Reflections on MIDEM Part 1: The 2008 Spring Collection of Music Industry Jargon

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I spent the end of January attending MIDEM and its music meets technology conference, the MIDEMNET Forum in fashionable Cannes, France with nearly 10,000 music industry people from over 90 countries.  Part of my time there was spent attending the high-level conference panels and conversations where industry leaders in all areas were brought together to discuss the newest trends, most cutting edge technologies and thought-provoking theories.  

It seems every year, especially these days while the industry is so desperate to define itself, there is a whole new list of terms and vernacular du jour that one must be familiar with in order to keep up with these industry chats. At times, I found myself with nothing but the old lingo (DRM, the long tail, social networking sites….soooo last year), and I felt the need for an updated wardrobe of words.

I therefore, attempt here to present you with the 2008 Spring Collection of music biz buzzwords, as well as some classics from years past:

The 360 (Madonna) model.  Everyone is talking about it…they love it or hate it. Related terms tossed about are 280 model, 350 model, and everything in between a point and a circle. Live Nation and Nettwerk are the higher-profile ground-breakers. It’s a simple deal – a company and the artist both share in all the music ventures relating to the artist and each takes a piece of every single pie…mechanicals, publishing, touring, merch, licensing, etc…It seems to work fine for the big$-generating acts, but applying it to the middle and developing class of artists can screw the artists who would have otherwise survived on their touring and merch.

Ad-supported Pricing Model. The idea with this is that end users can get their tunes for free as they do on existing P2Ps.  The difference is that the sites have acquired the rights for the songs and have negotiated various pay-out schemes.  Revenues come from multinationals looking to data-mine and advertise more strategically.  (FYI, Nokia spent $2bill on marketing in 2007…)

Side-loading. As opposed to uploading or downloading, side-loading is moving files from the internet to other devices (mobile phones, PDAs) or from a PC to other devices. This term has been around for a while but is just getting hip in the music biz circles.

Revaluing music. The seemingly disintegrated DRM movement often used the term “devaluing music” as a basis for its existence. This brave new world talks instead about revaluing music.

Music Industry 1.0 is dead.  No longer is it about unit price; it’s now about share of the wallet (or even more boringly, “piece of the pie”)

Watermarking. Sean posted a good blog about this this morning – watermarking is the softer, gentler DRM.  While watermarking doesn't restrict ones ability to copy and use music, it does track it and could track back files on unauthorized sites to the original purchaser of the track.

Shadow industry (or the Grey or the Black and Grey market). The big-gigantic-money industry based on the trade of music where ISPs, device-makers, site owners, and other non-musicians the are the ones getting rich (this is what Paul McGuiness was going off about)

Amazia. There was lots of talk about the Asian market – specifically China and India. They’re huge, they’re technologically savvy, they’re experiencing disposal income like never before.

Recommendation software (such as iLike, facebook, imeem, or our dead buddy  pandora) replaces & refines last year’s hip phrase “social networking sites”

And finally, speaking about industry trends, if the MIDEMNET Forum panels were any indication, the au currant attire in the music biz is a pair of designer jeans, funky footwear (usually some kind of new colourful kicks), a casual blazer or trendy work jacket with a t-shirt or button-down half tucked in underneath.  Oh yeah, and you still mostly need to be a guy.

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