Q’s With Alexandre Deniot, The Man Who Sets The Rhythm Of MIDEM

Alexandre Deniot
– Alexandre Deniot
The main man of MIDEM

Alexandre Deniot has been running MIDEM for one-and-a-half years now. While that alone would have been reason enough to catch up and find out how it’s going, there’s also the Pollstar Live Summit, which premieres at this year’s edition, June 5-8 in Cannes, France.

What’s on this year’s agenda, what role will live music play at the event going forward, and what does he tell the naysayers who think MIDEM’s days are numbered? Deniot had all the answers, and even revealed a brand-new MIDEM, that is going to launch in Africa next year.
Mr. Deniot, how would you sum up your first one-and-a-half years in office as director of MIDEM?
Let me start by saying that I’ve been working in the music business for the past 15 years, I’m a musician myself, a drummer. [Working for MIDEM] has really opened the way I see the music business in general. It’s a challenging job, and exciting, because you meet a lot of people from very interesting companies. It’s fun; I love what I’m doing right now.
Do you feel like you’re profiting from your skills as a drummer in your day-to-day job?
I think so, because playing the drums requires you to have good coordination, since you play one thing with your arms but something else with your feet. It’s a brain exercise. During MIDEM, I have to be everywhere, making sure everything runs smoothly. And, of course, you set the rhythm.
How do you feel about this year’s edition. Any highlights you’d like to point out?
We’re really excited about this edition, with a lot of new features. Of course, the first one is the Live Summit. It’s the first time we’re doing a live summit in association with Pollstar, and we’re very proud of this partnership, and look forward to exploring opportunities around the live production sector.
We have a new program, called the High-Potential Markets Programme, with a focus on Africa. This program is meant to support the structuring and professionalization of the African market, and to bridge the gap between the continent and the rest of the international music community. There’s big potential in Africa, but there’s a lot to do to make the market bigger and stronger. We want to be part of that, hence the program.
We’re hosting the Midem African Forum in Cannes, which follows our April tour to four countries in Africa – South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Republic of Congo – with conferences, workshops and showcases. We have two superstars from Africa at this year’s conference: Yemi Alade, the queen of Afropop from Nigeria, and Black Coffee as ambassador.
How did the Africa tour go?
It was amazing. You have to imagine 400 professionals touring the four countries in 15 days, with 50 performing artists and 2,000 people at the shows. It more than just talk about Africa, it was really about taking action, and being there, and meeting people.  The next step is going to be the Midem African Forum Cannes, and then we’re going to open MIDEM in Africa.
Will it be a similar event?
MIDEM in Cannes is really international, but the MIDEM in Africa will be for Africa. I love Africa, so it was great to really work with them and feel the energy and creativity. 
Any other novelties at this year’s MIDEM?
We are hosting a songwriting camp for the first time, with 10 to 15 songwriters and two superstars working together for almost one week during MIDEM. It’s part of my strategy to put artists and creativity at the heart of what we’re doing. 
What is more, we are hosting the Global Indie Voices Summit for the Independents as well as an Audio Visual Summit. More than ever we see the impact of series and movies related to music, and the impact on streaming. We are also going to announce the international premiere of Word Is Bond, the hip hop documentary, which is currently only live on one channel in the U.S. 
A lot of new additions.
There’s a lot of new stuff going on, and we want to be and active part of it. MIDEM is really the home of the global music community. We are one of its members, and we want to be a valuable member.

MIDEM 2017
– MIDEM 2017
Daddy Yankee spoke

How many delegates are you expecting?

Last year we had 4,400 participants from more than 80 countries, and around 2,000 companies. This year, the trend is very positive, and we expect even more professionals than in 2017.
What do you tell people, who wonder whether MIDEM has lost its clout over the years? 
People remember MIDEM from 10 or 20 years ago. Of course it’s different now, everybody’s aware that the music industry went through a crisis for the last 10 years. We were following this trend, and it’s turning around. We still are the leading music event for professionals. We were the first one, and we’re still the biggest international one. With more than 80 countries coming to MIDEM, there’s no other event like it.
It’s going to be the fourth edition in summer, enough time to assess the new time slot. Are you worried that professionals, especially from the live sector, can make it to Cannes, given that it’s the middle of the festival season for many?
What we see right now, and the feedback we got from attendees, is very positive. [Holding a conference] on the French Riviera is clearly better in June than in January. We can really take advantage of the possibilities of Cannes. This year, we’re going to have a new are on the beach, called the Midem Beach. It’s a new chilled-out spot to enjoy exciting music and other content, and meeting nice people. You’re going to be able to have drinks and food on the beach, it’s going to be quite nice.
As far as the live music professionals are concerned: for the moment it really isn’t an issue. It’s only during four days in the first week of June, and it’s doing pretty good.
How do you evaluate the importance of live music in Europe? And how does the introduction of a live summit to Midem reflect that?
The live music sector is in great shape, and has been improving for the last couple of years, and this process is still ongoing. If you look at the launch and success of many new festivals in Europe, such as Lollapalooza in France and Stockholm or Rock in Rio in Portugal, and the building of new venues and arenas, such as the 40,000 capacity U Arena in Paris. People go to concerts and festivals more than ever.
The trend is similar in the U.S. and the rest of the world. The major players are still trying to acquire small and medium-sized promoters in local markets, and the independents have to increasingly collaborate in order to stay competitive. The business is still growing pretty fast in Europe, and there are new high-potential markets like Africa [emerging].
MIDEM 2017
– MIDEM 2017
The long-standing music conference has increased its live lineup. Concerts take place on the beach

Are you planning to increase the live industry content at MIDEM even more going forward?
We will become the global music ecosystem, where the live sector needs to be equal to everything else we’re doing. So, yes, we’re going to increase the share of live industry content at MIDEM in the coming years. The Live Summit is only the first step, and we want to grow it. Maybe we are going to do more workshops or stretch it out across more days. We will develop it in the right direction with our partner Pollstar, depending on the experiences of this year.
How about actual live music? Are you contemplating bringing back the Midem Festival by any chance?
We had two stages on the beach and concerts every night at last year’s MIDEM. The area was amazing, and we’re going to develop it further. That’s why, this year, we have three stages, one day stage and two for the night.
We are also working on a talent export program for next year, and will add some live music inside the Palais, but that’s still work in progress. We want to do more around live music, as it is the best way to discover artists.
We’re not really a festival, but we still want to have more live acts, because it is important. But we will find our way to do it.
The IFPI just released their global figures. What’s your take on them?
It’s good to see an increase of 8.1 percent in revenues year-on-year. It’s a very positive trend, and  it’s good for the worldwide music ecosystem, the recording as well as the live music industry. And when you see that it’s driven by streaming and digital – in fact it’s driven by streaming subscriptions – it’s even better.
There are still a lot of challenges, in particular the value gap and the way revenues are split between the different players, but, globally, it’s a good trend that makes us pretty confident for the future. 
When you look at Europe in particular, it’s a slower growth. I think that’s due to the fact that in the two big markets Germany and France physical product still plays a big part, and it’s decreasing, so you see slower growth. But it’s nonetheless been growing for the past two or three years, so that’s also good for the business.
Any words for the U.S. audience in particular, who may not know about Europe’s market size and economic potential? 
The first thing I would like to say is that MIDEM isn’t a French event. It’s a European and, really, an international event. When U.S. attendees come to MIDEM, they meet the world. You have more than 80 countries coming. It’s a big opportunity, especially for independents, because you can develop your international network of professionals, including artists, managers and agents. The big players can meet officials from different countries, and explore new opportunities to build and acquire venues and arenas, and develop leading festival brands. 
Is there anything you would like to add?
One thing I forgot to mention is the quality of our incredible keynote speakers this year, including Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Brown, or Jennifer Breithaupt, the global consumer chief marketing officer of Citi, which invests a lot in live music and, for example, sponsored Guns N’ Roses’ “Not In This Lifetime” tour last year. We have Tim Leiweke, of course, from Oak View Group, the CEO of Napster [Bill Patrizio], the president of Geffen [Neil Jacobson], and the VP of partnerships at Snapchat [Ben Schwerin].
MIDEM 2017
– MIDEM 2017
“When U.S. attendees come to MIDEM, they meet the world,” says event director Deniot.