As part and parcel of Midem’s three-year efforts to reinvent itself for the digital age, few of its ventures have been as successful as its MidemLab summit, which allows startup tech companies to pitch their wares and concepts for an industry audience. Now-ubiquitous companies such as Echo Nest, Songkick, SoundCloud (which won the inaugural event) and even Spotify have all passed through the lab. This year will see 30 new entrants, whose apps and services range from troubleshooting functionality to the fanciful and downright strange.
Midem director Bruno Crolot says applications for the 30 finalist spots have increased by between 20% and 30% every year since the competition bowed in 2008, and this year’s entrant pool was up 32% from 2013.
“We also every year brought the really relevant people in this environment to the conference,” he says. “If you bring them, then their peers are interested in coming. We also try to get VCs here, because a VC to a startup is obviously usually the first goal. At least at their early stages.”
This year’s judges cover a wide range of the business, from BlueNove CEO Martin Duval to Pepsi marketing bigwig Carla Hassan, TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher and Public Enemy founder Chuck D. Entries come from 12 different countries, including often under-represented territories such as Turkey, Israel, Austria and Estonia, and are divided into three categories: music discovery and creation, marketing and social engagement, plus sales and monetization.
Erik Ashdown, founder of Canadian cloud-based music mixing program Indiloop, hopes gaining an audience at the lab will help move the company along with securing licenses and partners.
“No one wants to be with you in the beginning, because the music industry is the epitome of cool,” he says. “Everybody wants to be with what’s working and what’s big, especially in the tech world, because there’s obviously a lot of failed music tech companies out there.
“Midem is a great place to tell the world that this isn’t just a concept, it’s an actual product that we’ve built, and give us the industry recognition to push the product forward. If we were to win, it would give an extra layer of legitimacy to what we’re doing, and hopefully help to get over some of the skepticism we’ve experienced.”
David Blutenthal of Moodsnap, a U.S.-based company that pairs song recommendation with images in a sort Rorschach-style music engine, says having a specifically musical audience helps get over some of the more remedial explanations that generalist tech panels require.
“MidemLab is gonna be the biggest opportunity we’ve had for this kind of pitch,” he says, “and it’s a relief that it’ll be a music industry-focused crowd, so I can use certain more technical terms, and people are going to understand what a ‘co-curated experience’ is, or how it’s a ‘non-interactive environment,’ without me having to explain it.”