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Crystal ball-gazing

MidemNet confab looks into online future

CANNES — Online went mainstream at MidemNet, the one-day online conference that preceded the venerable Midem music market over the weekend, as industry luminaries took center stage and IBM unveiled its purported cure-all for the music biz’s cyber woes.

MP3.com topper Michael Robertson evangelized about his vision of the online future, and veteran jazz musician Herbie Hancock gave the artist’s view, but rocker/new-media visionary Peter Gabriel cut to the chase: “There’s all sorts of crap we can pour down this pipe,” he told Daily Variety.

Gabriel was on hand to promote his new online venture, On Demand Distribution (OD2), which has pacts with numerous labels, most importantly EMI.

Hancock was promoting a project of his own, his new label Transparent Music, a joint venture with RED Distribution.

Complicated issues

Robertson, whose music download company has been embroiled in lawsuits with the big five record labels for the better part of a year, advocated a revision in the structure of online copyright payments, a concept even more complicated than the business models that aren’t working on the Web.

IBM offered a practical solution, expanding its existing Electronic Media Management System (EMMS) to allow for secure Napster-style peer-to-peer distribution.

Big Blue also bowed a “click and buy” function for EMMS — the ability to immediately purchase a song heard on the radio, for example. Similar innovations have already been developed by small indie companies, but IBM has the clout to make it happen.

Elsewhere, four global music orgs pacted to develop their own online music security measure. The RIAA, IFPI, CISAC and BIEM, repping more than 100 markets worldwide, hope to develop a system by August through which all forms of music can be delivered securely on the Net.

Tuneful kudocast

The weekend’s entertainment highlight was the NRJ Awards, France’s closest equivalent to the Grammys.

Performing were Tom Jones, Ricky Martin and Anastacia. Show, held at Cannes’ centerpiece venue, the Palais des Festivals, went out live on French TV web TF1.

The big winner of the night was Madonna, who took best international album and female artist. Electronica vet Moby received the male artist nod, and best group went to Irish siblings the Corrs, who also played.

As of Sunday, 786 British companies were exhibiting at Midem, compared with 719 from the U.S. Host France had 554 and the Germans, at 400, came in fourth. The total number of companies registered was 4,393, with 6,000 participants altogether.

Midem runs through Thursday.

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