Global music trade fair set to rock on in Cannes

19th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, Jan 19, 2006 (AFP) - From tiny portable music players to Walkman-style mobile phones, online record stores and iPod-friendly clothing, the digital music revolution is booming, with the piracy-battered music industry desperate to cash in on the action.

CANNES, France, Jan 19, 2006 (AFP) - From tiny portable music players to Walkman-style mobile phones, online record stores and iPod-friendly clothing, the digital music revolution is booming, with the piracy-battered music industry desperate to cash in on the action.

New figures released on Thursday showed that last year global digital music sales tripled to 1.1 billion dollars from 380 million dollars in 2004.

So a sense of urgency and high expectations will be in the air when MIDEM, the world's most influential music trade fair opens here in this small French Riviera resort town on Sunday celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Some 9,500 key players from the music, mobile telephone, video game and Internet industries are due to jet in for the five-day show.

But the industry has still to turn the corner and optimism triggered by the latest figures could be tempered by this week's plunge on the Tokyo stock market after a scandal at one of Japan's top Internet companies, raising memories of the not-so-distant past when the dot.com bubble burst.

The latest figures released by the global recording industry body, the IFPI, show that piracy is on the wane as music fans increasingly buy their favourite tracks from legal, online sites.

Mobile phones are also proving to be a popular way of downloading, storing and enjoying music, the report showed.

More than 60 million portable digital music players flew off the shelves last year, the IFPI reported.

Nokia, the world's leading mobile handset maker, sold over 40 million of its brand new music-capable phones and some 420 million single music tracks were downloaded from the Internet in 2005, 20 times more than two years ago.

"Two years ago, few could have predicted the extraordinary developments we are seeing in the digital music business today," noted IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy. "And there will be further significant growth in 2006 as the digital music market continues to take shape."

But while the tide looks to be finally turning for the beleaguered record industry, it will be another year or two before it emerges from the crisis generated by widespread piracy, Dominique Leguern, director of the fair's organiser Reed MIDEM, told AFP.

"The expansion in digital music is providing us with more and more new ways to add value for consumers, artists and an ever-growing circle of business partners and brands," said Alain Levy, chairman and CEO of music giant EMI. "Now we — the music industry, retailers and technology companies — must work together to maximise this unique opportunity."

The revolution that is transforming the music scene with the arrival of a plethora of new digital platforms is starting to generate big bucks but it has also turned the traditional business upside down.

"All of this has happened in a very short space of time," Leguern said, adding that, "the industry needs firstly to understand these changes and then adapt to them."

Many of the world's music and new technology leaders flying in for the show will take part in two days of packed brainstorming MidemNet sessions tackling the latest digital developments.

The MidemNet new technology conferences, traditionally held on the Saturday before the official MIDEM opening, have been extended by an extra day because of the huge interest, Leguern said.

This year's MIDEM also promises to be big on the live music side. More than 70 bands and artists will help celebrate MIDEM's 40th year, kicking off on Saturday with a glittering line-up of A-list pop stars jetting in for the annual French NRJ music awards.

Celebs due in town include US chart-topper 50 Cent who will share the stage with British-born pop idols Coldplay and singer-songwriter James Blunt, hip-hop masters Black Eyed Peas and French rock legend Johnny Hallyday.

Some 92 countries will be represented at this MIDEM, and while Europe and North American exhibitors will again dominate the year, Asian companies will also be out in force.

Japan will be the tenth largest exhibiting country, while countries represented for the first time include Sri Lanka, the Palestinian Authority and Kenya.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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