“Building the $100 billion Music Business” – MIDEM’s Bruno Crolot on the future of online music

Nina Fowler 2013-01-25 2

Bruno Crolot

Global music trade fair MIDEM is about to kick off in Cannes – and this year will aim for a healthy balance between labels, license agencies and the tech startups trying to shake it all up.

Bruno Crolot is the director in charge of this year’s event, which last year brought 6,900 industry folk together to close deals and talk shop. As well as the “traditional” industry, guests include executives from the likes of YouTube, Deezer, Spotify and SoundCloud.

Crolot is not a tech guy per se but he is well-versed with the issues at hand. In his past lives, he directed audiovisual content licensing for Orange/France Telecom and also spent two years as VP Digital Sales and Business Development at Sony France.

“It was much more hectic at the time,” he said, when asked what it was like to work with new online music services in the mid-to-late 2000s. “We were trying new things – one new type of service emerging every six months.”

Now, Crolot said, the online music industry is much more stable – at least in terms of deals between music startups, licensing and collection agencies, and catalogue owners. “Now it’s pretty much aligned with the deal structure… Pretty clear for everyone.”

MIDEM and music – “our job is to be ahead of the curve”

Now that the various parties are more comfortable working together (with the exception of YouTube and Germany’s GEMA), the industry’s attention can turn to monetisation. Specifically, how to make more money for everyone from online audio content.

This is something even incumbent Spotify is still working to crack. At last count, the music streaming service had managed to convert one in four of its 20 million users to paying customers. It’s not clear yet if that will be enough to pull it into the black.

Talks on the subject at MIDEM this year include “Building the $100 billion Music Business”, a panel chat featuring representatives from Spotify, Xbox Music (USA), YouTube, Sony Music, Samsung Mspot and New Yorker Tom Silverman.

There’s also MIDEMLab – a pitch competition for startups, this year with 30 entrants across three categories – and a 48-hour hackathonThe pitch competition isn’t just for music technology startups, either:

“We decided to broaden the scope of the show and to open to new communities,” Crolot explained. “We already had music tech startups and companies but [from last year] we want to have the other players that bring tools to the industry – social media, data mining, monetisation tools etc that could work for music businesses but also other businesses.”

Even as MIDEM embraces tech and startups, Crolot is careful to make sure the event stays in tune with what the “core” music industry needs: “We need to be in line with our customers and bring the value they need. Our job is to be a little bit ahead of the curve.”

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