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Sunday, 20 January, 2002, 13:23 GMT
Music conference's downbeat opening
Elbow will respresent new UK music at a showcase event
Music industry executives and a sprinkling of stars are gathering in Cannes for Midem, widely seen as the most important international conference and exhibition for the music business.

Midem, which yearly attracts thousands for deal-making and discussion, formally starts on Sunday evening.

More people listened to music in 2001 than ever before - we just didn't get paid for it.

JayBerman, IFPI
But there has been a drop in US visitors after fears over travel in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

And the 2002 event takes place amid concern over the music industry's performance, with global sales down 10% after poor figures in the world's two biggest markets - the US and Japan.

Helen Snell, media analyst at Dutch bank ABN Amro, said in Cannes: "The music industry needs to re-invent itself.

"By 2005, we will be looking at a very different music industry than today."

Cannes has hosted Midem since 1969
The economic downturn and piracy are likely to dominate Midem discussions, along with the internet.

The internet was seen some years ago as the industry's possible saviour, with the sale of recorded music moving online.

But the medium has proved easier for pirates than it has for the legitimate industry, and even the majors' much-vaunted net services Pressplay and MusicNet are yet to fully launch.

"I don't expect to see any significant uptake in the subscription services out there right now unless we see a dramatic change in what they are offering," said Ms Snell.

CD copier
Illegal CD copying is now a major concern
"As consumer propositions, they are far from appealing."

Conventional piracy is another worry for the industry.

The world record industry organisation IFPI put a value of $4.2bn (2.9bn) on pirated music in 2001, largely in the form of "burned" or copied CDs.

The estimated ratio of CDs sold to the number of CDs "burned" hit an all-time high of one-to-one in 2001.

The IFPI's chief executive Jay Berman said, "I'm convinced in my own mind that more people listened to music in 2001 than ever before - we just didn't get paid for it.

Britney Spears
Britney was in town to talk about her new film
"We are beginning to address this issue. We will do better in 2002 than 2001."

The British music industry is represented in Cannes by numerous record companies and music publishers, as well as industry organisations such as the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), MPA (Music Publishers Association) and AIM (Association of Independent Music).

British pop and rock is to be showcased on Monday with a bill that includes up-and-coming bands Elbow, Mull Historical Society, Electric Soft Parade and The Bees.

Britney Spears has already visited Midem, passing through Cannes on Saturday to give a press conference about her new film Crossroads.

The 20-year-old star confessed to finding England soccer captain David Beckham "cute".

But though she said she still planned to marry boy-band singer Justin Timberlake "in the future", she would be too busy to do so this year.

See also:

20 Jan 02 | Music
Dido is double winner in France
07 Jan 02 | New Media
Music industry mulls digital future
14 Nov 01 | Business
Music sales set for fall
28 Sep 01 | Business
Music market faces global slump
22 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Music piracy 'threatens industry'
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