MIDEM Takes The Mic, with Marko Srdanov-Miletic from Timeless Music Company and Jamie Gough from Native Tongue Publishing

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015

Marko Srdanov-Miletic founded the Timeless Music Company in 2008 with music industry veteran John Evans. This June, Marko will attend MIDEM for the sixth consecutive year. We asked him to share his thoughts on the value of attending this event, one of Europe’s largest business-to-business music industry conferences. 

The last 10 years have seen many changes in the music industry. Many labels that were not able to move with the times and adapt quickly enough to change have disappeared. Compounding this is the reality that Australia, despite what we like to think, is very far away from the rest of the world - both in distance and in perspective. 

Going to MIDEM has been invaluable in removing these barriers. It’s led to a greater understanding of the big picture on a global scale. In turn, we have been able to tweak our business model to keep up with the constant changes in the music industry. 

I’ll admit there were times we went to MIDEM and the accountants questioned the financial expense versus results. However, even on those occasions, the trip allowed us to speak to partners from around the world. And listening to talk ‘around the campfire’ led to insights that one would not gain by staying isolated in Australia. 

From Australia to France: what’s the value?

People can read all the articles and opinions they like. But unless you are on the ground, feeling it and smelling the opportunities, it’s nothing than second-hand knowledge. While second-hand knowledge is useful, it doesn’t give you an edge over your competitors. 

MIDEM vs. SXSW = B2B vs. A&R

The difference between MIDEM and, say SXSW (which I have also attended), is that MIDEM is primarily a B2B, or ‘business-to-business’ event. SXSW, on the other hand, is for discovering acts.

One MIDEM experience I’ll never forget is a deal that came about after doing business with a partner for a few years. We had been licensing physical, followed by expansion to digital. Then, after three MIDEMS, we thought of a deal that just evolved while we were talking. This deal ended up so lucrative for both our companies that it has shaped our business model since then. I have no doubt it would not have come about if we weren’t at MIDEM.

APRA AMCOS members: is MIDEM for you? 

Once you have established yourself in the Australian music scene, to the extent that the local industry is starting to know about you, you will come to a point where you’ll question what’s next? Do I keep doing what I’m doing locally? Or do I try to level up by entering the world stage?

That’s when you should go to MIDEM. Assuming you are passionate and capable, you will come back with something. At worst, it will be the experience and contacts that lead to future deals - contacts that you have had the opportunity to vet yourself in person. At best? Well the sky’s the limit isn’t it?

Jamie Gough from Native Tongue Music Publishing takes the mic on his experiences at MIDEM.

Tell us a little bit about Native Tongue and how you are involved in the music industry. 

I am the General Manager at Native Tongue, a full service independent music publisher with offices in Melbourne, Auckland and Los Angeles. Over the past ten years we have developed a strong roster of local songwriters and international catalogues. We handle royalty accounting for songwriters. Pretty simply, it’s mutually beneficial for us to increase our writer’s royalties, so it is our job to help make this happen. This ranges from the very basics of vigilant registration/tracking/collection, to procuring creative licensing opportunities for our writer’s songs (sync’s), and facilitating creative collaborations between our writers and artists, and so on.

How have you found your experiences at MIDEM so far? 

I first attended MIDEM in 2007 and have now been seven times. MIDEM has been a very successful conference for us. It is the most important conference for music publishers to attend. All of the world’s leading publishers are there, so if you wish to seek them out to discuss business you can find them all in one place. Some of the relationships forged in 2007 didn’t result in a deal being signed until 2010.

How is MIDEM different from other music industry events like SXSW or Canadian Music Week? 

MIDEM is not for the feint hearted. It is very business driven and far less about live music and entertainment value for attendees than some of the other music conferences around the world. Conferences like SXSW, CMJ, Canadian Music Week and our own Bigsound have a day time conference programme, yet the primary focus is on the live showcases. In fact most of these conferences have daytime showcases starting at midday, so a lot of meetings are scheduled at venues, in bars, watching acts perform etc. MIDEM is quite different. Most meetings are held in the hotel lobbies, hotel rooms, restaurants or at the conference hall. With limited time to fit in an abundance of meetings, scheduling is tight. It is basically 4 straight days of meetings every half hour. 

I guess another main difference is the attendees at MIDEM differ somewhat to the other trade shows. MIDEM for us is a pure publishing focused conference. MIDEM is an opportunity for us to meet with our own network of sub-publishers from all over the world. It is also often the only time in a year we can meet with other publishers that we represent or wish to represent in the future.

Can you tell us what you’re most excited about in terms of this year’s MIDEM program? 

To be honest, the date change from late January to early June is very exciting. There has been talk of the date change reinvigorating MIDEM, so I am intrigued to see if there is a stronger focus on live music and outdoor events this year. The weather will also be much better in June.

Describe a memorable moment that you can’t forget from your previous experiences at MIDEM.

I think it was my first MIDEM, in 2007. It was opening night, which used to be a big showcase event at the Martinez, a majestic hotel on the Cannes Croisette. One of our songwriters was traveling through France so had dropped into Cannes for the night. He didn’t have a conference badge so wasn’t able to enter the hotel, and Amy Winehouse was about to perform. Just as I met him out the front a security gate opened and two vans drove past, entering the hotel complex… we followed. It was another band loading in. We joined the procession, through the hotel kitchen, and made it in just as she was starting. An unforgettable performance.

Most of our APRA AMCOS members are songwriters, composers and music publishers. Some of them are new to the music industry and some of them are already very established. From your perspective, what value is there in APRA AMCOS members attending MIDEM? At what stage in one’s career is it the most valuable? 

If you are a publisher member looking to grow your business I would definitely attend MIDEM. It is a great place to start relationships. For writer members, if you are an artist I would approach MIDEM with caution. I think there is going to be a larger emphasis on the live music side of MIDEM moving forward, so it may become a worthwhile event on the showcase calendar, however at the moment it might be best for your manager to attend in the first instance.

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