Cannes - News that the global music industry has finally turned the corner and is on the road to recovery should help get the annual four-day gathering of many of the world's top music execs at the MIDEM trade fair that opens here Saturday off to a good start.
"I believe we can now say that the music industry globally is on the road to recovery and heading for growth for the first time since 1999," Frances Moore, CEO of the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), the body that represents the interests of the international recording industry said.
"We may not get there this year, but the direction of travel is clear," Moore added, noting that every digital revenue stream, including music downloads, subscriptions, ad-revenues and other channels are all growing.
The vibrant, growing digital music sector, however, will only realise its full potential if copyright laws are protected, the IFPI boss cautioned.
The main driver helping fuel this turnaround in the music sector is the increasing popularity of music download and subscription services such as Deezer, MOG and Spotify, industry executives noted.
"Download and subscription services are growing fast driven by smartphones and tablets," Edgar Berger, President and CEO International of Sony Music entertainment, one of the world's largest record labels said.
This advance is also worldwide, Edgar stressed, noting that eight of the top 20 music markets are showing growth, and this is a group of countries that span all the continents.
"I'm extremely confident about the future development of the recorded music industry going into 2013," Edgar said.
How much this upturn in the digital music sector can cover the losses and decrease in physical formats such as CDs and records, however, is still uncertain, according to experts.
MIDEM Director, Bruno Crolot, said that digital music is growing in a way that it's now starting, at least in some territories such as the US, to cover the losses and decline in physical sales.
"Even if it's a bit slow and a bit fragile, it's a real trend in the USA and we hope and the industry hopes that this will also come to other countries in Europe and the rest of the world," Crolot said.
These and other topics will be discussed at the show's packed conference programme that takes place in parallel with the real business of buying and selling music.
Some of the subjects that will be discussed include using YouTube as a source of income for artists, and "Direct-to-Fan" strategies to fund artists' tours and concerts.
One of the biggest conference draws will be classical superstar, Lang Lang, who is coming to the Riviera to talk about how talent, technology and brand partnerships have helped expose his music to a much wider audience.
And with advertising brands and agencies increasingly becoming a large source of financing and revenues for the music industry, MIDEM will launch "Brand Central" to help musicians and brands to work more closely.
Crolot said he expects the number of participants to be around the same level as last year, when 6 950 people attended the event - the first growth in attendance for many years.
More participants from Asia have signed up to come to Cannes this year, Crolot said, adding that South Korea will have a pavilion for the first time in a number of years and Malaysia will also be exhibiting.
Africa will be out in force, bringing along a larger contingent of participants and Ghana, Senegal and the Congo will all host pavilions, Crolot said.
As usual, there will be a packed schedule of concerts that will get Cannes rocking well into the small hours, headed up by British ska band Madness.
South Korean YouTube sensation Psy, who shot to international fame with his "Gangnam Style" video that clocked up the highest-ever number of YouTube views, will also jet into the seaside resort to attend the "NRJ Music Awards 2013" that take place on the eve of the MIDEM show.
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