Midem to close after 55 years

UPDATE: In a brief message on LinkedIn, Midem’s director has confirmed that plans are moving ahead for a new Midem. Although it was not specified, this might be under the banner of the city of Cannes. To keep up with developments, follow Cannes or Bust on Twitter.

the A short statement from the event director Alexandre Deniot was all it took to announce that Midem was to close after 55 years of being the pre-eminent music biz fair in the world. “Due to the lasting pandemic and following a review of its activity, RX France has decided to no longer continue to organise the Midem event. It is with regret therefore that we are cancelling the Midem 2022 edition”.

Midem music biz

Since 1967, Midem had been the place where the world’s music communities came to do business. Its concerts and parties were notorious. Their extravagance and the scale of deals that followed them marked it as the place to be year after year. This is where labels, publishers, managers and other sides of the industry came to set up deals. Countless artists owe their international careers to the generations of businessmen and women that flocked there every year to secure licensing or publishing deals, or set up financing for future activities.

Midem: dotcom boom and bust

A peak of sorts was hit in the early 2000s, when Midem latched onto the growth of peer-to-peer and digital distribution to promote Midemnet as a way to ride the dotcom boom. Ironically, this was the beginning of the end for the event as large numbers of labels were unable to pivot and either went bust or sold their catalogues. Huge parts of the business also evaporated when the CD business tumbled. Midem’s very essence – people meeting to do business – was further threatened by numerous smaller events and the rise of online events.

At every turn of the events, the Midem team adapted (and downsized) to remain relevant, introducing new partners and formats to the trade floor. Midemlab, notably, provided a powerful showcase for musictech, giving Spotify, Soundcloud and Songkick their first public outings. More recently, they invested in parallel events in Africa and South America.

After being cancelled for two years due to covid restrictions, RX France probably decided that enough was enough – they were trying to fight against the tide in a shrinking market.

Midem: a sequel?

A sidenote to RX France’s statement states that the city of Cannes is in exclusive negotiations to acquire the brand. At present, there is no indication of what they might do with it. Continue as before? That would require a huge amount of work. Set up a smaller event? Run a music festival (something that Cannes is missing)?

Talk to any music professional over the age of 40 about Midem and you will be treated to tales of excitement, big money, expensive drinks and great music. As someone that spent years flogging a doomed Internet music site, promoting African music and later doing marketing for Midem itself, I sometimes find myself reflecting on all that. But here we are: “Midem to close”.

The changes to the business – and Midem – have been hard. But one lesson I learnt at Midem is that change IS the business.

Michael Leahy

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