Music Conferences, from a Midem Manager’s P.O.V.

Music Conferences, from a Midem Manager’s P.O.V.

Benjamin Costantini is a conference manager at the midem music festival, an annual conference that takes place in Cannes, France where music makers, technology companies, a variety of brands and other talent come together to meet and share music and information about the industry. With many years’ experience in the Arts and technology, Benjamin got his start in music when he founded and managed the indie Spanish record label La Crème Records, a shareable CC-driven record label where he manage several bands. He also founded Objetivearte, a company dedicated to research support services.

 

Benjamin took some time to talk to me during the festival – which I had the pleasure of attending earlier this week – about how he got involved with midem and its importance to the music industry, how artists can maximize the benefits of attending and participating in music festivals and where he sees the music world headed in the future.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Thanks so much for taking some time to share your experience, Benjamin. How did you first get into the music business, and how did you get involved with midem?

 

BC:

 

I founded a pro-DIY record label in 2004, which happened to be identified in Spain as a grassroots movement for free culture advocacy. I’ve been managing several bands and even toured China in 2006 as a road manager. I was recruited by midem in 2011 as a conference manager.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What is the concept behind the midem conference, and what sets it apart from other festivals and conferences throughout the world?

 

BC:

 

MIDEM is the largest global music conference and has been a must-attend event for labels, publishers, distributors and other professionals for decades. It is broadening its scope more and more to embrace the whole ecosystem of the new music business, with tech companies, start-ups and developers, brands and ad agencies, artists, managers, marketers, etc. What really sets MIDEM apart from other events is its size and how profitable it is for business, networking, learning and forecasting.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What advice do you have for artists who wish to attend midem or industry events in general?

 

BC:

 

An artist should plan the trip well in advance to ensure a great return on investment. The best option would probably be to raise funds and perform live, get a great marketing campaign running prior to the event to raise awareness and never, never come alone. You need to know some people there to maximize connections. And if you don’t know anyone, travel with someone like your manager. Also, you need to carefully read the schedule of events, attend the conference and panels that matters to you most and jump in to connect with the speakers at the end of their talks. They love it!

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What are some of the things artists should be doing to promote themselves, get attention and build relationships before, during and after a music conference like MIDEM?

 

BC:

 

With the midem conference in particular, there is a great tool called midemconnect, an online database that enables to contact directly with other midem participants. The midem off programme is also a great opportunity to showcase your music in one of the many bars of Cannes. There are also different competitions where artists can submit their tracks for consideration such as the music pitch sessions or the midem off showcase competition, both powered by Sonicbids. And if you really want to create a buzz, bring your ukulele like Amanda Palmer did in 2011 and crash the conference!

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Are there artists or companies that you’ve noticed have been really successful at promoting themselves at the conference in past years? What would you say they did that separated them from others who did not do so well?

 

BC:

 

I wasn’t working for midem before the past couple years, but I feel that what the Pavilions do is great. Some countries are also starting to invest a lot to sponsor young talent so they can come to the festival.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Do you have any specific guidelines for artists when approaching music industry people at conferences and festivals?

 

BC:

 

Be professional. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur first, then an artist. Don’t be ashamed to talk to people outside your network. Make sure when you get back home, you have hundreds of business cards. And schedule your time well. Set up a daily to-do list and book as many meetings as possible.

 

Also, remember that you no longer need to bring CDs with you. They are useless for a DIY artist at conferences. Bring your PR materials or your manager, or even your tech guy/girl. It’s worth it!

 

Musician Coaching:

 

From your vantage point, are there areas of the music business that you think are going to be more successful than others in the future? Are there any parts of the industry that really need improvement or growth?

 

BC:

 

Midem in particular is betting strongly on direct-to-fan (D2F) as a real strategy both for emerging bands and for established artists. There’s still a lot to learn, explore and invent in this field, and many labels really need to embrace this business model beyond the pure marketing dimension of D2F.

 

Also, you can see with SOPA for example or HADOPI in France that there is still a lot to do in the fields of copyright, rights management and the business of sharing, so that will be something to keep an eye on.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Do you have any parting words of advice for musicians or music start-ups trying to succeed in the current industry?

 

BC:

 

If you’re a musician, you are lucky, because this is the best time ever. You will get the opportunity to record awesome tracks in professional studios and get played and reviewed by people from across the globe. Your market is the world.

 

If you are a music start-up, don’t pay for the rights upfront – unless your home market is Sweden. Now, innovation in the field of music has a serious cost that needs to be addressed in your business model. Keep in mind that you may not be able to launch your service as planned without signing partnerships with record labels and/or publishing companies.

 

To learn more about the work Benjamin Costantini does and check out details about the annual midem conference (and prepare for next year!), visit the official midem website. Next year’s festival is scheduled for January 26-29, 2013.