TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: this year’s conference programming in the Music Industry track

By on Wednesday, 21st February 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo of Shakey Graves by Greg Giannukos

SXSW Music Conference programming under the umbrella of the Music Industry track is intended to guide artists and other industry professionals through the promises and potential pitfalls of everyday business in the music world. This year’s Music Industry programming includes panel sessions on a variety of current trends and topics of interest, as well as touching base with the basics.

Music Industry Culture
Carrying on from programming at SXSW 2016 and SXSW 2017, this year’s music conference continues its meta-examination of music industry culture, starting with a question that digs down to the very root of the investigation. On Wednesday the 14th of March, a panel session titled ‘Is Culture Change in the Music Industry Possible?’ will consider “whether it is possible for such a complex, fragmented [industry] to develop a common culture, what an ideal music industry culture might look like, and most importantly, how we actually get there.”

A continued emphasis on feminism in the music industry manifests in several conference sessions, including ‘Women in Music: Break the Ceiling + Bridge the Gap’ on the 14th of March and ‘Sexual Misconduct in the Music Industry’ the following day. The former panel promises to “explore the challenges women face in negotiating and share tactics to become a better negotiator” as well as assessing “the current status of the gender and wage gaps and the impact these barriers have had on women in our industry.” The latter panel will specifically address sexual misconduct, with focus on “the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct and how this aggression affects the psyche of women working in music in regards to performance, promotions, equal pay and influence.”

Music Curation and Experience
‘Barriers to Innovation for New Music Experiences’ will begin the week on the 13th of March with a panel set to examine “current hurdles and roadblocks that face those building a new generation of music services and experiences”. In the spirit of an evolving music experience, a historical session titled ‘Curation, Collaboration & Community’ on the 14th of March “will outline the journey of Tileyard Studios and the revolutionary transformation of a dilapidated area of London to one of the most exciting music creators’ hubs in the world.”

Conference programming also reflects a continued interest in the ways modern listeners prefer to consume music, with topics ranging from terrestrial radio to digital playlist collaboration on the table for discussion. On one end of that spectrum, ‘Measuring What Matters in a Playlist-First World’ on the 14th of March will dive into the data on digital playlists with discussion about “how to understand and measure them” as well as what those measurements might reveal about “music consumption, marketing, and music creation”. At the other extreme, a session on the 16th of March called ‘Is This the Golden Age of Alternative Radio?’ finds that medium inexplicably “on the rise” and will examine how best to take advantage of its current popularity.

On the related topic of music curation and discovery, Pitchfork founder and editor-in-chief Ryan Schreiber will lead a panel on the 15th of March titled ‘Why Music Journalism Matters in the Streaming Era’, with discussion on “navigating new challenges, providing crucial context, and how to evolve as [music streaming] services threaten to push into the realm of content creation.” The following afternoon, ‘Stop the Scroll: Creative Strategy in Social Media’ will help online curators “learn how to make a creatively driven social strategy . . . [and] deliver campaigns that keep fans coming back for more.”

Artist Issues
Professional issues facing artists in the current music business atmosphere are, as always, at the center of this year’s Music Industry track. Early in the week on the 14th of March, ‘Beyond the Band: Shakey Graves’ will take a look at the “many different elements that comprise a successful career as a musician” in the context of Do617’s Beyond the Band partnership with Berklee College of Music and LATW Group. The featured artist on the panel is Shakey Graves’ Alejandro Rose-Garcia, pictured at top.

In the same vein of cooperation and collaboration, ‘The Band is With Me: The Art of Team Building’ on the 16th of March will talk about how to assemble a strong team of professionals behind a career artist, in the areas of “artist service platforms, PR, development/management, and marketing/touring.” More specifically, ‘What Does an Artist Manager Do and How to Get One’ on the 17th of March will find artist managers sharing “practical, concrete steps every artist can take to go about obtaining management” and ways for “up and coming managers . . . to help grow their clients’ careers exponentially.”

Financial issues are always at the forefront of an artists’ career, and there are many scheduled conference sessions surrounding the delicate topic of money. On the 15th of March ‘New Ways to Finance a Music Career’ will discuss artists’ “options [and] tools to self-finance their career outside of the traditional label/publisher system.” On the 16th of March, ‘We Will Rock You: Make a Big Noise with the Brands’ promises helpful tips on “how you can win that brand and help the brand tell a story [that will] come alive with your music.” In the same time slot, ‘Paid in Full: Fixing Music Rights for Artists’ covers the difficulties of “connecting billions of global streams to the right parties” and “how smart minds are working to find solutions.”

Mentor Sessions
A large number of Mentor Sessions with music industry professionals are listed under the Music Industry track. These sessions require RSVP, and access will only be available to badge types listed as having Primary Access. Featured mentors include record label executives, public relations professionals, artist development managers, marketing specialists and attorneys.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 events we cover here at TGTF, music conference programming is subject to change. We suggest you consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule for the latest additions and editions.

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