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MIDEM Conference Scaled Down

CANNES, France (VIP NEWS) — For many MIDEM attendees, this year's conference started out on a quiet, damp note – literally, as it rained with a fair amount of regularity from Saturday morning well into Sunday night.

The first two days of this year's conference were a scaled-back version of the 3,000 seat amphitheaters of MIDEMs past, with breakout panels, meetups and hack sessions rarely topping out at over 200 attendees apiece. Many MIDEM staples stated that they appreciated the renewed focus, and programs like Midemlabs and even a Saturday-afternoon YouTube panel were standing-room only.

But the overall size of MIDEM has drastically shifted from its heyday – even 2010, with an attendance of 7,200 (a 10% decrease from 2009).

Although MIDEM director Bruno Crolot says that attendance was up 12% this year to 6,900 – the first gain in five years – many hotels have been notably frustrated about their low registration numbers. One hotel – the Majestic – is even threatening to stop hosting MIDEM guests due to this year's turnout, according to two executives familiar with the hotel's plans.

How to explain the disconnect? For starters, many attendees are staying at hotels further down the Rue de La Croisette to avoid the high rates of staples like the Majestic, Carlton and Martinez. The exorbitant prices of Cannes are finally starting to raise red flags among the music industry.

Even newly D.I.Y. singer Joss Stone and her manager were staying at a Radisson Inn 10 minutes outside of town to save cash. And with a growing number of MIDEM-goers coming from the U.S. startup community, it's getting harder to justify the international airfare when South by Southwest and other music-tech festivals are much closer.