More SXSW Impressions

"I went to Interactive and Music and despite budget cuts I was shocked as to how few music people there were there. It was incredibly educational and I think the $350 interactive badge is much more worthwhile than the $500 music badge. I haven't been to a SXSW music panel in years." – Nicole, Sideways Media

"The message of DIY has gone mainstream.  From the number of DIY topics discussed at SXSW panels, to the trade show packed full of tech services to artist to help them, “DIY” the concept was as ubiquitous as beer & bbq

True to form, DIY has manifested itself in an interesting way that is uniquely SXSW.  More than any year I have ever attended, there were more events and fans existing OUTSIDE the SXSW event/badge system then EVER.  The SXSW demo is highly coveted and sponsors can cut costs associated with reaching this demo by creating events without having to cut SXSW in.  There were literally smaller festivals happening WITHIN the SXSW festival taking advantage of the SXSW generated drawing power. 

Obviously SXSW doesn’t condone this, but like the major labels can’t control recorded media, how can SXSW expect to control a festival whose founding concepts have to do with breaking the mold.   Add a catalyst of the economy hurting, dropping the roughly $700 on a SXSW badge is a tall order for many who want the SXSW experience and where there is demand, supply will follow.  My favorite example is the 300+ person mosh pit that showed up at the infamous Lamar Pedestrian Bridge show Saturday night in the wee hours for some high octane punk-thrashing from Annihilation Time.

IMHO, there will never be a widget to replace a well put together team with experience and capital, but technology and the social networking human culture is absolutely allowing for smart, savvy aspiring talent to get their art out to masses.  Whether or not they are successful (which is also a sliding scale) is no longer up to gatekeepers rather, artists live or die by the ability of their music to attract, grow a fanbase, and monetize a community of fans.

I come away from SXSW strengthened in my belief that for developing artists, the choice to play SXSW is still very optional and should only be done if you have a reason to be there (ie PR supported record release) and are doing multiple showcases over the course of the week.  I would go as far to say that unless a band just want to go for fun, that they should avoid SXSW until they have the demand to better control the situation they are placed in at the festival.  

My personal best moments at SXSW other than seeing Janes Addiction from the front row was spending time networking.  SXSW is the best networking experience you can find, hands down.  The opportunities to meet buyers, agents, labels, marketing and tech companies, finding out what other players in the industry liked & disliked, what tools & techniques are working and not working, sharing ideas, helping someone with touring advice or getting some advice in return. That time spent on top of discovering new music is the most meaningful to me, the most worthwhile. – Patrick May, Skyline Music and The Mark & Pat Show

  • SXSW Impressions Part 1 here.
Share on: