Midem 2015 debates future of music technology

Technology and the opportunities it presents for the music sector will take centre stage at Midem next year.

Martin Varsavsky, founder of global WiFi network Fon, will use his keynote address at the music business conference to discuss how the convergence of music and technology has created the ‘living room of the 21st century’.

Midem’s director, Bruno Crolot said: ‘Martin Varsavsky is today at the convergence between music and tech, with the recent launch of Gramofon – a modern cloud jukebox that streams music to your sound system – providing a new way to enjoy music and there- fore adding new value to music.

‘Due to his achievements as an entrepreneur and angel investor, he has become a figurehead for entrepreneurs in the tech sector.’

Gramofon is a WiFi music player for traditional speakers. By plugging the device into speakers and connecting to the internet via WiFi, music can be played directly from any smartphone, creating a seamless home audio experience.

Multiple devices can be placed throughout the home, used as a WiFi hotspot, and stream music from cloud services or music providers such as Spotify.

Varsavsky founded Fon in 2006 ‘with the goal of blanketing the world with WiFi’. The company is now a global WiFi leader, with over 13m hotspots in more than 200 countries.

The Argentine-Spanish mogul believes his newest creation will change the way we listen to music. At his keynote address, Varsavsky will argue that while smartphones and tablets have disrupted the traditional living room paradigm of gathering around a TV or stereo, there is still a desire among family and friends to share music experiences in a communal way.

The businessman believes a return swing toward individualism will revert listening habits back to a combination of personal and social experiences, driven by technologies such as Sonos, Gramofon, Apple TV and Chromecast.

Martin Varsavsky courtesy midem
Martin Varsavsky, courtesy Midem

He said: ‘I am pleased to come to Midem to outline how new devices like Gramofon and Sonos will transform the music experience, making music social and enjoyed by all involved. My goal is to bring music back into the living room.’

Other confirmed keynote speakers on the 2015 line-up include composer and songwriter Paul Williams, who is president and chairman of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP); and Danae Ringelmann, co-founder and chief development officer of the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

Ringelmann will discuss the role of crowdfunding in contributing to the development of innovative music technologies, such as the soft wireless headphones designed by SleepPhones.

She said: ‘Since 2008, Indiegogo has empowered thousands of artists to amplify their audiences and raise more money for their projects than they could ever do on their own or elsewhere. Indiegogo’s open and global platform is now functioning as an engine that powerfully connects visionary creatives, technology pioneers and innovative philanthropies to the people who are the most passionate about bringing their ideas to life.’

Hosted at Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, Midem is an expansive global event encompassing conference sessions, competitions, networking events and a festival. 2015 sees it move from its usual January slot to take place 5-8 June.

Main image: Midem 2014 © Desjardins Image Co