The Financial Times' overview of MIDEM paints a picture of, if not austerity, then at least restraint:
Normally, business at Midem is conducted from yacht to yacht, but seasoned veterans of the industry’s most prolonged schmooze have already detected a certain restraint in spending this year. Maybe it can be laid at the door of EMI. When Guy Hands of Terra Firma first gained entrance to the venerable institution, he declared it a mountain of waste.
Although having hundreds of staff from an industry pop over to the South of France is, in itself, a bit of a cash burn-off, isn't it?
The FT's man with the Pina Colada, Ben Fenton, was asked to believe a thousand unlikely things before each good breakfast:
Robin Hunt, former CEO of Spiral Frog, the first serious attempt at an ad-supported download service, and now chief strategy office of Qtrax, the next and rather more heavyweight effort, told me that whichever single is number one in the US is having five million songs a day stolen.
Five million songs a day? Really? That means 1.8 billion downloads of just the number one single, every year. Or every man, woman and child in the US 'stealing' a copy of a number one single every two months.
But worldwide, last week, the IFPI insisted that the ratio of legal:illegal downloads was 1:99. And that there were 1.7 billion legal downloads. Which means we're expected to believe that one per cent of all illegal downloads worldwide consists of American number one singles downloaded in the week they were number one.
That's just bollocks, isn't it? Another made-up number being thrown around. It's a pity Ben didn't ask him to prove his eye-catching claim. Or, indeed, where his licence agreements actually were. Do QTrax executives have jedi mind control skills or something?
[Part of MIDEM 2008]