Norway Now in Cannes - a Midem 2003 round-up

The Norwegian presence was strong at Midem 2002. How did the Norwegian delegates fare in 2003 – did they manage to maintain momentum or was last year’s Norwegian showcase just a one-off event?

Erik Brataas - Phonofile delegate to Midem 2003 busy explaining the qualities of to Belgian delegates

Few could have avoided registering last year’s Midem slogan: Norway Now! With an eye-catching stand full of activity, an opening party with lots of strong acts, the attendance of Crown Prince Haakon and heavy media coverage, Norway certainly left its mark on last year’s Midem. This year many raised concerns whether if the Norwegian delegation could maintain momentum and build upon the impact of last year’s Norwegian offensive in Cannes. On paper, the Norwegian 2003 Midem delegation seemed less strong: no bands and fewer companies were to attend. However the conclusion to the five days of business and networking in Cannes is a very positive one: the delegates interviewed by expressed satisfaction and all felt that much had been achieved during these hectic January days.

From day one the activity on the Norwegian stand was strong and buzzing. One of the first to show up at the stand was renowned solo-artist, film-score composer and Cloroform member John Erik Kaada. Last year Kaada signed an exclusive world-wide record deal with Mike Patton’s Ipecac label, and Kaada’s aim for Midem was to meet the respective distributors personally. Said Kaada of his first Midem: My solo-album “Thank you for giving me your valuable time” is scheduled for release on Feb. 25 and I’m here to say hello to the distributors and through that contact I hope to give the release a push. I’m also planning tours and gigs in the respective territories, and I’m also searching for possible publishing deals.

Larry Bringsjord, head of MTG Records was one of the Norwegian stand’s most active delegates throughout the duration of Midem. When first met him on the fair’s first day he was visibly pleased. In addition to strong interest for his main priority these days, Furia’s first album, Bringsjord had also been active on the Asian market. His latest feat was a compilation of down-tempo film-music which featured several Norwegian-language tracks from A-ha front-man Morten Harket together with international stars such as Britney Spears, Brian Eno and Bob Dylan. The tracks were licensed form Bringsjord’s MTG label, and sales were estimated to be in excess of 50 000.

Says Bringsjord of the impact of last year’s Midem: This film-music compilation is just one example of many processes that started last year. We began with a meeting a year ago, followed up with e-mail contact and now I’ve got the CD in my hand.

Remo Rehder from renowned indie label Farmen attended his first Midem this year. Rehder is no stranger to the record industry however. The main act on his roster, Kaizers Orchestra are rapidly approaching 100 000 units sold in Norway with the Danish and Swedish markets catching on. A recent appearance at the Eurosonic festival in Holland earned the band a horde of loyal Dutch and Belgium fans thus prompting Rehders attendance at Midem to meet the growing international interest.

Says Rehder of his recent Dutch success: It was wild! Word of mouth must have travelled fast down there – the venue was packed and in the end the audience sang along with the Norwegian lyrics to Kaizers Orchestra’s biggest hit. The interest for the band has exploded after this, and I just had to come to Midem to meet the record labels, managements, agents and booking agencies who demand to know more about the band. We haven’t signed any major deals but we have concrete plans for licensing, distribution and touring all over Europe. Right now we’re focussing on the next Kaizers album titled “Evig pint” which is scheduled for release in Norway early February. If all goes well we will be presenting the band to a wider European audience later this year.

Erik Brataas from Norwegian music download services Phonofile/ was busy throughout the Midem days. His brainchild, undoubtedly Norway’s biggest music download services, was subjected to keen interest from international key players.

We’ve got more than 43 000 tracks from over 90 record labels, 4000 registered users and 25% of our sales are international explains Musiconline’s Brataas. We feel that our services are on par with the best that’s on the market, and export of our technology is our main priority at Midem. We have already exported and adapted our services for the Danish market and we have strong interest from several countries, among them Belgium. Exporting our music-download technology will naturally generate turnover for our company, but will also save precious time and investment for the customers who don’t have to endure the same R&D phase that we have been through. We need international partners who can contribute to our development of new technical solutions that will make music downloads more efficient, safer, more legitimate and more fun. One of our hopes for the future is that one will be able to establish international standards for file-formats, payment and downloads. A common standard will enhance music export across borders.

Tuba Records, one of Norway’s biggest independent distributors, has had a successful year as a distributor and through its sub-labels Port Azur, Bauta and Tabu. Port Azur’s main signing, Ugress, was one of last year’s most successful newcomers with album sales approaching gold.

Says Tuba’s Roar Hals: We’ve had lots of requests for Ugress, and we recently signed a world-wide publishing deal with EMI Music Publishing. We’ve also secured distribution all over Europe through Soul Seduction. There’s also great interest for our new metal label Tabu, and we find that it’s quite easy to export Norwegian metal. Over the last decade, Norwegian metal has had a strong position on the international scene, and it’s been one of Norway’s most important music export items. We get lots of requests from labels wanting to establish distribution in Norway, but we have to turn them down. We don’t want to import more than we already do, we want to export more and promote our artists and labels outside Norway.

Voices Music & Entertainment is another strong distributor with active sub-labels. Our share of the domestic market has been very strong this year says Voices’ Rune Danielsen. In contrast to the international markets that are falling, our market is increasing and we have just completed one of our strongest years ever. We’re also experiencing increased international attention for our labels and artists. Cutting-edge electronica labels such as Beatservice and Smalltown Supersound get good coverage in international media, and that has created strong interest for such bands as Flunk and Jaga Jazzist. Smalltown in particular is a happening label these days, much a consequence of Jaga Jazzist’s international success.

These satisfied Midem delegates are just a selection of a collection of companies and representatives who showcased a strong position throughout the duration of Midem. A subjective conclusion from’s point of view is that this year’s Midem was a strong one for the Norwegian delegation. The activity on the Norwegian stand was hectic and buzzing from day one and the Norwegian delegates were sought after right to the end of the fair. The international delegates level of knowledge on the Norwegian music scene was also noticeably stronger this year. The impact of last year’s Norwegian offensive was also evident as many delegates mentioned the strong image of Norway at Midem 2002. Music Export Norway can afford to bolster its ego as yet another successful showcase of Norwegian music has been completed.

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