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SXSW 2016 Music and Tech: Tipcow

 
By on Thursday, 7th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

One of the perks of being a SXSW 2016 Music conference attendee is access to the SXSW Trade Show. It was my first year to partake in the event taking place during Convergence, the period of the festival when the Film, Interactive and Music parts run concurrently. While I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to stop at all the interesting booths in the Austin Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday, there were a few booths in particular that impressed me with their innovation and creativity. I hope as time goes on, I’ll be able to connect you with some of the fine folks of these companies and organisations in the near future.

First up, I want to introduce you to a local to Austin startup who have sussed out a way for artists to get a compliment, via the ever-important medium of money, directly from the fans. We had a great conversation about a recent move by a cafe in Philadelphia to allow music fans seeing live music there to include a tip to the artist playing on their drink bill. Co-founder of TipCow Rene De La Mora rightly pointed out the inherent problem in this idea: punters then will either shortchange the venue for their food and drink in favour of giving more of their money to the band, or vice versa. TipCow is different, as it’s a free service for artists to connect with their fans and to get paid (or in this case, tipped) for their hard work and efforts in their art, and without a middleman, maximising payments from fan to artist. I asked CEO Chris Bush in his own words explain how their app, now available in the Apple Store and Google Play, works:

TipCow screencap

TipCow is a mobile app and Web service to allow fans to tip their favorite artists. Each artist has a social media profile through our service with a unique URL, allowing direct fan to artist support any time, and for any reason. This URL can be shared on artists’ social media profiles, Web sites, or other online platforms to allow them to receive tips from fans outside of their shows. Artists also have a dashboard to track their tip amounts and locations, so they can make smarter booking decisions based on which venues they see the most support. We also have a very secure, yet simple signup process to guarantee the artists that can be found in the apps are who they say they are.

We directly promote and support artists via http://www.tipcow.live and our social media reach. We have professional photographers on staff to review shows, and work directly with artists to increase their tips at these shows. We also have a tip incentive redemption program in place for select shows to incentivize tipping. We partner with neighboring businesses and venues to give discounts on agreed upon items for tippers, like drink or food discounts. We are currently working on technical features to bring these incentives and many others into the app to bring as much revenue to artists as we possibly can.

Artists currently sign up on the Web site at tipcow.me, and fans can sign up via the app or on the Web site as well.”

We here at TGTF are definitely for any new technology that can increase deserved artists’ incomes and keep them firmly in their livelihoods. More than ever, artists need all the help they can get to keep making music for fans like you and me and all over the world, and this app provides a seamless app to let us help them directly. We’ll definitely be keeping our eye on TipCow and their future innovations in the coming months.

 

SXSW 2016: highlights from this year’s Music Conference programming – The Obamas, Tony Visconti, Richie Hawtin and the latest in song syncs

 
By on Monday, 28th March 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

2016 marked the 30th anniversary of SXSW and with reaching such a milestone, it just wouldn’t be right to not celebrate with appearances by some heavy hitters, right? And the Austin festival managed a one-two punch in his music conference programming by securing not only First Lady Michelle Obama but the President of the United States Barack Obama as well. The President delivered the keynote address during SXSW Interactive on Friday. Watch below as he discusses the importance of civic engagement and his support for new technologies.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfsIZioIpdI[/youtube]

SXSW Music Conference attendees did not miss out at all, as the First Lady graced the conference with her presence Wednesday, bringing along fellow influential ladies Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah, known as female pioneers of hip hop, and Diane Warren, famed for penning some of pop’s greatest hits in the history of popular music. The three of them were in Austin to promote the Let Girls Learn initiative, which will no doubt be one of Mrs. Obama’s enduring legacies long after she and her husband have left the White House. In the short clip below, she speaks on how she finds young people inspirational and disappoints a good many present in the room with her announcement that she won’t be running for public office in favour of taking care of her and Barack’s two young daughters.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdl_W1BhpHw[/youtube]

The Obamas’ separate appearances to speak at SXSW 2016 caused considerable headache to both event staff and conference attendees alike. The understandable security around the First Lady created additional problems, delaying sessions and bringing frustration to people like me who like to keep to a schedule. Not aware that legendary producer Tony Visconti‘s keynote had been moved from Wednesday to Thursday was just another thing to throw a spanner in the works.

One wonders what was going in Visconti’s mind when he received the news that his speech would be delayed by a day due to a more famous, more important VIP. I also had to wonder if his selection was coincidental or done on purpose as a memoriam of sorts for the late David Bowie, with whom Visconti collaborated on and off with for nearly 5 decades. Knowing his audience well, he quipped early on that he’d be speaking about how he met Bowie soon enough, and he did. (Similarly witty stories were shared by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo in another session Thursday afternoon, telling stories about Bowie and Iggy Pop that can’t be reprinted in a family-friendly publication. Mothersbaugh was in town during an exhibition of his art at the Contemporary.) Biographies in print are great of course, but for me, nothing can replace personal, first-hand anecdotes from the people that were there. That’s what makes interviews great for me, to truly be let into another creative’s world, to be let into the little secrets, and part of the fun is doing the research and trying to fit together someone’s pieces before you actually get to the interview and then let your interviewee go off in whatever director he or she wishes.

Hearing Visconti speak, in such a humourous, personable way, it makes total sense how he’s become such a famous producer and been confided in by not just Bowie (being one of the few dear people in his circle aware of his impending departure) but the late glam rock star Marc Bolan and someone as crotchety as Morrissey. Visconti is the kind of guy you wish you could knock a few beers back with because he’d make you feel at ease, but is ever so talented at what he can do in a recording studio, to be able to pull out the best from whoever he works with. And if that wasn’t enough, he is also a writer, sharing with the audience bits from his upcoming book The Universe, that paints a bleak picture of what music will be like in the future.

We can laugh but there’s also a sense of sad acceptance that the signs, the klaxons of warning in our industry have already rung out. “Your product is culture”, Visconti said in a matter-of-fact way, and he believes that boutique labels and self-releasing is a good but not great solution to the lack of support for true visionary artists. He, like us here at TGTF, want to see more quality in music and he gave a great example of going to the grocery store and having variety the kind of ketchup or bacon you want to buy. There isn’t one choice and there shouldn’t one choice in music in all the manufactured top 40 we’re hearing these days, either. Watch Visconti’s keynote in full below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0S406X4sMg[/youtube]

At a session for Convergence late Tuesday night, Canadian DJ vanguard Richie Hawtin spoke with Resident Advisor‘s North American editor Andrew Ryce (pictured at top) about his new performance mixer Play Differently, which has been a project he’s worked on for 2 years with Allen & Heath and Audiotonix. What I found most interesting about Hawtin’s responses – in additional to his clearly unwavering passion for DJaying and electronics – is that he’s not all about chasing the next big thing in electronic music.

You’d expect someone like him who’s into making the best sounds possible onstage to embrace every digital technology known to man, and indeed, he made everyone laugh when he air-manipulated an imaginary device he noted as “this is my girlfriend”. So it surprised me when said that he didn’t necessarily agree with digital DJaying as being the be all and end all, saying, “there shouldn’t be a formula to make music and play it…Follow who you are, and make the music *you* want to make.” In that respect, I felt this view of Hawtin’s echoed Tony Visconti said about tapping into culture and talent and going beyond just mere technology. It gives me great hope personally that these titans of the industry still believe that even in spite to everything distracting and potentially detrimental to our business, the cream should and will always rise to the top. Have a watch of Hawtin’s Q&A with Ryce below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGC03SId70[/youtube]

A topic that has been of interest to me for a long time is the business of song syncs and how one goes from a composer who writes specifically for or has already written a song for a particular commercial use to that composer and any deserving middleman earning money off of the song’s use. As record sales have dwindled in the face of music piracy, song syncing is no longer looked upon as the selling out it once did. And in many cases these days, such syncs have enabled artists to continue working where they might have otherwise run out of money.

Among the many panels on the subject of syncs in this year’s music conference programming, there were two in particular that caught my eye. In the session Creating Custom Songs for Film, TV, Trailers & Ads on Thursday, the emphasis was on the composer side, with the panelists making suggestions to the prospective songwriters in the audience on how to market and indeed, possibly direct their writing to get the best chance for a sync. It was intriguing to me that Josh Collum of Sorted Noise recommended writers to focus on songs about home and coming home, as they’re perennially needed and used across film and TV. Who knew? Meanwhile, Phillip Phillips with his 43 million YouTube views is laughing all the way to the bank…

On the other side and in more specific, the placement of songs in TV was explored Friday in the session entitled TV Promos: Sync’s New Best Friend. Going on from a similar session at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015 last October, it is mind-bogglingly amazing to me that one of the biggest recommendations to fledging artists these days to land a sync is to record good quality, unique cover versions of popular songs. The idea is that because the original song by the original artist will be too expensive and therefore out of reach or too complicated a permission for most copyright clearance offices to negotiate, a music supervisor will instead go for a cover that costs less money, and as a win for the little indie musician, the musician gets paid. Score! A specific example from Joe Berman of MediaHorse brought even more hope: a cover of an Elvis Presley song was deemed too risky, as Presley’s estate had to agree to its use even as a cover, but in a shock turn of events, Priscilla Presley herself liked the cover Berman’s client was putting forward, and it’s now being used in an advert for The Bachelor and for Trojan condoms. So you see, dreams can and do come true…

I look forward to seeing what keynotes and panels are in store for us in the 31st year of SXSW Music. I wish to thank Elizabeth and her team at SXSW Music Press for granting me a badge for the purposes of covering both the conference and music showcases this year in 2016.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: a further roundup of our conference and festival coverage to date

 
By on Monday, 14th March 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Whilst being stuck on a plane (not moving, then moving) for way too many hours on Saturday, I had a lot of time to think. And I thought, hmm, maybe some of you out there might be true procrastinators, not having paid attention to any of the programming on top for SXSW 2016, whether it be the conference panels, the music showcases, or both. For those of you waiting until the last possible minute to firm up your schedules or maybe you’re the type who likes to fly by the seat of your pants (trousers?), this post summarises everything SXSW 2016 we’ve posted since my last roundup of articles on the 22nd of February, which you can view here.

Follow us on Twitter at @tgtf and individually on @theprintedword (me, Mary) and @VocalicPage (Carrie) for more live updates from Austin as they happen. Use this link to access all of our SXSW 2016 content, including post-event coverage.

longhorn in our back garden, SXSW 2016

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016 overview posts on the conference (an additional 5):

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)

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: music discovery and delivery, genres and eras, and international issues (Music Conference panel overview, part 2 of 4)

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Feminism at this year’s festival’s forefront

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: syncing and publishing, experiencing music live, and fan engagement (Music Conference panel overview, part 3 of 4)

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: new tech and the war on format, journalism and PR, and royalties and copyright (Music Conference panel overview, part 4 of 4)

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016 overview posts on the British Music Embassy showcases and a focus on regional acts (an additional 5):

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Huw Stephens with PRS for Music and British Music @ SXSW at the British Music Embassy – 15th-16th March 2016

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Output Belfast, and PIAS in association with AIM at the British Music Embassy – 17th March 2016

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Welsh artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Scottish artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland showcasing at this year’s SXSW

Bands to Watch previews of SXSW 2016 showcasing artists (an additional 5 acts profiled):

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #382: The Sherlocks

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #383: Autobahn

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #384 and #385: Jane Weaver and Holly Macve

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #386: Frances

Album Reviews Featuring SXSW 2016 Artists (an additional 4):

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Album Review: Brian Fallon – Painkillers

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Album Review: Lissie – My Wild West

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Album Review: The Dunwells – Light Up the Sky (Update: The Dunwells have since announced they won’t be showcasing at this year’s SXSW.)

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Album Review: Roo Panes – Paperweights

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions (10)

Quickfire Questions #97: Pat Hynes of Holy Esque

Quickfire Questions #98: Tommy O’Dell of DMA’s

Quickfire Questions #99: Banners

Quickfire Questions #100: Noemi of Abjects

Quickfire Questions #101: Violet Skies

Quickfire Questions #102: Tyla Campbell of The People The Poet

Quickfire Questions #103: Gwenno

Quickfire Questions #104: Avec Sans

Quickfire Questions #105: Oscar

Quickfire Questions #106: Oli Burslem of YAK

Miscellaneous Features Starring SXSW 2016 Artists (an additional 3):

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2024: Oscar

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2025: Holy Esque

(Charity and SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2032: Lissie

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: new tech and the war on format, journalism and PR, and royalties and copyright (Music Conference panel overview, part 4 of 4)

 
By on Thursday, 10th March 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: We’ve made some exciting changes to our annual TGTF Guide to SXSW this year! In addition to the 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 programming for the convention side of SXSW Music. The SXSW Music Conference is divided into 12 general categories of panels, called tracks, and we have divided our panel coverage into four separate articles, each highlighting a different sections of panel content. This is part four of our four-part preview. If you missed the earlier parts of our panel preview series, you can click here to find them.

Music Tech and Format Wars
The music technology track at SXSW 2016 features a wide variety of session topics, ranging from general interest to increasingly specific discussions regarding new modes of music delivery. In the general category, we find Catch the Wave: The Industry’s Transition into Tech on Wednesday 16th March and Music 2020: How We Can Change the Future on Thursday 17th March. The more specialised end of the spectrum includes a Wednesday 16th March panel titled How 3D Printing Can Transform the Music Business.

Monetisation, the topic in the back of everyone’s mind, comes into play with Innovation in Digital Music & Making Streaming Pay on Wednesday 16th March and Music Content Value in a Post-Ownership Age, scheduled for Thursday 17th March. On a related note, the war on leaked and pirated music will be addressed on Friday the 18th of March in Digital Distribution & Security: The End of Piracy, which will center around promotional distribution platforms such as the ones we often use for music reviews here at TGTF.

Thursday the 17th of March will see two niche panels, Preservation Tips for DIY Labels and Indie Bands, and Goodbye to Your Tunes: Tech’s Race to Save Music. These will focus on music recorded in past and current formats (think cassettes, CDs and MP3s) and trying to keep it available as new formats become standard. The beloved vinyl record format will be discussed in its own right on Saturday 19th March, in a forward-looking panel titled Where Will the Vinyl Industry be in 2018?. True audiophiles will rejoice over Listening in High Definition: Future Music Consumption on Wednesday 16th March and Hi-Res Audio in Every Earbud on Thursday 17th March.

PR, Journalism and Media

This track of the Music Conference is loaded with Mentor Sessions for publicists, writers and artists themselves, as well as a Featured Session with guest speaker Jessica Hopper regarding feminism in the music industry. For more information about Jessica Hopper and her panel presentation on that topic, have a look back at our feature on feminism at SXSW 2016 right back here.

How to Get Heard When No One’s Heard of You, scheduled for Wednesday 16th March, and Thursday 17th March workshop DIY Music PR: The Secrets of Pitching Your Band, will talk about pitching music to mid-level blogs and reviewers (like TGTF!). No Basic Pitches: Publicity by the Journalists takes a unique perspective in examining the very fluid relationship between artist PRs and music journalists.

Bob Boilen

Bob Boilen, courtesy of Meg Vogel/NPR

NPR’s Bob Boilen examines music marketing from another unique perspective in The Recording Industry Hates Grownups on Friday the 18th of March. Along with guest panelist Jim Fusilli of the Wall Street Journal, Boilen explores the idea of marketing to the over-40 age demographic, which he suggests is under-represented in the industry.

Royalties and Copyright
Monetisation (again!) is the underlying focus of this conference track, which examines the relationships among the music industry, related private organisations, and government. Hot topics here include Making Streaming Royalties Fair(er) on Wednesday the 16th of March and Fair Music: Transparency in the Music Industry on Friday the 18th. For the artists themselves, two Friday 18th March workshops, The Revenue Stream Roadmap for Songwriters and YouTube: Stop Complaining and Start Monetizing!, offer some guidance on how to make music pay.

Advocacy for artists’ rights will also be a popular topic, with the role of Music Rights Organisations being explored in two panels, Music Rights Organizations (MRO): What Are They? on Wednesday 16th March and One Rights Society To Rule Them All: Meet The GMRO on Friday 18th March. Wednesday 16th March panel The New Artist Rights Grassroots Advocacy will feature guest speaker David Lowery from artist rights blog The Trichordist, and Thursday 17th March session Advocating for Musicians: Why DC Matters will focus on public and governmental advocacy.

As with Music Festival showcasing artists, Music Conference panels are subject to change. For complete information on Music Conference tracks at SXSW 2016, including updated panel listings and scheduling information, you can consult the official SXSW 2016 Web site by clicking here.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: syncing and publishing, experiencing music live, and fan engagement (Music Conference panel overview, part 3 of 4)

 
By on Tuesday, 8th March 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: We’ve made some exciting changes to our annual TGTF Guide to SXSW this year! In addition to the 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 programming for the convention side of SXSW Music. The SXSW Music Conference is divided into 12 general categories of panels, called tracks, and we have divided our panel coverage into four separate articles, each highlighting a different sections of panel content. This is part three of our four-part preview. If you missed the earlier parts of our panel preview series, you can click here to find them.

Licensing, Syncs, and Publishing
This track is all about the benjamins, exploring practical ways for musicians to monetise their craft. In the digital age, the avenues are practically limitless, and artists, publishers and record labels are all competing for a piece of the pie. The more banal panel topics on this track include such self-explanatory titles as Mailbox Money: Making Money in Music Publishing on Wednesday 16 March and Latest Trends and Tips in YouTube Monetization, scheduled for the following day.

But this track also explores facets of the music business that are not as immediately obvious as recording and touring, specifically composing for film, television and advertising, along with publishing and licensing for those ventures. There is a general panel called Creating Custom Songs for Film, TV, Trailers & Ads, on Thursday 17 March as well as several more specifically focused workshops. I’d Like to Teach the World: Music Supervise an Ad, scheduled for Friday 18 March, promises a hands-on workshop experience in creating music for commercial use. Covers & Remixes & Customs – All You Need to Know, on the docket for Thursday 17 March, discusses the customisation of music for movie trailers, such as the one below for recent film ‘The Finest Hours’, featuring Snow Patrol’s 2009 track ‘The Lightning Strike’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Fa6da-yU6Qo[/youtube]

Live Music, Touring & Festival Experiences
As stated in the panel description for Bringing Out Your Fans in the Digital Age, “touring is now the main income source for many artists, and also an important platform to develop and break artists.” On this Friday 18 March panel, guest speaker Zeeshan Zaidi, General Manager of Artist Services at Ticketmaster, will address the all-important question of how to encourage fans to attend live gigs, perhaps also touching on the rather discouraging but widespread practice of ticket scalping. On a tangential subject, the Wednesday 16 March panel Does Social Media Make Concerts Better? examines the prevalence of social networking while attending gigs and how it relates to the overall live music experience.

In the interest of broadening the scope of live performance beyond the confines of physical locality, there are two panels scheduled to discuss broadcasting live events via television and streaming, Concerts & Festivals: Television vs. Streaming, and Livestreaming Events: Past, Present & Future, both on Thursday 17 March. By contrast, live attendance and personal experience are the focus of two Friday 18 March panels, Music Curation Through Artist Festivals and Global Festivals and Their Locales.

Perhaps most relevant to a city like Austin is Small Live Music Venues: Who Needs Them Anymore?, scheduled for Saturday 19 March. The bustling downtown music scene in the Texas capitol surely makes a strong affirmative case. That workshop might be a good follow-up to one of the Thursday 18 March evening panels, David & Goliath: Thriving as Independent Promoters, where Stephen Chilton of Arizona’s Psyko Steve Presents will be featured as a guest panelist. I can personally vouch for some of the shows Chilton has presented at small venues in my local area, including Frank Turner at The Pressroom in Phoenix last October.

Marketing and Fan Engagement
Tangential to the above Live Music track, this category features panels relating to how artists reach new fans and retain already established ones. Thursday 17 March panel Stream to Ticket: Mapping the Value of Discovery focuses on the live music experience as the basis of music sales and seeks to capitalise on that trend. The Influence of UK Fandoms, scheduled for Wednesday 16 March, is a panel near and dear to our own hearts here at TGTF. It promises to challenge the idea that America is the gold standard for music success, citing The Beatles and One Direction as obvious examples of UK artists who carried their appeal across the pond, as well as American acts like Haim who broke first in the UK before gaining recognition at home.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Ho32Oh6b4jc[/youtube]

Panels dealing with Internet and social media marketing strategies abound, including The Art of Impactful Content: Standing Out in 2016 on Friday 18 March, How Major Labels Build Rockstar-Worthy Websites on Thursday 17 March, and Modern SEO for Bands and Brands, with SEO being short for Search Engine Optimisation, also scheduled for Thursday. Not to be left out, another Thursday session titled Radio Re-tuned for the Music Ecosystem features Radio Disney General Manager Phil Guerini discussing how the seemingly archaic radio format is adapting to compete in the ever-evolving multimedia music context.

Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of our Music Conference panel preview, which posts this Thursday, the 10th 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.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: music discovery and delivery, genres and eras, and international issues (Music Conference panel overview, part 2 of 4)

 
By on Thursday, 3rd March 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: We’ve made some exciting changes to our annual TGTF Guide to SXSW this year! In addition to the 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 programming for the convention side of SXSW Music. The SXSW Music Conference is divided into 12 general categories of panels, called tracks, and we have divided our panel coverage into four separate articles, each highlighting a different sections of panel content. This is part two of our four-part preview. If you missed the earlier parts of our panel preview series, you can click here to find them.

Discovery and Delivery
It’s definitely an interesting time for music discovery. When I was in high school, you found out about music on the radio and MTV. These days, you can go on Spotify, have a listen to what artists the service recommends you listen to, and you can also check out what your favourite artists are listening to and what playlists of favourites they’ve put together. No wonder there’s a session called The State of Alternative Radio: Where Do We Go From Here? The airwave real estate on which bands that would have appeared without a doubt on alt-rock stations 20 years ago is now being encroached on by more mainstream, top 40 artists (Friday 18 March). The panel called How Radio is Shaping the ‘Entertain Me’ Button (Thursday 17 March), then, makes sense as providing the possible solution in the form of interactive, ‘smart’ radio. And if radio leaves you cold, check out The Art of Creating the Perfect Playlist (Thursday 17 March) and Tastemakers: Music Curation and Merchandising (Wednesday 16 March).

Four sessions in this conference track will focus on labels and A&R and represent the diverse options available to current artists. While Atlantic Records bods will provide their advice about the traditional model, from their established patch, through the A&R: The Craft of Making Records at a Major Labels panel on Friday 19 March, From Vine to Signed: The Future of A&R on Saturday 20 March will discuss how innovations in the social music space have changed talent discovery and how artists are signed. On Thursday 17 March will be the self-explanatory Creative Convergence: Artists as Labels, and what appears to be its sister session, Do Musicians Still Need Record Labels? to follow on Friday 18 March.

Genres and Eras
One of the smartest, special things about SXSW Music conference programming is that without fail, every year the organisers tap the incredible experience by music greats past in special keynotes and q&a sessions. 2016 is no exception. The keynote on Wednesday 16 March starring famed producer Tony Visconti will be particularly poignant, given his long-time association with the late David Bowie, including his work on the Berlin album trilogy. Want to relive the ‘80s? In the following hour at the convention center, you can head on over to USA Today reporter Mike Snider’s interview of female artist trailblazer Pat Benatar and her producer, songwriter husband Neil Giraldo. If you want to go even further back in time, you can do so on Thursday 17 March, when Dion – famed for his bewitching voice and megahits ‘Teenager in Love’, ‘Runaround Sue’ and ‘The Wanderer’ – will be chatting with The Orchard’s Richard Gottehrer about his career and his new album that will be out this year.

As described in Carrie’s preview of panels and showcasing artists with a feminist bent, Ann Powers will be chatting with Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, actress, and supporter of social causes Angelique Kidjo on Friday 18 March. If you’re in the mood for something left of centre by the time Saturday 20 March rolls around, SXSW has got that for you too: Canadian celebrity interviewer and all around crazy man Nardwuar the Human Serviette (who, for some inexplicable, amazing reason, is now following TGTF on Twitter) will be giving a talk and playing clips from his favorite audio and video interviews from his Video Vault.

Here now in the music liberation we feel and enjoy in the 21st century, we make take for granted that there were musical pioneers who came before that paved the way for the art we enjoy now. In Wardy Forty: When Dylan Met Woody, the untold story of Woody Guthrie’s life will be revealed, along with the pivotal moment when he met Bob Dylan and passed the torch for protest music, through photos, letters and the recollections of friends and family. No Future: 1976 and the Birth of Punk on Wednesday 16 March will discuss the importance of the Sex Pistols, Siousxie Sioux and the Banshees, the Slits and what the whole movement did for popular music as we know it.

We here at TGTF believe that the reported death of rock ‘n’ roll has been greatly exaggerated. However, for those conventioneers who wish to hear the many facets of this story, Back from the Dead: Is Rock & Roll on Life Support? is available to you. And indeed, who would be best to set this unfounded rumour to rest but the country that brought us Rammstein and The Scorpions? A Head Bangers Guide to Rock in Germany will bring you up to speed with the heavy metal scene in the Fatherland.

On the other side of the spectrum is a type of music that hasn’t been around nearly as long as folk, rock or punk but is ever growing in importance and influence. The genre of hip hop and the unique challenges its artists face get their due in the Can’t Tell Me Nothing: Independent Hip Hop (Thursday 17 March) and Understanding the Business of Christian Hip Hop (Friday 18 March) sessions.

International Issues
Music that might have once been confined to being spread to an originating band or artist’s home country or even region of a country now has the ability to be spread far and wide. Borders have dissolved, thanks to the internet. While the phenomenon of UK bands being discovered in America has just ramped up with this dissolution, things that might not ever have been possible – say, a fan club for a UK band starting up in the Philippines – prove the power and reach of the modern musical artist. But with the benefits of the far reach of the music industry comes additional, increasingly complicated obstacles for artists wanting to succeed.

The Real Book on Immigration for Musicians on Thursday 17 March looks to be one of the most useful sessions of SXSW Music this year, as it will touch on temporary work visas and other important immigration issues faced by bands, their management, and their staff. What else are bands worried about these days? Money, of course. Touring in Europe: Tax Obstacles (Friday 18 March) will address head on the half of Ben Franklin’s famous quote that we all dread but need to deal with.

Speaking of money, did you know that the EU are currently trying to develop new laws on how copyright will work within its confines? I sure didn’t. Seeing that Europe is a major market for music made in America and most everywhere else, it’s worth attending What is the EU Doing to My Music Rights? on Thursday 17 March if you’re interested in finding out what’s going to happen to your royalties there (and you should be paying attention).

With the great economic boom in Asia continuing on, it’s no wonder that the continent is looked upon with great interest as not only a place where artists can go and play to large, adoring crowds of fans. In Go East: Rising Force of the Greater China Market (Thursday 17 March), opportunities for Western artists to collaborate with those in the Far East will be explored. Developments in mobile music, e-commerce, and touring markets will also be under the microscope. India, expected to be a top 10 global market for this industry by 2019, will be the subject of its own panel on Saturday 20 March, The Opportunities in the Music Business in India.

Stay tuned for the third installment of our Music Conference panel preview. It posts next Tuesday, the 8th 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.

 
 
 

About Us

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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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