TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: how-tos for the artists, and how to deal with brands and data (Music Conference panel overview, part 1 of 4)

By on Tuesday, 1st March 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Since 2012, every year we’ve headed out to the behemoth of an event that is SXSW Music, we here at TGTF have published a series of posts dubbed The TGTF Guide to SXSW. In addition to all the introductions to bands scheduled to showcase in Austin, reviews of their music, and plenty of other good stuff related to these artists, the point of the posts that make up the guide was to provide you a bird’s eye view, if you will, of what was up ahead and to bring your attention to the amazing amount of talent on show that that descends on the city in central Texas mid-March every year.

This year in the Guide, in addition to the actual music showcase portion of the guide that you are likely already familiar with, we’ll also be bringing you our picks of the best of the conference panel and programming for the convention side of SXSW Music. The SXSW Music Conference this year is divided into 12 general categories of panels, called tracks. In this post of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016, I’ll give you a taste of what’s on offer to conference attendees in the first three of these tracks, with the next three tracks featuring in another post to follow soon. Carrie will follow with posts of her own for the Guide next week on the remaining six tracks.

Artist How-Tos
Having attended the convention portion of both The Great Escape in Brighton and Liverpool Sound City in past years, I’ve been aware that a reasonable number of badge holders to these events are musicians, eager to network and learn more about the industry that they have chosen to make a living with. Given the comparative higher expense to attend with a badge in Austin, I guess it never dawned on me that SXSW Music would have similar musician attendees. So I was surprised and very happy to see an entire track for this year’s event to be devoted to educating musicians on the things they need to know that they might not otherwise have thought about, while also providing hands-on help from knowledgeable folks in the industry.

Demo Listening and Pitch Sessions will be available Wednesday 16 March to Friday 18 March to selected artists who upload their demos digitally to be put in the running for a shot at being heard by A&R and management companies. If you’re looking for information on the recording and production side of things, the panels titled Why Recording Studios Still Matter, Alternative Recording Studios, and Pop Music Production will be of interest.

The importance of effective use of the internet as a promotional vehicle and associated digital strategies have become more important than ever to artists in this second decade of the 21st century. The internet never turns off, and in the 24/7/365 Promotion and the Always-On Artist panel talk (Thursday 17 March), this problem of always being ‘on’ and the need to continually engage the fans and public will be discussed. Music streaming, digital music trends and other digital marketing strategies in the context of unsigned vs. signed artists will also be reviewed by Heads of Digital departments from several indie record labels in Digital Strategies in Indie Music (Friday 18 March).

Band Website Extreme Makeover, Part 1 (Wednesday 16 March) is exactly what it sounds like: bands will submit their Web sites for “Reviews will be ruthless and diplomacy left aside”, all in the name of assisting the bands with constructive feedback to make their sites a more successful part of their promotions. And probably the most pragmatic panel on the Artist How-Tos track is You Can’t Pay Bills with Facebook Likes (earlier in the day on Wednesday), which will help artists explore how to go beyond what we used to know as the traditional financial model for musicians and bands into a truly sustaining career by “funding new work and translating fan enthusiasm into income.”

These and other panels on the Artist How-Tos track are currently listed here on the SXSW 2016 Schedule page.

Bands & Brands
Not so long ago, ‘selling out’ was seen as the ultimate mark of a musician’s denigration and desperation. American readers, we all remember that Burger King tv commercial that used Modern English’s ‘I Melt With You’ to sell a cheeseburger, and then we all groaned, right? These days, however, an artist’s aligning with a brand often not only makes good business sense, but also offers opportunities that might not otherwise be available. For the complete list of panels in this track on the SXSW 2016 Schedule, click here.

Talib Kweli, speaking at SXSW 2016 Music Conference

In The ‘Brand’ New Patrons session (Thursday 17 March), collaborative and integrative methods will be discussed as a means for bands to reach fans beyond those in play within a traditional record deal. For those artists keen on giving back to their fans and communities, Good is the New Cool on Wednesday 16 March is a good shout and could be seen as a sister panel to Music & Activism, Amplifying Your Voice for Social Good (later in the day on Wednesday) in the Artist How-Tos track. For artists with an entrepreneurial streak, What It Means to Start a Label in the Digital Age, which will include first-hand experiences from American hip hop recording artist and social activist Talib Kweli (Wednesday 18 March), will be right up your alley.

Data Dives
Data, like some parts of science, may not always be sexy. However, there is no escaping the fact that there is an incredible wealth of information about music and how it is consumed available out there, from basic metrics that all bands should be using to drive (Data Analytics for the Indie Artist, Friday 18 March) to a map of where music discovery and emotional intelligence of the Dalai Lama intersect (Discovering Maps of Music and Emotion, Wednesday 16 March). Yes, this track’s sessions are generally techie, geekout stuff, but interesting and thought-provoking nevertheless. For a full list of the sessions being offered in this track, go here.

This is just part 1 of 4 in our previewing of the SXSW 2016 Music Conference. The next installment will be live here on TGTF on Thursday, the 3rd of March. New panel discussions are still being added to the schedule and as always, the panel schedule is subject to change. For complete, updated information on Music Conference tracks at SXSW 2016, click here.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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