media stars on a line of NFTs; charity the Mercury

Raised In Space’s Shara Senderoff





Joel ‘deadmau5’ Zimmerman

Phoenix Trust launched a range based on Freddie Mercury; the Grammy Awards and Rolling Stone minted their first NFTs; and artist 3lau founded a startup called Royal to enable fans to invest in music through NFTs. Most recently, in October, live music giant Live Nation launched its Live Stubs initiative, giving away NFT versions of paper ticket stubs to people who bought tickets to the US tour of Swedish House Mafia. Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino said that the product “brings back the nostalgia of collecting ticket stubs while also giving artists a new tool to deepen that relationship with their fans”, while hinting at the potential for those fans to get other rewards if they hold on to the NFTs. Startups including Fanaply, OneOf, Serenade and MakersPlace — the latter of which has taken investment from major label Sony Music —are forging partnerships with artists and labels to explore what else is possible with these tokens. “Any great revenue stream, the scale of it is dependent on how strategic you are with how you build it and how you commit to it,” says Shara Senderoff, president of investment firm Raised In MIDEM DIGITAL EDITION NEWS

Space, and panelist on the NFT Revolution seminar co-presented by Midem and IAEL. “A lot of artists just dump in for the gold rush and the cash grab, and if you come out the gate trying to get as much money once, is that the scale you could have if you commit to it strategically over multiple years of time, and you layer on the offering for fans and you continue to unlock opportunity? No. You’re going to limit the overall revenue.” Joel ‘deadmau5’ Zimmerman, one of the artists that has been experimenting with NFTs, is speaking on the same panel about his optimism. “This technology is in its infancy. A lot of people had this kind of misconception, and I did for a while too: They’re selling JPEGs? I don’t get it!” he says. “But once you get past that part of it, which is just the surface level, then you start to delve into how blockchain technology can do so many different things. Right now it’s just this mad scramble with the spotlight on ‘selling a JPEG for a million dollars’ or whatever. I’m really paying attention to what that underlying technology can do for future shows, tangible goods and services and stuff like that.” n 40


Another reason to love your fans With SoundCloud’s fan-powered royalties, you get paid based on how much your dedicated fans listen. The big payout pools that benefited megastars are a thing of the past. We’re changing up the game so that all artists can win and connect with their fans.

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16-19 NOVEMBER 2021 midem.com