March 13, 2012 | EXCLUSIVE
Exclusive: Ginger Baker Documentarian To Next Tackle Bill Laswell
"Beware of Mr. Baker" director Jay Bulger (center) and producer Fisher Stevens (right) are interviewed during the film's press day on Sunday, March 11.
After just a single screening on Saturday night, Jay Bulger's "Beware of Mr. Baker" became one of the most talked about films of the festival on Sunday (March 11). And while producers Andrew Karsch, Fisher Stevens and Erik H. Gordon are working on lining up more festivals and talking to distribution partners, Bulger is laying the groundwork for his second documentary, a feature on Bill Laswell.
While documenting the life of Ginger Baker in "Beware" meant moving in with Ginger Baker in South Africa, Bulger aims to take on Laswell's work in Ethiopia where he is working on projects based on the country's musical history. Laswell is married to the popular Ethiopian singer Egigayehu Shibabawu, also known as GiGi, who is living in exile in the U.S.
"Bill has made it his life's goal to do for Ethiopian music what (Island Records founder) Chris Blackwell did for Jamaica," Bulger tells Billboard. "Bill's gone there and he's building studios trying to mobilize and record their history. He's doing it all to teach his son where he came from. It's really beautiful. Bill, to me, is the next step in terms of musical explorers - he's played every genre there is but because he's a producer/bassist, he gets lost in history."
Since the 1970s, Laswell has made a career out of bringing various genres together into single projects, working with John Lydon in a hip-hop setting, Herbie Hancock's electric music such as "Rockit," creating ambient dub versions of the music of Miles Davis and Bob Marley and, for the last decade, funk, Ethiopian and reggae fusions.
"Beware of Mr. Baker" tells the story of drummer Baker, whose life runs from superstardom in Cream to playing with Fela Kuti for six years, working with jazz legends, turning to polo and dealing with broken marriages and heroin addiction for decades. Laswell brought in Baker to record on Public Image Ltd.'s 1986 release "Album."
March 13, 2012 | Photo
Photo: Billboard's Bill Werde, Spotify's Ken Parks, Disturbed's David Draiman
SXSW Spotify and The Future of Music Consumption panel (from left): Billboard's Editorial Director Bill Werde, Spotify's chief content officer Ken Parks and Disturbed's David Draiman.
March 13, 2012 | Backbeat
Backbeat: The Parlotones Talk Touring Apps @ Skype's Eat, Drink and Be Human Party
Skype hosted the Eat, Drink, and Be Human event complete with an interactive stage where fans could jam with their favorite artists while they played in real time, with such acts as Tribes, the Parlotones, RJD2, and Neon Trees. The South African-bred Parlotones sat down with us at Billboard.biz and shared why SXSWi and technology are so important to them.
The Parlotones with manager Raphael Domalik (center, left) and Alicia Yaffe (center, right) from the Spellbound Group. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
The Spellbound Group, the Parlotones' marketing agency, noted that not only is SXSWi one of the more important events for the band and its fans, it is also a great testing ground for innovations the band is doing. For instance, they have a mobile app launching in April that will allow fans to travel with them around the world. Each fan will get a digital and physical passport that stamps Parlotones events they attend throughout the tour.
The band's' manager, Raphael Domalik, said that technology is a key component to the band's success. "We run the band like a corporation," he said. "We all get salaries, including the band members, and we reinvest our funds in the band similar to that of a research and development model at a tech firm."
The Parlotones hit the stage at Skype's Eat, Drink, and Be Human Party. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
Parlotones lead singer Kahn Morbee on stage. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
March 13, 2012 | Backbeat
Backbeat: Jay-Z's SXSW Concert, With Roc Nation, Pepsi, Twitter, Foursquare, MSG Execs & More
Jay Z rocking the mic and the crowd at Austin City Limits on Monday night (Photo: Brandon Fuller)
Jay-Z's concert at Austin City Limits on Monday night was one of the most hotly anticipated events of the entire South by Southwest conference, and even with literally hundreds of other events going on, the scene backstage and elsewhere at the show left little doubt that it was The Place To Be in Austin.
The audience for the show - officially titled the Amex Sync Show Presenting Jay-Z, for which we hear the company spent well into seven figures -- was largely made up of American Express users who won tickets to see Hova in an intimate (2,700-capacity) venue, but there were also tech, media and of course music-biz celebs in the house.
New York Times editor Jill Abramson was there with her son, Cantora Records co-founder Will Griggs; Foursquare's Dennis Crowley and Tristan Walker and members of the team from hotly tipped photo-editing startup Aviary mingled at pre-show reception before rocking out. Also in the house were Roc Nation's John Meneilly and Dorothy Hui, PepsiCo's Richie Cruz, Universal's Jon Vanhala, Facebook's Ime Archibong, Madison Square Garden Entertainment's Shannon Fitzgerald and Katie Forte, Fuse's Liana Huth and Joe Marchese, Virgin Management's Christine Choi, Twitter's Ryan Sarver, Momentum's Joe Killian, Bowery Presents' Jason Ross.
Amid the usual SXSW chatter, people were talking about the controversial homeless hotspots and who could possibly be a guest at the show. While Jay's appearance at SXSW last year came during Kanye West's guest-fest, there were no surprise performers here -- although Jay did shout out Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park from the stage.
From left: Facebook's Ime Archibong with Universal's
Jon Vanhala (Photo: Bill Werde)
Watching the Throne: Jay Z, being photographed by hundreds at Austin City Limits. (Photo: Brandon Fuller)
Will Griggs, co-founder of Cantora Records, poses with Alisa Simon-Gould, founder of the fashion app Pose, at the Jay-Z reception. (Photo Courtney Harding)
Aviary's Alex Taub (left) and Michael Gilpert (Photo: Courtney Harding)
Jay-Z onstage (Photo: Brandon Fuller)
March 13, 2012 | Product Launch
Rdio Announces Major Changes At SXSW Event
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Rdio, the music subscription service from Skype and Kazaa co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, announced major changes to its music subscription service designed to "put music and people front and center," in an effort to evolve past what it calls the "boring" "spreadsheet" approach of some other music services.
The company unveiled new apps for the web and desktop with bigger artwork and easy-to-use social features, and announced that it now has more than 15 million songs -- approximately as many as any other subscription music service. But today's announcement mainly focused on the service's slick redesign by Wilson Miner, formerly of Apple.com and Django, pictured below.
"We don't think music and art should be presented the same way as quarterly sales data in a spreadsheet," said Rdio vice president of product Malthe Sigurdsson at today's event. "In our minds, it deserves more. It deserves better. We focus on the album... we want the album art to come back into focus [with] big beautiful bold artwork. We believe the experience really matters and are willing to spend time, money and effort on that."
Rdio designer Wilson Miner displays his redesign at SXSW 2012
The site now loads faster between views and plays music faster when you click it; includes a navigation bar so you always know where you are; and is "more social" with a strip on the right side that shows your friends, so you can share music with them. The new Rdio focuses on a new "heavy rotation" view (pictured above) so you can access your favorite stuff faster. Other views include recent activity, top charts, new releases, your playlists, and your friends' playlists.
Miner's new design adapts to larger or smaller screens, so if you have a massive monitor, you'll see more stuff, and even bigger artwork. On a smaller screen, the design crunches down to display as much as it can.
In a move possibly borrowed from Facebook, you can see what your friends are listening to and listen along in real time with them. Going beyond Facebook's real-time listening feature, you can also share playlists directly to specific friends by simply dragging the playlists onto their names -- or onto Facebook or Twitter. In the demo, the drag-and-drop features (also including playlist creation) looked pretty slick.
Rdio also now makes it easier to meet people. When you sign in, it suggests other users to become friends with -- as well as record labels like 4AD and magazines like XLR8R.
"With the new Rdio, we've gone even further, making it simpler, faster and more beautiful to create an experience that's all about music and people," he added.
Like the other monthly music subscriptions, Rdio costs $10 per month if you want to use it on computers and smartphones or $5 per month for the web/desktop version only. It adds a unique family plan option with pricing that varies depending on how many family members subscribe. The new service rolls out today in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal and Denmark.
This story was updated in real time throughout Rdio's launch event at SXSW 2012. Here's the full feature list from the company:
• New look and feel: More than just a spreadsheet of songs, the new Rdio puts music and people front and center.
• All in one place: Less time spent navigating leaves more time for discovering. Music, playlists and your network are now contained in one streamlined view.
• Browse even faster: Find music at lightning speed with pages that remember your place. Browse through a continuous stream of albums, explore one and easily return to the place you left off-no more repeated scrolling or saving multiple tabs in a browser.
• Adaptive layout: Rdio resizes intuitively based on browser window size. Music and content instinctively adapt across all screens.
• Listen with your network: From the People Sidebar, see what your network is listening to in real-time and listen along with one-click.
• Let your network inspire your listening: Wondering if you'll like an album in the charts or why it appeared in your Heavy Rotation? Hover over photos underneath every album on Rdio and see exactly who in your network has listened to it.
• Sharing made simple: Drag and drop music into playlists or collections and share with others on Rdio without missing a beat. Music can also be shared on Facebook, Twitter or via email.
• Create private playlists: In addition to public and collaborative playlists, now private playlists can be created and shared with just a select few, if desired.
• Add entire albums to playlists: Now add entire albums to playlists in an instant. One of Rdio's most-requested features is now a reality.
• Easily discover people to follow: Check out Rdio's latest music influencers in the People Sidebar and find others to follow such as artists, critics, record labels and brands. Instantly connect to Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm and Rdio will also recommend people to follow based on friends in those networks.
March 13, 2012 | Backbeat
Backbeat: Tumblr, The Barbarian Group Host RoboTrip Party With WAVVES, Oberhofer, Kool Keith
Mathew Dear Band hits the stage at the Barbarian Group/Tumblr RoboTrip Party. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
Fans were rocking as The Barbarian Group and Tumblr hosted the biggest rock party of SXSWi at local Austin favorites Club Deville and Mohawk Monday night. The venues came together and gave music fans three stages of a mix of indie rock, pop, techno, hip-hop, and rock, with performances by WAVVES, Kool Keith, Japandroids, Sleep Over, Beach Fossils, Oberhofer, The Young, Grape St., The Sour Notes, Isabel J & ulovei, Hobo D, Tim Sweeny, Mathew Dear, Mike Simonetti, and Orthy. Fans were on their feet from start to finish across all three stages.
Wavves was one of the big indie names on the bill. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
Kool Keith set the crowd alight. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
Kool Keith at the RoboTrip party. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
March 13, 2012 | PANEL
SXSWi Panel Explores The Future of High Quality Audio, 4K Televisions
While some SXSW attendees were choosing between happy hour or Sean Parker's interview of Al Gore ("If you like platitudes, then it was great," the Los Angeles Times' Jon Healey said afterward), some fortunate people were getting a helpful crash course in tomorrow's technologies. At " The Future of Innovation and Consumer Electronics," Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, and Richard Watson, co-founder and president of Essential, presented the audience with something like a Cliff's Notes version of today's most important trends in consumer electronics innovation. The panel was moderated by Kevin O'Malley, president of Tech Talk/Studio.
One music-related trend brought up in the panel is high-quality audio. Apple's white ear buds were the aspirational audio product of the early MP3 era, but now big headphones are the big aspirational product, said Shapiro. "For 15 years we got away from quality audio, and now we're going back to it." Indeed, audio quality has slowly improved over the years as both consumers and digital services sought to improve upon the low quality compressed files of the early iPod days. High-quality downloads are now easier to find - Apple just launched the Mastered for iTunes line of specially mastered tracks - and many subscription services and Internet radio services stream at a higher bit-rate than in the past. On the hardware side, companies like Beats By Dre are taking high-quality audio mainstream with over-the-ear headphones and improved audio in personal computers and mobile devices.
Another coming trend is 4K resolution for televisions. 4K is a standard for picture resolution in digital film and computer graphics. The name comes from the roughly 4,000 pixels in its horizontal resolution. Consumer electronics manufacturers quietly rolled out some 4K televisions at this year's CES in Las Vegas. There is currently a lack of content for 4K and few consumers buying the devices, but Shapiro is bullish on it. "It will look like 3D."
Shapiro also predicted lower costs of high-definition televisions will allow for more in-home screens - some in unexpected places. He likes the idea of wall television where six walls - four walls plus the floor and ceiling - are turned into displays video, game or other things. "The cost has gone down so dramatically that all this is foreseeable. The question is, 'Will there be demand for it?'"
While convergence - multi-use mobile devices filled with apps - have been a clear trend in recent years, Watson and Shapiro both predict an increase in limited-use devices that focus on one application. Watson, whose company has designed products for companies ranging from Dell to Owens Corning, explained that physical products improve performance by maintaining simplicity. A device used for healthcare, for example, would benefit from a single-app focus. The idea could even extend to music devices that specialize in one app, such as a speaker married just to one music service.
But innovation isn't easy. Shapiro said he has seen many mistakes from companies at SXSW who weren't sure what they're doing with their products. "Innovation requires mentoring and capital," he said. Entrepreneurs could soon get help with the latter. Shapiro was especially excited that the U.S. House of Representatives' JOBS Act passed last week includes a provision that will allow entrepreneurs to receive small amounts of "crowdfunding" capital via social media - but without current regulations that would otherwise limit this strategy. "If the Senate will act… this JOBS Act will make a difference so people can get money."
Austin Film Festival organizers, from left, Matt Dy, Taylor Cumbie, Stephen Jannise and Amanda K. Martin gather at the Star Bar on Sunday morning. The Austin Film Festival threw its third annual Hair of the Dog brunch on Sunday to spread the word about this year's event that runs Oct. 18 to 25. Fest film program director Stephen Jannise says he looks to have most of it programmed in August, but he heads to Toronto each year in September to grab some last minute titles. It is the one fest in Austin without an emphasis on music. "Music always plays well so we always have four or five," Jannise says. "It's best when we have docs and the bands play after the screenings." (Photo/text: Phil Gallo)
March 13, 2012 | KEYNOTE
Sean Parker, Al Gore Deliver SXSWi Talk On Power of Tech and Democracy -- Online and Off
Sean Parker and Al Gore took the stage at the SXSWi keynote speech to express one main point: "Democracy no longer works to serves the best interests of the people in this country," Gore said. The two believe the people have the power to create a sea change in the United States through technology and that our Democracy as we know it is dependent upon it.
At the core of their speech was the notion of "Occupy Democracy," playing on last year's populist and tech-savvy Occupy Wall Street movement. The two said that the power and reach of media is clear, but unclear is the power of social media and its ability to create movements at local, national and international levels. They encouraged people to move beyond clicks, likes and "armchair activism" and called upon the tech community to create utilitarian technologies for the greater good.
"Our democracy has been hacked," Gore said.
The address began by laying out the continued power of television as the predominant political medium Television, they said, is a one-way communication system controlled by gatekeepers and money. They cited statistics showing TV viewership up with half the people on the web simultaneously watching television. Politicians, supporters and the interests that fund them, according to Parker and Gore, understand this dynamic.
Parker and Gore said the solution to much of what ails our society can be solved by people fighting for what they believe in both on and offline. The inordinate power of money in the U.S. economy and political system, the two said, can be stemmed through the joint power of technology and people.
"One out of every six people will hold a political office in the United States at some point in their life," Parker claimed. This, he believes, will enable people to create change in the U.S. through not just technology, but through democracy, too.
In the long-term Parker suggested the solution is to change the way political leaders are elected. In the short-term the barrier to entry, he said, is simply information inefficiencies. He called upon the SXSWi community to educate the population, enable them with the power and tools technology can provide to get them off the couch, beyond the click, and into action.
March 13, 2012 | PANEL
Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan Goes Off at SXSWi Chat
AUSTIN -- If anyone expected Billy Corgan to hold himself back during a one-on-one conversation with author Brian Solis during their talk at SXSW today - which was titled "The End of Business As Usual" after Solis's recent book -- well, they haven't been paying attention much to the Smashing Pumpkins' frontman's contrarian take on the music business. He compared new artists to strippers and said, "I was part of a generation that changed the world - and it was taken over by poseurs."
Corgan - who's still mid-cycle of his self-released opus Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, eventually planned to be a 44-track record released in installments - was a veritable quote machine, waxing poetic (and occasionally blue) about his disdain for the current state of Alternative rock, his distrust of YouTube, and the very real struggles todays emerging artists go through just to get heard.
The event started with a song from up-and-comer Jake Dilly, singer-songwriter for Minneapolis's The Color Pharmacy, who played a tongue-in-cheek acoustic ditty he claimed to have written specifically for the event, only hours earlier. "The world wide web has changed the speed of sound," he sung. "MySpace is dead but Timberlake is giving it mouth to mouth!"
Later, Corgan would use Dilly and artists like him as an example, saying that to gain mainstream attention for his talent these days, he'd have to set himself on fire on YouTube. Even that, Corgan claimed, would likely not be enough. "[Artists that break through now] have grown up thinking that being famous is the goal," he said. "Not to be respected - not to be dangerous." He compared breakthrough artists to prostitutes, saying, "[once you make that deal] you're just the fresh stripper."
That said, Corgan acknowledged that even when he was coming up, the system wasn't perfect. "I knew I was being exploited," he said, "but there was a Faustian bargain to be made." He discussed watching Lana Del Rey's Saturday Night Live performance ("It doesn't surprise me that she crashed and burned, because she wasn't ready for it," he said. "I didn't think it was that bad.")
If there was an overarching theme, though, it's that both musicians and technology are feeding the mentality that fame is what should be hoped for, leaving artistry in its wake.
"Don't call it rock and roll," Corgan said. "I was part of a generation that changed the world - and it was taken over by poseurs."
March 12, 2012 | ROUND-UP
Weekend Diary: Anything from Citizen Journalism to Branded Parties
Thanks to the rain, panel sessions were jamming all weekend seeing their attendance going up with show goers colliding in all the various indoor areas.
Non-entertainment based panels found themselves filled with attentive listeners, such as "Tweeting Obama's Death: From Citizen to Journalist" which was help at the Sheraton, a nearby hotel.
At 33 years old, Sohaib Attar had become "the man who live-tweeted Osama's death" accidently embracing the identity of a citizen journalist.
Attar, the man who live-tweeted Osama's death, speaking at SxSW.
From 750 twitter followers the day before the intervention, Attar shared his observations-with about 105,000 followers-as well as the findings of his interactions with other peers, and his follow-up investigative photos. These follow ups are what-according to Myers from the Poynter Institute-made him a true journalist.
The Man on the Street
Nathan Wright, a digital and social media strategist who came all the way from Silicon Prairie (i.e. Iowa) - he actually spoke last year and the year before at SxSW - can be seen here hanging out in front of the TimeHop car.
Timehop is a digital time capsule of your tweets and Foursquare checkings from a year ago.
Branded entertainment at SxSW or when SxSW has become an advertising platform?
Free seafood available at a FedEx near you (in this case, directly from the truck)
Pepsi helps you buy a soda for someone on the other side of the world… useful?
CNN not afraid to promote alcohol consumption.
Last night, rather than walking on Sixth Avenue, people flocked to the various parties which is for brands a very important playground to compete on with each others.
CNET hosted a sought-after party featuring Delta Spirit. Greg Ackerman, our good friend from the Austin Concerts Examiner, worked up his biceps while filming the band performing on Maggie Mae's stage.
Preceeding The Delta Spirit, was the excellent 1980's New Wave band The Spazmatics
Video of concert:
Now leaving you with AMEX's Jay Z's sync show livestream here at 8pm ET tonight.
-Sandira Calviac, Austin
March 12, 2012 | SHOWCASE
Turntable.fm's SXSW Interactive Party featuring Flying Lotus, AraabMuzik
Flying Lotus spins at the Turntable.fm party that had fans lined up around the block for hours. (Photo Courtesy of Turntable.fm)
Turntable.fm's party at the ND at 501 Studios featuring Flying Lotus and AraabMuzik was the hottest thing on a Saturday night filled with tech meetups and a handful of music performances.
A line had already formed outside the venue at 2pm, said Turntable.fm digital publicist Russell Ward of digital marketing agency the Confluence . By the 8pm door time, a line with hundreds of people had snaked down the corner and made its way down East 6th St. Ninety minutes later the line had lost only a few people. If you were on the RSVP, you might have gotten in. Badge holders could get in with some effort, and it seemed like a crap shoot for everybody else.
The long line was due to both Turntable.fm's popularity and the lineup of DJs. This wasn't a mild tech meetup or subdued startup happy hour. This party was definitely all about the music. Presented by Pepsi and powered by Intel, the party featured Flying Lotus, AraabMuzik, Deejay Theory, Upper West and Brenton Duvall. The familiar glow of smartphones was surprisingly absent given the occasion.
People Billboard.biz ran into at the show were: Turntable.fm co-founder Seth Goldstein; musician Luc Reynaud (of Luc & the Lovingtons) and his manager, Jeremiah Alexis, also known as the Urban Nomad ( check him out on YouTube); Jessica Meehan, digital director at Mick Management; Justin Levenson, Manager, Licensing Operations at SESAC; Mat Whittington of C3 Artist Management and Jon Romero, new media marketing at Vector Management.
March 12, 2012 | PANEL
SXSW Social Music Marketing Panel: Music Branding About Expressions, Not Impressions
(L-R) Courtney Blacker, Umut Ozaydinli, Panos Panay, Dan Vinh, and Brad Josling discuss music marketing on the Next Stage in the Austin Convention Center (Photo: Jeff Miller)
A panel entitled "Social Media Marketing: Bands, Brands, and Fans" and moderated by SonicBids founder Panos Panay suggested an eye to the future of marketing, so it's surprising that a key theme of the five-participant panel was marketing's history with music. Umut Ozaydinli of Deviant Ventures described his surprise when he found out that his client Coca-Cola has been using music for marketing since the early 1900s, first with opera, and then with pop artists like Aretha Franklin.
"Music has always been an amazing way for marketeers to build a relationship," he said. "With social media, it's more colorful - you can do a lot more."
The rest of the panel agreed. Courtney Blacker, of JanSport, described the way her company - known for backpacks and bags geared towards the youth demographic - found that music played a key role in expanding their visibility. "We found our brand had great synergy with music," she said, after describing their successful partnership with SonicBids. "Music is a big part of who our consumer is."
Panelist Dan Vinh works with the music programming at Renaissance Hotels, who've been putting on concerts at their properties as part of a venture to reposition the brand in the lifestyle space expanding on their reputation as a place for, as he put it, "a bed and a hot shower." "We have to make sure it's an organic and authentic experience," he said of their recent initiative to have concerts in their lobbies. "We have to make sure that everyone at the hotel really believes it and lives it."
Vinh also talked about the connection between musicians who play at a Renaissance and their social media fans, explaining that he'd like fans who discover bands at his hotels to have a relationship with them that extends much further than a one-off experience. But Brad Josling, from HIP Digital, who works with brands like Bacardi on their music marketing, took a more hard-and-fast number approach to the benefits of marketing digitally. "You can find out a lot about your customer," he said. "Where they're shopping. How they're engaged on social media. We provide pretty extensive reporting."
Added Ozaydinli, "Brands used to be all about impressions. Now it's about expressions. If I can get you to like the brand [based on our music relationships], and say something on your social network, a friend of yours is more likely to make a purchase decision."
Of course, that only works if the fan trusts the brand in the first place. "The most succesful brands," Panay said, "are the ones where music fits into the brand ethos. Music has actually been part of marketing for over 100 years. It's about sticking around for the long term."
March 12, 2012 | PANEL
The Wild - and Sometimes Productive - World of Music Apps
Music apps can be fun, serious and really strange. Some might prove useful for a few days while others could be entirely transformative. The entire spectrum could be found at an entertaining panel called "Music Apps Gone Wild," a recap of some notable music apps seen over the last year by Evolver.fm founder Eliot Van Buskirk.
Crowdjuke could be one of those transformative apps. Created last year by Facebook engineer Matt Kelly at Music Hack Day SF, Crowdjuke creates a playlist for an event - a wedding, a birthday party - by examining the tastes of people who have RSVP'd for the event via Facebook.
One app can help composers get out of a jam. Van Buskirk showed an app for Noteflight created at Music Hack Day that will compose part of a melody. Noteflight is a web-based composition tool that lets users create, view, print and hear music notation right there in the web browser. The hack taps into a database of compositions to help fill in missing notes. "I think we're going to see this in rock and all kinds of genres," he predicted, adding, "It might be cheating, but maybe not as much as Auto-Tune."
Tomahawk solves a particular pain point for serious digital music nerds: people listen to music from a wide variety of sources. Usually a song on one service cannot be played on another service or application. This limitation means songs are experienced within silos. But Tomahawk takes a music playlist and resolves the songs from a variety of sources. Thus, songs that originate from a variety of sources - Spotify, Rdio,
Not all apps solve pain points. Pugs Luv Beats is a game-like app that creates sounds as the user play. "It's kind of a novelty, but who cares?" Federic the Resurrection of Music is a Guitar-hero like game with a Frederic Chopin as the protagonist that Buskirk called "so deeply weird."
From left: $ellebrity Executive Producer David Wild, Singer Sheryl Crow, filmmaker and photographer Kevin Mazur (Photo: Michael Buckner/ WireImage)
Sheryl Crow was a late arrival to the world premiere screening of "$ellebrity," Kevin Mazur's documentary on paparazzi and celebrity gossip media, the result of bad weather delaying her flight. She was able to jump in on the tail end of one of the festival's longer post-screening Q&A's to address one of the film's central points -- should there be laws about the use of photos of celebrities' children? Crow, naturally, wishes lenses stayed away from her children Wyatt and Levi and she noted that her move to Nashville was partly driven by her desire to lead a quieter, less celebrity-obsessed life.
Elton John, Kid Rock and Crow are the only musicians featured in the film. She also made the point that so many people have their noses buried in celebrity magazines that she can walk through airports and not be stopped or even recognized by people obsessed with bold-faced names.
A screen grab from the Sellebrity website.
After "$ellebrity" had its premiere at the Alamo Lamar, the entourage moved to the patio at the W Hotel in downtown where Beggars Banquet label founder Martin Mills, "Austin City Limits" producer Terry Lickona and Piper Cub Productions CEO Jeanne Elfant Festa were hanging with "Sellebrity" executive producer David Wild.
Mills has a slew of bands coming to Austin, among them the Alabama Shakes who will be filming an episode of "Austin City Limits" on Tuesday. Other Beggars acts heading to town include Girls, SBTRKT and Jack White.
Wild, who conducted all of the interviews with celebrities, said a crew flew to England specifically to shoot Elton John and they wound up with a block of time on a day he was throwing a party. "We had six minutes," Wild said, "and the best part of the interview was a minute and half of him explaining why he agreed to perform at Rush Limbaugh's wedding, which we couldn't use. Usually you shoot an hour just to get five minutes. I think everything Elton said on camera is in the film."
March 12, 2012 | NEWS
Shady Records 2.0 Releases SXSW Showcase Teaser
Shady Records 2.0 released a quick, 15-second teaser video promoting their SXSW Showcase Friday night, where 50 Cent will be performing Get Rich Or Die Trying in its entirety for the first time ever.
Also appearing at the show will be Shady 2.0 artists Yelawolf and supergroup Slaughterhouse, featuring Royce da 5'9, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden and Crooked I. The video also promises "very special Shady guests!" Dare we speculate a certain slim executive might make an appearance?
Check out the video below.
March 12, 2012 | PERSON ON THE STREET
Cecy Correa, Austin, TX (Photo: Kim Loop)
Billboard.biz: What are you most excited about at SXSWi this year?
Cecy Correa: All the talks about branding have been really good.
Who have you met/do you hope to meet that you're really excited about?
The guys from the Stuff You Should Know podcast. I've been listening to their show for like three years. They're so familiar to me... It's nice to put a face to a voice.
What bands are you most excited to see?
Temper Trap. Their last record is really really solid. Also Third Eye Blind. They played last night. It was awesome. They totally rocked it... It really surprised me.
March 12, 2012 | PHOTO
I n a town flooded by thousands of musicians and industry execs, how do you get noticed? The band Interstellar Transmissions
were hard to miss performing atop a New Life Fellowship bus on Austin's Congress Avenue Sunday night. (Photo: Kim Loop)
March 12, 2012 | BACKBEAT
Backbeat: Fluent Inc., Mobb Deep Help Launch Ad Service Mobflow At SXSWi
The Mob (L-R): Fluent President Mathew Conlin, Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep, and Fluent CEO Ryan Schulke pose outside the venue. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
Fluent Inc. is a universal performance marketing network that enables publishers, advertisers, and developers to more effectively reach, target, and engage with consumers through their proprietary web and mobile ad serving technologies. Fluent hosted the Maria Maria Mobb Deep event in order to launch its new product MobFlow, which will serve as Fluent's mobile and in-app ad solution. What makes Fluent and MobFlow unique is that its platform is completely performance based, meaning that it is now possible for advertisers and publishers to pay only for meaningful user interactions and experiences, not just clicks.
Conlin and Schulke repping Fluent at the Mobb Deep performance. (Photo: Toni Wallace)
Launched in August 2010, Fluent is a rare breed in the tech community. It is a 100% bootstrapped start-up that in just one short year has already grown 850% to $40M in revenue. It has an impressive client roster which includes the likes of Pandora, Livemixtapes.com, Anheuser Busch, and Procter and Gamble, and is also in the process of expanding its operations overseas into China. When Billboard.biz asked Fluent's CEO Ryan Schulke and President Matthew Conlin what makes them unique, they said "the flexibility of the Fluent platform, the ability to intelligently target ads, and that the Fluent team always puts its customers first."
March 12, 2012 | GUIDE
A Guide To SXSW Music: Hot Parties, Big Showcases, Can't-Miss Shows
SXSW Music is just about the most overwhelming festival experience the music industry serves up on a yearly basis, with thousands of bands spread across the city performing both unofficial and official SXSW events, house parties, free bar shows, busking in the streets, and everything above, beyond, and in between. To try and make it all a little more manageable, we've attempted to pare down the onslaught into a few can't-miss showcases and parties going on between March 13-18, from its small scale beginnings to its full-throttle height. See you there.
Tuesday March 13
XXL Freshman Mag Party (8pm-2am) - Former XXL Freshman Magazine cover boy Kendrick Lamar joins some of this year's crop, as the show will feature Danny Brown, Future, Hopsin, plus a bunch of special guests.
Brooklyn Vegan / Daniel Johnston (8:00pm - 2:00am) - Oddball Daniel Johnston's "Space Ducks" party features Built to Spill and a special show with Daniel Johnston and Motopony, and a festival flyer that only he could design.
Stones Throw Records (9pm-2am) - Everyone's favorite soul-hop label Stones Throw Records will be kicking off the music fest with a showcase featuring The Stepkids, Homeboy Sandman, Peanut Butter Wolf and Jonti, to name a few.
Wednesday March 14
Consequence of Sound CoSigns (noon-6pm) - Kicking things off early is the CoSigns showcase, featuring Titus Andronicus, Cloud Nothings, Screaming Females and The Men, complete with the launch of the CoS mobile app.
Force Field PR/Terrorbird (noon-6pm) - Force Field is teaming with Terrorbird Media to bring together a show with Widowspeak, Youth Lagoon, and this year's big buzz band We Were Promised Jetpacks.
Pandora Discovery Den (12:30pm-midnight) - This baby will be up and running on the 13th too, but Wednesday brings heavy hitters Theophilus London, Big K.R.I.T., and Gary Clark Jr. to the stage and will be running all day long.
Fader Fort (3/14-3/17 1-8pm) - Day one of four of the Fader Fort will be showcasing the four emcees of Black Hippy (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab Soul and Jay Roc) along with Santigold, Danny Brown, The-Dream, and Zola Jesus.
Live Turntable.fm (4-6pm) - Watch five DJs duke it out for the title of BigShot DJ of SXSW and get your dance on in the process.
Vans (7pm) - Fidlar, Pennywise, Jimmy Cliff and a "surprise guest" make this one of the more intriguing lineups of the day.
The Warner Sound (7:30pm-2am) - The Warner Sound is going to be consistently bringing the heat from Tuesday-Thursday, but Wednesday night's showcase is bound to be a big one with Gary Clark, Jr., Dr. John, Ed Sheeran, and Dale Earnardt Jr. Jr.
Life Or Death/R.A.P. Music/Mishka (7:30pm - 2:00am) - Life or Death PR is gonna be bringing a star-studded showcase to Austin, with rising star Action Bronson joining Wavves, Trash Talk, Prodigy and Killer Mike.
Sony Electronics/Stache Media (7:45-2am) - Eve 6 is headlining this bad boy, alongside Alberta Cross, Hacienda, Say Anything and The Static Jacks if you'd like to get a little more current.
NPR Music (7:45pm - 2:00am) - NPR's official showcase features its usual jaw-dropping assortment of names, with the likes of Fiona Apple, Sharon Van Etten and Andrew Bird sure to excite the masses. Their day party on Thursday with Polica and the Magnetic Fields would be tough to miss, too.
Billboard Showcase (8pm) - Guys, it's Lionel Richie. Come on. If you can't get down with him, we've got Wallpaper, The-Dream, Policam, and Vintage Trouble to help you get your groove on.
101X (8pm-2am) - 101X is going to bring a good time, with recent Billboard Cover stars fun. joined by Kasabian and Neon Trees, with the whole shebang hosted by Andrew W.K.
Brooklyn Vegan (8pm - 1:40am) - BV is gonna be all over SXSW, but their official showcase at Bar 96 will feature Titus Andronicus, Screaming Females, and The Young, with another act yet to be announced.
S.O.B.'s 30th Anniversary (8pm) - Legendary NYC venue S.O.B.'s will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and AllHipHop is helping them run the show with hip-hop powerhouse Slaughterhouse, Machine Gun Kelly, Mystikal, 2 Chainz, and Elle Varner bringing the noise.
Billboard Latin (8pm) - Billboard Latin's showcase will be augmented by performances by Colombian rapper Duran, La Vida Boheme, and Jotdog, among others.
Thursday March 15
Mess With Texas Party (noon-6pm) - With Two Gallants, Girls, and Cults on Thursday and more parties Friday (with Cloud Nothings, Purity Ring, We Were Promised Jetpacks) and Saturday (with Deerhoof, Tan Lines, A$AP Rocky), this party will be a common destination through the weekend.
Pitchfork Day Party (noon-6pm) - Pitchfork's day party with El-P, The War on Drugs, Danny Brown, Youth Lagoon, Cloud Nothings, and Trash Talk will be a perfect primer for...
Google (noon - 8pm) - Google's star-studded rooftop banger will include performances by The Ting Tings, Best Coast, Gossip, and Titus Andronicus on Thursday, but don't skip out on Friday night when Jimmy Cliff, Black Star, and Grimes join The Shins at The Lot.
Pitchfork Showcase (7pm) - Pitchfork's official showcase, featuring the rejuvenated Fiona Apple, the ever-present The-Dream, Grimes, and Nicolas Jaar.
Converse Rubber Tracks/The Filter (7:30pm - 2:00am) Converse will be all over the place as well, but Thursday night they'll be getting down with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alberta Cross, and Yawn.
Dead Oceans/Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian (8pm) - Sharon Van Etten, the War On Drugs, Nite Jewel, and Bear In Heaven are just some of the bands set to hit the two stages at this showcase.
Carpark/Paw Tracks (8pm-2am) - Prince Rama, Young Magic, and another Cloud Nothings performance (not that we're complaining) highlight this party.
Americana Music Association (8pm-2am) - Jonny Corndawg, Punch Brothers, and The Gourds are big names waving the Americana flag at SXSW.
Chop Shop Showcase (8pm-2am) - HelloGoodbye, The Gossip, and We Are Augustines will be playing under the Austin stars at Maggie Mae's rooftop bar.
Danny Rose Showcase (8pm) - If you haven't checked out The Growlers yet, here's your big chance, as they'll be hitting the stage alongside Howlin Rain and Bad Weather California.
BMI (8:30pm - 1:50 am) IDA MARIA, Vonnegutt, and David Garza are all performing at BMI's official showcase.
The Warner Sound (9:30pm - 1:30am) We tried to warn you about The Warner Sound. Thursday night is bringing the hip-hop heat with T.I., B.o.B., Wale and Curren$y.
Friday March 16
Under The Radar Mag (noon-6pm) - Under the Radar is featuring three big parties (Wed-Fri), but this one will be headlined by Of Montreal's performance of The Sunlandic Twins, with openers Youth Lagoon, Deerhoof, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Django Django.
Spin Showcase (noon-6) - Spin's got 2 stages and they'll both be bumping, with Big K.R.I.T. and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire inside and Santigold and Best Coast representing outside.
Waterloo Records Day Party (noon-6pm) - Waterloo Records are also putting up four day of music (Wed-Sat), but their star-studded Friday is featuring Talib Kweli, Jimmy Cliff, Of Montreal, Gary Clark, Jr., and The Cult.
IHeartComix/Life or Death PR (noon-7pm) - IHeartComix's hip-hop showcase will put Das Racist, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, Young L, and Stalley on the same stage.
SXSanJose (noon-8pm) - Alejandro Escovedo and Dry The River are among the artists, but if you miss Alabama Shakes you're making one of the biggest mistakes of the festival. One of four days for this showcase (Thurs-Sun).
Workaholics House Party (1pm-2am) - The cast of Comedy Central's Workaholics host this all-day party, plus Statik Selektah, Freddie Gibbs, Wavves and more.
Dickies/Filter Mag Party (3pm) - The Drums, Built To Spill, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and more all day, with Yacht, Miike Snow, and Off! performing on Thursday and Saturday.
Merge Records (7pm) - Merge Records is curating one hell of a party, with M. Ward, Hospitality, Eleanor Friedberger, and Imperial Teen, and perhaps a few surprise guests.
BMI Showcase (7:45) - BMI's evening showcase features the War on Drugs, Magnetic Fields, Bomba Estereo, and headliner Juanes.
Duck Down v. Blacksmith (8pm) - Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae, Smif n Wessun, and Bad Rabbits bring the hip-hop labels together. Go see Bad Rabbits. Just do it. Thank us later.
The Jacked Stage by Doritos (8pm-1am) - Hip-hop heads will be happy with Chali 2na, GZA, Chiddy Bang, and all the doritos you can stomach.
Shady Records 2.0 (8pm) - 50 Cent (performing Get Rich or Die Tryin' in its entirety), Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse, Big KRIT, Schoolboy Q, and Action Bronson. WOW. Wanna bet Eminem shows up?
Counting Crows (8-9:30pm) - Counting Crows will be headlining the Auditorium Shores Stage at Lady Bird Lake.
Madison House Showcase (8pm-2am) - Grooves aplenty, with Chali 2na, Lyrics Born and Lateef, Mr. Lif, Break Science ft. Talib Kweli, and Rubblebucket bringing the funk.
AM Only Showcase (8pm-2am) - Drop everything but the bass (they'll do it for you) as Skrillex v. 12th Planet, Araabmuzik, Codes, and Zeds Dead bring the party (2 stages).
AllHipHop/VIBE Showcase (8pm-2am) - Mystikal, Big KRIT, Smoke DZA, the Stepkids, Juvenile, and a whole bevy of others. The hip-hop lineups this year are stacked.
Biz 3 Showcase (8:30pm) - Skrillex, Asher Roth, El-P, and the Cool Kids are gonna be there, and that's all you really need to know.
Saturday March 17
Rolling Stone Rockroom (11:30am-5pm) - Tom Morello and the Nightwatchmen, Gary Clark, Jr., and Heartless Bastards will take the stage during the day; this one is the second of their two showcases (Keane headlines Friday night).
IHeartComix/Mad Decent/Fool's Gold (noon) - Eclectic and wide mix of A-Trak, Diplo, A$ap Mob, The Drums, Andrew W.K., Digitalism, Wavves, Trash Talk, Dillon Francis, and way more.
Boston To Austin (noon-6pm) - The city of Boston's showcase features the leading voice of Beantown hip hop Moe Pope & Quills, along with Bad Rabbits and You Can Be A Wesley.
Big Easy Express Screening (6:30pm) - Screening of the documentary Big Easy Express, which followed Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes on their tour around the country, followed by a small performance by both.
Red Bull Thre3Style Celebration (8pm) - Z-Trip, Erykah Badu, The Crystal Method, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Datsik. Wait, DJ Jazzy Jeff?? Yeah, you heard right.
Sub Pop (8pm) - Shearwater, Blitzen Trapper, Spoek Mathambo, and a "special guest" on two stages.
Killers, Lasers, Papers (Atlantic/Elektra) (8pm) - Huge names for a huge showcase, as Cee Lo Green, Lupe Fiasco, and Wiz Khalifa are set to perform, an even that will be live streamed to a global audience via killerslaserspapers.com.
iHipHop/BabyGrande/Madbury Club (8pm) - A potentially legendary performance by GZA (with Grupo Fantasma), M.O.P., Curren$y's Jet Life Crew, and Statik Selektah.
The Cult (8-9:30pm) - The Cult headline Saturday night at Auditorium Shores under the Austin stars.
Cashmere/VIBE House (8pm-2am) - Another VIBE show featuring Kendrick Lamar/Jay Rock/AbSoul, and Nipsy Hussle
March 12, 2012 | FILM
Slash, Clive Davis, Billy Corgan Take a Ride Down 'Sunset Strip' @ SXSW Film
In Hans Fjellestad's "Sunset Strip" documentary, several of his talking heads declare the mile and a half stretch of Sunset Boulevard dead in 2005 after Tower Records closed. Clive Davis and Lou Adler eulogize the store's closing, Ozzy Osbourne rambles on about Tower's signature yellow "burning into your psyche" and Slash steps into a moment of acceptance saying "things change in this town."
Fjellestad says it's not unusual to write an obit for the strip. "Looking back through the L.A. Times and Herald Examiner it seems like every 10 or 12 years some one is saying it's dead," he says.
In his documentary, which has its world premiere Friday, Fjellestad starts with its roots as poinsettia fields and its designation as "the strip" owing more to the fact that it is the road that connects the studios of Hollywood with the homes of Beverly Hills. In the decades prior to the incorporation of West Hollywood, the Sunset Strip was in Los Angeles County but not the city, which led to nefarious characters financing and setting up a unique nightlife destination. It began with the likes of Ciro's and Trocadero, moved on to Pandora's Box and Whisky a Go-Go and today includes the Roxy and Key Club.
"I really wanted to look at themes of the times as opposed to focusing on the Doors, (the death of) John Belushi and Richard Pryor," he tells billboard.
Fjellestad joined the project about 2-1/2 years ago after "a ton of research, a ton of writing and a ton of development" had been done including some great shots of the Sunset Strip riots of 1966. (Authors Harvey Kubernik and Domenic Priore are credited as the project's historians.) Shooting began in June 2010.
With no distribution at this time -- Fjellestad says there are talks with six or seven companies -- the film is expected to land at a few more film festivals. It has a significant amount of music: There are 48 songs listed in the credits ranging from Love's "You Set the Scene" that opens the film to Donovan's "The Trip" over the credits with a lot of jazz, heavy metal and punk rock in between.
Among the musician speakers are Slash, Billy Corgan, the Doors' Robbie Krieger and Perry Farrell plus the members of X and Ratt.
Though he is associated with jazz as a composer and the Moog synthesizer as a filmmaker, if Fjellestad had one period to chose to return to the Sunset Strip it would likely be the 1920s and 30s when the Garden of Allah was in full swing. The Garden was a complex of bungalows where wild parties were as much the norm as the literary figures who frequented the place.
"I'm sometimes really drawn to the Bohemian atmosphere, this 25 to 30 year history of these bungalows. I could see a whole other project being dedicated just to that story."
March 12, 2012 | News
How 14 Companies Are Making SXSW A Music Marketing Mecca
It may seem like every band and brand is heading down to Austin this month for the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (running March 9-18), but the music portion of SXSW has lost some buzz in recent years to the behemoth that is now SXSW Interactive.
"I was in London having a meeting with a major brand over there and they said, 'Does South by Southwest have a music component to it?'" says Panos Panay, CEO of music-booking company Sonicbids, which has been SXSW Music's exclusive booking platform since 2007.
That doesn't look like the case for 2012. Several longtime Interactive sponsors are extending their marketing plans from SXSW Interactive (which runs March 9-13) to include music events (which are scheduled for March 13-18) for the first time. And a mix of consumer, media and business-to-business brands are also expanding their efforts, some more formally than others. In fact, one of the festival's biggest unofficial events-the Fader Fort-is finally going legit, teaming up with SXSW for the first time and recruiting Converse as its new presenting sponsor.
Billboard presents a guide to the plans of 14 brands, both for official and unofficial events, at this year's SXSW.
Brand manager: Vevo GM Fred Santarpia ( @fsantarpia)
Brand plans: Vevo is pairing with Nike for a takeover of Austin's Spaghetti Warehouse space on Fourth Street from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 14-16. Vevo and Nike will present artist performances by a roster that already includes the Shins and Machine Gun Kelly, culminating with a March 17 "Vevo Powerstation" event from the "Austin City Limits" theater.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: Having made a big splash last year at Austin's now-shuttered Power Plant, Vevo proved it can draw some of the festival's biggest names: Kanye West and Jay-Z were among the headliners for the 2011 closing-night party.
Brand manager: Nike global brand manager for sport culture Darla Vaughn ( @darlavaughn)
Brand plans: Nike is sponsoring Vevo's Spaghetti Warehouse and Powerstation events on behalf of its new Fuelband wristband. It's also prepping an original Web series, "Music Is My Sport," for launch on Vevo post-SXSW.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: Fuelband is already hugely popular (the company recently reported it's been used by 5 million runners since its January launch), and Nike is expected to participate in a panel with Vevo during Interactive on March 11, keeping its brand integrated with all aspects of the SXSW experience.
Brand manager: IFC senior VP of marketing Blake Callaway
Brand plans: IFC is moving its popular Crossroads House to the heart of Sixth Street this year, taking over the Vice Bar space near San Jacinto for an expanded take on what has become a SXSW staple since 2010. Acts coming to the house include Delta Spirit, Citizen Cope and the American Secrets, the official band of fellow official Music sponsor FreeCreditScore.com.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: "We like to think our brand is sort of a voice about indie culture-whether that's music or film or comedy, it now gives us permission to be the official media sponsor" for SXSW, Callaway says. "The audience that attends is really representative of who we're reaching on-air. There's a connection between our brands."
Brand manager: Fader president/publisher Andy Cohn ( @andycohn)
Brand plans: Long one of SXSW Music's best-attended destinations, the four-day Fader Fort hasn't been an official part of the festival until this year. It's also going to TV for the first time through a media partnership with Fuse, with other new sponsors onboard including Southwest, Beats by Dre and Converse, which signed up for the Fort's first three-year deal as presenting sponsor.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: By getting more exposure than ever with a little extra help from official SXSW promotion. "Badge-holders will now have access, so it'll be a nice balance between Fader invitees and badge-holders," Cohn says.
Brand manager: Pepsi director of cultural branding Javier Farfan ( @jfarfan)
Brand plans: Pepsi is changing up its brand activations this year by linking with Turntable.fm for a pair of live Turntable-themed events, one at Interactive and one at Music, preceded by a Pepsi-backed Turntable Tuesdays promotion that began the first two Tuesdays prior to SXSW.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: The Pepsi program represents a first-of-its-kind brand partnership for Turntable.fm, where brands like Bravo TV have previously leveraged the platform for free.
Brand manager: Converse chief marketing officer Geoff Cottrill ( @yogmoney)
Brand plans: A sponsor of the Fader Fort in years past, Converse is taking on a larger role as presenting partner of this year's event. Converse is also the first presenting sponsor to sign up for a three-year commitment, following previous yearly deals from partners like Levi's and Fiat. Santigold, Zola Jesus and Black Hippy are among this year's performers.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: "Converse has had a long and rich history of championing artistic creativity and supporting the world of music," Cottrill says. "We could not be more excited to partner with the Fader and SXSW to create a truly unique experience for music fans at one of the biggest music festivals of the year."
Brand manager: Sonicbids CEO Panos Panay ( @sonicbidspanos)
Brand plans: As the exclusive band-submission platform for SXSW since 2007, Sonicbids has long been a part of the festival's back end. But increasingly, the company is taking on a more consumer-centric role, offering fans the chance to vote for one of the bands that will play its official showcase. The company is also leading several panels throughout Interactive and Music regarding social media's role in music marketing.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: By greatly expanding its presence, from doubling its sponsorship investment to sending 20 of its staffers to lead activations and conduct business from Austin throughout the week. "It's almost inexorable-you can't really resist this gravitational force the event has," Panay says.
Doritos.com / Doritos Jacked stage lineup
Brand manager: Doritos director of marketing Jared Drinkwater
Brand plans: Stepping out of the shadow of its PepsiCo sibling brands, Doritos is prepping its first SXSW activation and is set to unveil two new chip flavors - Enchilada Supreme and Smoke Chipotle BBQ. The snack brand will set up shop on Fifth Street and Red River with a combination music-and-tasting event on March 16 and 17, using real estate that has yet to host a brand activation at past SXSW confabs. The Doritos "JACKED" stage will get a soft launch on March 15 via a Maxim-hosted party featuring two surprise headliners, followed by a two-day showcase featuring performances from Bass Drum of Death, Chiddy Bang, MNDR, White Denim and !!! among others.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: With a nearly six-story tall pop-up venue designed to look like a larger-than-life vending machine. Over-sized quarters will also be placed at area Taco Bell locations to promote Doritos' new Locos Tacos and give fans a chance to win. "In true Doritos fashion, we've never been a brand to go in and run the same playbook that other brands run," Drinkwater says. "I can tell you with 100% confidence our activation will be something the likes of South by Southwest has never seen."
Brand manager: Chevrolet director of advertising sales and promotion Kevin Mayer
Brand plans: Perhaps best-known for its Interactive activations (the Chevy Volt Recharge Lounge has been a fan favorite in recent years), Chevrolet is debuting a music-dedicated venue at this year's Music festival. The Chevrolet Sound Garage, located near the intersection of Sixth Street and Red River, will host several music showcases and street-art battles from U.K. graffiti collective Secret Wars throughout Music's duration.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: With little competition in the automotive space (last year's Fader Fort sponsor Fiat isn't returning), Chevrolet has the opportunity to take its category-leading sponsorship to the next level with its expanded Music offerings in 2012.
Brand manager: Filter Creative Group co-owner/co-founder Alan Miller
Brand plans: One of the most active media brands at SXSW, Filter is busy prepping events in at least three venues, including its third annual Dickies House. It's also busy locking in some exclusive bookings with acts like Miike Snow, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Yacht.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: By creating best-in-breed performance opportunities for buzz bands and more established groups alike. "Kaiser Chiefs played our show almost 10 years ago now at Cedar St. Courtyard, and the band said in their entire history this was their favorite show they've ever done," Miller says. "This year is their first time back since then and they said, 'We'll play whenever you want us to play.'"
Brand manager: Monster Energy director of music marketing Brent Hamilton
Brand plans: Monster Energy is providing free breakfast and morning beverages during its Java Monster Mornings, to be held in Brush Square Park across the street from the Convention Center throughout Interactive and Music. Plus the energy drink is sponsoring a few key showcases, such as Waterloo Records' 30th-anniversary showcase, which has already booked Blitzen Trapper, the Cult and fun., and the debut of the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour's XXL Freshman Live tour.
Official SXSW sponsor? Yes.
How it will stand out: Everyone loves freebies at SXSW, and a drink that helps weary attendees endure the long week is always welcome.
Brand manager: YouTube VP of marketing Danielle Tiedt
Brand plans: On March 15 and 16, during the Music conference, Google Music and YouTube Presents will host and live-stream two eight-hour showcases from a downtown parking garage. The shows mark YouTube's first time hosting its own live stream at SXSW, and will be available at youtube.com/presents. The lineup includes the Gossip, the Ting Tings and the Shins.
Official SXSW event? No.
How it will stand out: Having an exclusive live stream will help YouTube attract some of the biggest audiences outside of Austin and also generate crucial awareness for Google Music, which has yet to gain much traction since a soft launch in fourth-quarter 2011.
Brand manager: N/A
Brand plans: Miller Lite, SXSW's longtime official beer sponsor, is putting a social spin on this year's activation, having sponsored giveaways and downloads on Pandora, Spotify and other music platforms in the weeks leading up to the festival. The beer brand will also partner with mobile app RoqBot to help attendees program the music at local bars and restaurants around Austin. Sister brand Miller Genuine Draft is joining the festivities this year, partnering with Spin magazine for its annual showcase at Stubb's.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: Not only will Miller Lite be available at every official party and venue, Miller Genuine Draft will debut a new product, MGD Aluminum Pint, at Stubb's and offer concert-goers the opportunity to be featured in an upcoming issue of Spin through a concert poster-themed photo booth promotion.
Brand manager: Nikon senior communications manager Lisa Baxt
Brand plans: Nikon is putting an interactive twist on its sponsorship of Warner Music Group's Warner Sound showcases during Music, putting its new Nikon D4 and D-800 high-definition SLR cameras in the hands of music fans. Attendees can sample the devices by snapping pics of Warner acts ranging from T.I. and B.o.B to Kimbra and Dr. John. Nikon will sponsor a YouTube live stream on the new Warner Sound channel as well to make the shows even more broadly accessible.
Official SXSW event? Yes.
How it will stand out: Having the chance to get your picture taken by rock photographer Robert Knight (subject of the documentary "Rock Prophecies") doesn't hurt, nor does the comparative lack of major photography marketing activations this year. "Nikon has the type of brand equity that really speaks to people at a venue like SXSW," Baxt says. "Photography, video and music have similar sensibilities that hit an emotional point that people in all age groups and demographics and interests can relate to, whether it's music or an image or a video."
March 11, 2012 | Q&A
SXSWi Q&A: Songza's Eric Davich
Saturday night at one of downtown Austin's many food trucks, Billboard.biz spoke with Songza chief content officer Eric Davich about SXSWi and Concierge, a new Songza feature that makes it easier to find a playlist to fit your mood.
BBB: Are you here for business or pleasure?
Eric Davich: A little bit of both. I'm here to show Songza to as many people -- and talk to -- anyone I can. Also to make some new business contacts and connect to people I've been talking to for a while, and put faces to names.
BBB: What are you most looking forward to here?
ED: Aside from food trucks, which are my favorite, I'm looking forward to a lot of great networking events and seeing some great panels and technologies and hopefully meeting some entrepreneurs I admire.
BBB: Do you think SXSW is too crowded to do business?
ED: It's not a problem. I don't think it's a place where you can sit down and negotiate a contract. But it's a great way to develop relationships with folks from around the world in the music industry and the tech industry. Developing some trust with people you work with is, for what we do, it's huge. It's also great to just let people use our service and get some great feedback about what we're doing and what we're going to be doing in the future.
BBB: You have an iPhone app update coming up with your Concierge feature, which sounds fancy. It is supposed to sound fancy?
ED: We toyed around with a couple ideas, but the word "concierge" brings up an image of somebody at a hotel concierge and that kind of experience where you can go up to the concierge and say, "I'm new here, what's fun?" It's really the kind of experience we want to have on Songza. Other options could have been Maître d' or Waiter or something like that. But Concierge fit the best.
Kingston Springs of Nashville play at the Girl + Guy Party Saturday night at Stubb's curated by Guy Kawasaki and Kirtsy. Quiet Company, Wild Moccasins, the Tontons and others were also on the bill. (Photo: Kim Loop)
Boston-based Samuel Adams released B'Austin Ale, a "crowd sourced" beer that was developed with the help of Facebook users, seen here at Stubbs (photo: Kim Loop)
Austin's DJ Protege was one of the turntablists featured at the day-long Spare Beats showcase at Molotov on Saturday, presented by SpareFoot and Uncle Bob's. (photo: Kim Loop)
March 11, 2012 | Round-Up
SXSW Film: 'Sunset Strip' Screens; a Flaming Lip Scores; Goh Nakamura Performs
The rains washed away the glamor of the red carpet at the SXSW Film conference screening of "Nature Calls," Todd Rohal's film starring Patton Oswalt. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
Heavy rains continued Saturday as the SXSW Film Festival slogged through its second day with packed theater lobbies and an abundance of screenings packed to capacity.
One screening packed to gills was Hans Fjellestad's "Sunset Strip," a chronicle of the history of the fabled mile and half stretch of Sunset Boulevard in Southern California that counts Matt Sorum and Donovan Leitch among its producers. Lance McDaniel and his crew from the DeadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City, Okla., were among the viewers impressed with the documentary and expressed an interest in bringing the film to the Oklahoma festival.
Despite the gray skies, McDaniel was in a bit of a giddy mood, having just received the score for his next film from Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips. McDaniel's' film, "Just Crazy Enough," stars Chris Kattan and will likely premiere at DeadCenter. It is Drozd's third film score having previously penned music for " The Heart is a Drum Machine" (2009) and "I Love Your Work" (2003).
Rebecca Thomas' "Electrick Children," about a 15-year-old Mormon girl whose first exposure to rock music winds up with a mysterious pregnancy, sparked an interest in its music selections. The film end credits song, which received an enthusiastic response during a Q&A, is the Conduit's "Top of the Hill."
Signed to Conor Oberst and Nate Krenkel's Team Love label, the Conduits' album will be released March 20, two days before they go on an extensive tour with Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars. Krenkel consulted on the music for the film, landing "Top of the Hill" on the trailer as well.
The film's other musical highlight is a cover of the Nerves' "Hanging on the Telephone" by Tilly and the Wall's Derek Presnall.
Goh Nakamura entertains the crowd at Lomography, a gallery and store that specializes in the Lomo Kompakt Automatic, a unique Russian camera. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
Goh Nakamura slid a short performance between screenings of the two films he has made with Dave Boyle. Boyle's "Surrogate Valentine" was screened at Lomography, a gallery and store for the Russian camera Lomo Kompakt Automatic and art produced by the camera. Nakamura performed a three-song set and showed the short -- very short actually -- films he had made with a Lomo movie camera. Following the afternoon performance, the second Boyle-Nakamura film, "Daylight Savings," had its world premiere at the festival.
In 1999, Diamond Multimedia's Rio became the first portable mp3 player to be commercially successful. Eight years later, the Kindle brought a similar level of mobility to books. Needless to say, the two game-changing devices met with different results and reactions. Rob Reid, founder of Listen.com (which became Rhapsody) and also a publishing industry vet, talked about the two situations during his "Rhapsody To Year Zero: Online Music Then & Now" panel on Saturday at SXSWi.
In the five years after the release of the Rio, U.S. recording industry sales dropped notably. Consumer publishing sales have not suffered in the same way since the release of the Kindle.
Why? The music industry, says Reid, attacked entrepreneurs who could have provided better product than piracy. The record labels wanted to make portable mp3 players illegal, he told attendees. The suit of mp3.com was a "toxic case" that sent a "clear message."
With the premiere of the iPod in 2002, mp3 players now had enough room for more than 6,000 songs. But the iTunes store wasn't released until the next year because Apple had yet to reach a deal with all of the major labels. Consumers were "clamoring" for mp3s to fill their players, but the files weren't legally available and thus resorted to piracy. Reid says innovation suffered because the music industry trained consumers to become accustomed to free, pirated products.
Broadly speaking, online music services in 2012 don't look that much different from 10 years ago: There are a la carte sales, streaming services and interactive radio sites. This is because the talent and capital isn't in music apps, Reid asserted. Instead, it's in other areas, such as locative apps like Glancee, one of the much-heralded newcomers at this year's SXSW.
By contrast, book publishers have embraced the digital media. Around 90% of the New York Times' bestsellers were available on the Kindle as soon as the device was released, including all six major international publishers.
"The publishers got out there with a product that was way better than piracy," says Reid. Content, retail presentation, delivery and reasonable prices all played a role in creating this good experience.
Physical book sales have still dropped significantly, and in a way that resembles the drop in music sales, but the publishing industry is working to make up for the decrease with digital sales But the growth of self publishing, is not helping the book publishing's bottom line. Nearly half, in fact, of Kindle's best sellers are self published.
Toward the end of the presentation, Reid seemed to backpedal a bit saying the transition from the CD to internet was sudden, violent and not easy, he said. "It's easy for someone like me to critique their actions," he said, referring to music industry executives during the beginning of the move to the web, "but almost no one could have gotten this right."
March 10, 2011 | Panels/Ponchos
SXSWi's Rainy First Day: Tumblr Ponchos; 'Future of Entertainment' Panel
Outside the Austin Convention Center where 2012's SXSW Interactive conference kicked off
and where a cross-section of the tech industry were met by raindrops. (photo: Sandira Calviac)
There is a saying: when people talk about the weather, it's because they have nothing else to talk about. This theory will clearly be put to the test during this year's edition of SXSW. Drops of rains were the first impressions attendees got yesterday (March 9) upon landing in Austin.
Marine Boudeau (below), Director of Product Development & UX at New York Public Radio-which just relaunched its classical music website-got her free poncho from Tumblr which will probably not be the only creative startup to turn the forecast into another opportunity to connect with attendees.
Marine Boudeau, Director of Product Development & UX at New York Public Radio (photo: Sandira Calviac)
Boudeau had a head-start in Austin as she spent the last couple of days at Integrated Media Association (IMA) Conference. She said she was excited by the newly launched Public Media Accelerator-a PBX-Knight Foundation initiative seeking to gather mission-driven entrepreneurs into developing innovative ideas to change media for good.
"Future of Entertainment: Viewer Becomes User" panel (from left): Mike Scogin, vice president of wireless and mobile for MTV Networks; Paul Chang, senior marketing manager for Showtime; Jared Hecht, co-founder of GroupMe; Kimber Myers, director of partnerships for GetGlue; and Tom Thai, vice president of marketing and business development for Bluefin Labs Inc. (Photo: Kim Loop)
At a more commercial SXSWi panel on Friday night, entitled, "Future of Entertainment: Viewer Becomes User," the discussion centered on how to make entertainment more interactive and engaging in an age where nearly half of all American adults own smartphones. The discussion featured reps from MTV and Showtime; two mobile social applications -- GetGlue and GroupMe; and Bluefin Labs, a company tracking engagement with TV programming through social media buzz.
The answer, according to the speakers, is to create and tap into real-time experiences as consumers interact withr content. The two featured applications were shown as examples of this: GetGlue, touted as "the leading social network for entertainment check-ins," is an app that lets you "check in" to music you're listening to or movies or TV you're watching. Currently, GetGlue's corporate partnerships are primarily with television and film companies, leaving room for growth in the music industry.
Founded in 2010, GroupMe is a group messaging application that can be used for starting a discussion with friends about an album or a concert. In 2011, it was acquired by Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft later that year. The idea behind both GetGlue and GroupMe is to be social around an experience while it's happening.
In the past, listening to music was a social activity that even when shared with friends was still a passive act -- audiences "leaned back" to take it all in. Now, with the growth of online social networks, Individuals need to "lean forward" as they listen to music and reach out to share opinions and ideas about the brands--or musicians or labels--and to see what friends are saying.
Mike Scogin, vice president of wireless and mobile for MTV Networks, pointed out the importance of knowing your audience and meeting the fans where they are. When users take an interest in something -- say, for example the annual Video Music Awards -- it's important to use the opportunity to engage with viewers and get them to lean forward.
The HootSuite bus, promoting its Twitter platform, avoided the rainfall in Austin after a rather large bird crashed into its roof. (Photo: Sandira Calviac)
Rainy Day #1 @SXSWi (photo: Sandira Calviac)
SXSW Interactive has forged a reputation as not only a breeding ground for the hottest new tech companies and apps on the market (Hi Foursquare), but also as a place that can introduce the world to companies that can change the way humans interact (how's it going, Twitter?), and the music industry is not immune to its advances. As SXSWi has grown, so has its influence on the music community, and this year's Interactive fest (which runs from March 9-13) has put up a bunch of parties and events that tap into that connection.
We've compiled a list of as many music-related events as we could come across (though more are being added every second) and posted them below.
Friday, March 9
Epic Interactive! (7pm-1am) - Free drinks on Do512 at The Belmont and a three-band showcase curated by personal security app AirCover that includes Delta Spirit and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
TechKaraoke (8pm-2am) - live band AND between-set DJ karaoke at The Stage on 6th, for all those moments when you are networking so intensely with SXSWi cohorts that you just can't help but break out in song with a live backing band.
Saturday, March 10
Spare Beats (2-10pm) - All day long DJ showcase at Molotov bringing in acts from across the country to spin for the partying crew, including Get Right Kids + Thick As Thieve$, Table Manners Crew, and Roxy Cottontail, to name a few.
StumbleUpon Open Mic (5-8pm) - StumbleUpon is flexing its music muscles, bringing in open mic performers from its vast array of users to perform at Karma Lounge for a meeting of the StumbleUpon minds (and those who stumble on in).
Third Eye Blind (6-8pm) - That's right, the 90s alt-rockers will be bringing their semi-charmed talents to Austin City Limits for a free performance. Preferred entry is sold out, but you can still sneak into general admission if you show up early enough.
Girl + Guy Party (6pm-midnight) - A "What's Next" on stage showcase featuring Austin locals Quiet Company, Wild Moccasins, The Tontons and others at the outdoor amphitheatre at Stubb's, curated by Guy Kawasaki and Kirtsy.
Waggener Edstrom Party (8-11pm) - The good folks at Waggener Edstrom Communications are hosting a meetup for Interactive's minds at Malverde with Quiet Company and a special guest DJ providing the music.
turntable.fm Party (8pm-2am) - Presented by Pepsi, powered by Intel, supercharged by appearances by Flying Lotus, Araabmuzik, Upper West and more. They'll be hosting a SXSW Music Party on the 15th also, featuring ?uestlove and Diplo, among others.
Sunday, March 11
ScreenBurn Power Up Party (6-10pm) - ScreenBurn focuses mostly on video games, but for the Power Up Party they've invited Alternative Press to curate the bands, and Motion City Soundtrack and I Fight Dragons are already confirmed.
SoundCloud Meetup (7-10pm) - The SoundCloud community will be gathering at Treehouse Pub, where the site's staff will be making a special announcement about their Heroes program and hooking up with StoryWheel to document the experience.
FLUENT Party Rock (7-11pm) - Four hours of an open bar, free cupcakes by Hey Cupcake!, Mexican food inspired by Carlos Santana, AND a performance by Queens rappers Mobb Deep? Oh yeah.
CNET Party (9pm) - The good people over at CNET are hosting a party at Maggie Mae's, where Delta Spirit will be making another festival appearance.
Monday, March 12
RoboTrip (6pm) - This party will be taking over both Club DeVille and Mohawk with big-name indie bands such as WAVVES, Oberhofer, Japandroids and Kool Keith, to name just a few of the artists that will be gracing the three stages.
Jay-Z @ Amex Sync Show (7pm) - Jay-Z will be the star name at the AmEx showcase, in a performance that will also be live-streamed via YouTube and re-broadcast on-demand for the duration of SXSW.
Brisk Bodega Cantina (8pm) - Brisk has had a lot of success in aligning itself with big hip-hoppers (think Eminem, Shady Records 2.0's Yelawolf and Slaughterhouse), and they'll be bringing their Star Wars-themed Bodega with a performance by Just Blaze.
Say Media Party (8:30pm-2am) - Not a lot of info, but there doesn't have to be when your lineup includes the likes of Cults, Wallpaper (who is also confirmed for Billboard's SXSW Showcase) and Quiet Company.
Digital Audio Meetup (9-11pm) - Free drinks, networking, and endless conversations celebrating the success of digital audio.
Thrillist Rocktails (10pm-2am) - Live band karaoke hosted by "College" party animal Asher Roth, plus rooftop sets by The Hood Internet and more.
Tuesday, March 13
Robert Rodriguez and AMD Party (9pm-midnight) - Director Robert Rodriguez will be hosting a night of old-fashioned Latin rock and roll with Chingon & Tito and Tarantula, both bands that have been featured in his famous films.
Media Temple's SXSWi Closing Party (8:30pm) - Wind down your interactive experience by getting down to the sounds of Miike Snow, Kasabian and a "special guest," plus a nice open bar at Stubb's.
March 8, 2011 | PREVIEW
SXSW Interactive What to Watch For: Apps, Panels, More
While South by Southwest's Interactive (SXSWi) and Music festivals are essentially two separate events, they do have one major thing in common: music. Many music companies will be at both conferences, having meetings, speaking on panels and networking at evening after-parties. Expect the typically heavy flow of press releases as companies announce new products and partnerships. And look for tech enthusiasts to vet a slew of next-big-thing mobile apps looking to use SXSW as a launching pad.
But the two portions of the annual SXSW conference are hardly similar. They run at separate times - Interactive precedes Music - and are culturally divergent. When Interactive fades into Music, the clothes get more tattered, the hair gets longer and people attend beer-soaked day parties scattered around downtown rather than thought-provoking panel discussions in the convention center. The Music event is filled with artists, managers, agents, labels, brands and marketers who make up a living in the music business. Interactive is filled with technologists certain they know what's best for the music business.
The music-themed panels and discussions at this year's SXSWi will be centered on a few themes: music discovery; music data; music and social networks; do-it-yourself marketing and streaming as the business model of the future. Most music panels are on Tuesday, March 13. Unfortunately, some of them run concurrently.
Among the highlights could be a solo presentation from Spotify chief content officer Ken Parks at 11am on Tuesday, March 13. Parks should have plenty to say about recent criticism of notable Spotify holdouts - Coldplay, Adele, the Black Keys - and streaming models' payouts to artists and labels. Any bloggers looking for a "gotcha" quote probably won't get one here, however. Spotify executives are extremely good at staying on-message.
More than a few people think social will be the next driving force in music. " Can Social Music Save the Music Industry?" at 12:30pm on Tuesday, March 13 has an overblown title - if the business can be saved, it will surely require more than social innovations - but should be a good discussion. RootMusic CEO J Sider, Official.fm chief product officer Jason Herskowitz, Songkick co-founder and CPO Michelle You and Polyvinyl Record Co. label manager Seth Hubbard will tell us how social will change how people discover and experience music. At the same time, " Turntable.fm is the Future of Music is Social" with the company's co-founders will provide more insight into social music and hopefully explain why Turntable.fm was not able to maintain its summer 2011 hot streak.
Marketing advice will abound at SXSWi but only one panel will focus on music. Crowd Factory CEO Sanjay Dholakia will lead a panel about new social marketing techniques titled "Forget Radio, Let Your Fans Market Your Music," at 3:30pm on Tuesday, March 13.
SXSWi specializes in the kind of geeky topics that don't fit well with the music conference audience. One example "Data Mining Music" by the Echo Nest's director of developer platform, Paul Lamere, at 5pm on Sunday, March 11. Expect a dizzying and fascinating display of the ways programmers can work with large data sets of music intelligence and the products that can be created.
Rovi's Michael Papish will present "The Dark Arts of Digital Music Recommendations" about data- and algorithm-driven music suggestions at 1pm on Tuesday, March 12. " Music Discovery: Man vs. Machine," at 9:30am on Tuesday, March 13, will pit the human world (represented by KCRW and Sperry Media) against the machine world (Wahwah.fm and We Are Hunted).
This year's SXSWi may or may not be the launching ground for a game-changing, breakthrough app. The conference is to mobile apps what the NFL combine is to the NFL draft: a brief, intense showcase where critical analysts poke and prod aspiring millionaires. Every few years SXSWi graduates a superstar - Twitter debuted at SXSW in 2007 and Foursquare made waves in 2009. But even if SXSWi was their coming out party, most of these apps don't make it into the mainstream's consciousness.
Which apps have the best chances of rising above the noise? An app needs to have widespread appeal to become a SXSWi buzz app, so breakthrough apps are likely to involve communication or networking. Some leading candidates are Highlight and Glancee, apps that combine social networking and geo-location. Imagine opening the Highlight app, seeing other app users in the room, reading the bio of a person standing on the other side of the room and sending that person a message. Early adopters should find these apps fun and helpful, but the rest of America might have a different opinion. After all, one man's networking is another man's cyberstalking.
Considering how important music is to the conference, it's ironic that music apps don't make a bigger splash at SXSWi. There will be a couple app events, however. " Music 2.0: Engaging Fans with Mobile Social Apps," at 12:30pm on Tuesday, March 13, will feature executives from Mobile Roadie, MTV Networks, Creative Artists Agency and GetGlue. For an overview of today's better music apps, check out "Music Apps Gone Wild" by Evolver.fm editor Eliot Van Buskirk at 1:30pm on Sunday, March 11.
Each year, those of us lucky enough to attend the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas face the same questions: Where am I, and what am I doing?
It's pretty intimidating from a scheduling perspective -- there's so much going on, you're guaranteed to miss almost all of it, no matter what you do. (Plug: I'm speaking twice, but other than that, I'm considering a strict vow of silence.)
In the interest of smart festival attendance -- or even if you're not going, but just want to find out about some cutting edge new music or try the tools people at SXSW will be using this year -- here's a quiver of arrows to help you split the apple on SXSW's head, to mangle a metaphor. We haven't included them all (for that, go here) -- just the ones we've tried and verified are useful.
Our work here is not done. We aim to revise this list during this week's lead-up to the festival, which starts on Friday, March 9. If we missed any really good SXSW tools that should be listed here, please let us know.
Discover your next favorite band
Whether you're going for Film, Interactive, Music, or all three segments of the festival, there will be bands playing everywhere you look. Sometimes, you can even hear four of them at the same time as you stumble down the street. These tools should help you wade through the noise.
SXSW Torrent (BitTorrent): If you don't already, you need to know about this unofficial resource, which showcases the useful, rarely seen, mostly-not-infringing side of the BitTorrent file sharing protocol. How else could you distribute a 4.71GB file ( .torrent) containing at least one song from every band showcasing at the festival this year? BitTorrent is an efficient way to spread a file like that -- and you can bet that none of the bands included mind. After all, these showcases are there to help bands get discovered, and all of the MP3s included in the file were approved for free posting on SXSW.com/music, so it's legit. However, even with BitTorrent's efficiency, the file takes forever to download, and even longer to listen to, so you might still need some of the other tools listed here.
Suggest.by (web - thanks, Peter Watts): In the absence of Lastsx.sw (see below), we're happy that Suggest.by emerged to help people wade through the ridiculous amount of music at SXSW to find stuff they will personally enjoy ( more here).
Operation Every Band (web): These lunatics pledged to "listen to and review every band performing at SXSW 2012." We haven't scrolled through the whole thing, but it looks like they made some great progress, and they're still at it. Granted, some of the reviews are just a single sentence, but there's lots of YouTube mixed in there too. While not the magic taste-based band finder we seek (see below), it's sure faster than listening to everything in the torrent. (We've emailed to ask them how far they've gotten, and hope to post an update soon.)
Austin 360's Guide to "Side Parties" : This one's super useful for those nights when you somehow find yourself with some time to spare, but it also works if you're trying to track down a particular band at an unofficial event or just drink a free beer. You can search by Interactive/Film/Music, date, and whether the event is free or not -- and whether it has free food and drink -- and that's just the "simple search." The " advanced search" lets you check out the SXSW 2012 side parties by venue, event name, staff picks, RSVP required, invite/badge required, and even what bands are playing. Yes, loads of bands play sponsored side parties at SXSW. How else could they afford to fly to Texas and play for free?
Lastsx.sw (web): This is a bummer. Lastsx.sw, which appears to have been shut down by the official SXSW people, used to be able to recommend bands for you to see at SXSW based on your Last.fm and/or Spotify preferences. According to the website, festival organizers shut it down because "We strongly believe that anyone who sees your solicitations or promotions will assume that we are endorsing your company." The creators of Lastsx.sw responded with a call for SXSW to release a public API to make it easier for developers to make apps like this, rather than harder: "As if this was a company endeavor, or had any promotions or solicitations. Total lameness. Here's a thought for you: launch a public API." Hear hear!
(Note: We need a streaming radio app for SXSW 2012. Shoutcast, Slacker and other places we've seen SXSW radio stations in the past are coming up empty this year. Do we really have to plow through that whole torrent file manually? Like, with our own ears, and everything? Hopefully not. If you've seen a streaming radio station for SXSW 2012, please, let us know and we'll add it to this list.)
Meeting people is easy
If you are going to Austin this year, one of the best things about it is meeting people. One of the worst things about it is meeting the wrong people. Both kinds seem to be everywhere at SXSW; these apps should help you find more of the former while avoiding the latter.
Highlight (iOS): Every SXSW seems to bring a breakout app (see: Foursquare). Maybe it's because the festival creates such a concentration of tech and music nerds in a town unfamiliar to most of them, but for whatever reason, there always tends to be an "it" app, and this year, Highlight looks like the one everyone will be talking about. Install the app on your iPhone, and you'll be able to see lots of information about anyone else with the app installed who is standing near you, using GPS and the fact that most of us have a shocking amount of information available about ourselves on Facebook, which this app can see. Logging in with Facebook is necessary, and allows the app to see your basic information, profile, photos, your friends' shares, send you email, and access your data at any time, even if you're logged out. Privacy squeamishness aside, this actually looks like it could be useful in Austin this year -- assuming you're actually looking for even more people to talk to.
Glancee (Android, iOS, Facebook): Glancee does pretty much the same stuff Highlight does, but it also runs on Android phones in addition to iOS. Will that help it or hurt it in the race to be the "it" app of SXSW? That could go either way, given the preponderance of Apple fanboys and other iPhone users flooding the streets of Austin later this week. So far, Glancee does a better job of introducing people who don't already know each other, although granted, we haven't walked around with Highlight yet.
Ban.jo (Android and iOS): Is there really another one of these? There is. Ban.jo does the same thing Glancee and Highlight do, and like Glancee, it runs on both Android and iOS. What is a person to do except for installing all three and seeing which one actually works best in Austin? That's what we're doing.
I'm Right Here (iOS): Plenty of apps let you share your location, but this one purports to be the only one that can send a URL with your location via SMS. It's not true. You can share your location using the Map app on your iPhone by dropping a Pin first, then sharing that location. However, we like the name of this app, and there's something to be said for how simple this app makes sharing your location to anyone in your iPhone's address book -- especially later in the evening, when things can look blurrier than Highlight's logo.
It's really important to stay organized at SXSW, where it's very important that you stay organized. You should also try to stay organized.
Sched.org (web, Android, iOS, Blackberry): If you only try one app from this entire list, it should probably be this one. Sched.org's guide remains the gold standard in SXSW organizers for the web, Android, iOS, and Blackberry. It shows you an encyclopedic list of what's going on there; you can tag the stuff you want to attend to put it into a personalized calendar that can be exported to whatever you normally use for scheduling; or you can use the app itself as your calendar. This year, Sched added EventBrite compatibility, so when you RSVP for a party or other event using that, it goes right on your Sched.org calendar. So far, it lists 6,729 unofficial and official events. You can sort them by "badge events," free drinks, free food, and so on -- or just make your way through the whole thing chronologically, tagging stuff to add it to your personal calendar.
SXSW Go (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7): The official SXSW 2012 app, powered by Womzit, also warrants a mention, in part because it's available on more platforms than anything else on this list. As with Sched.org's apps, this one lets you browse through events and tag them to your own schedule, but it also includes maps, floor plans, the official list of speakers and exhibitors, the ability to track the festival on Twitter and Facebook, and a photo sharing area where attendees can share what they're seeing. And as with the unofficial Sched.org version, you can use the web and app versions interchangeably, offering a nice way to do the heavy organizational lifting on your computer and access the results on your smartphone.
LocalMind (iOS): This app, which tech pundit Robert Scoble said was the best SXSW app last year, lets you ask the people who have checked in at a place what is going on there, even if you don't know them. In most cities, most of the time, an app like this would be of dubious utility. However, at SXSW, possibly the most app-happy place in the world, it should actually work pretty well. Are you wondering whether so-and-so has gone on yet, or whether it's too crowded to get in to X, Y, or Z? This app lets you ask someone who is actually there.
Start your own festival
People sometimes complain about SXSW because it used to be a small music festival for industry insiders where bands would go to get discovered by record labels' A&R staffers, and now, it's a massive event primarily designed for music fans, which some say rips off bands who don't even get discovered there anymore. Instead of complaining, why don't you start your own festival? Google has a healthy number of resources for learning how to start your own music festival, but the best one we've seen so far is JP Music's Guide to Starting a Music Festival in a Bad Economy ( .pdf).
March 7, 2012 | NEWS
Lionel Richie to Headline Billboard's SXSW Showcase
Hello, Austin. We have what you're looking for. Lionel Richie, whose timeless hits include "Easy and "Endless Love," will headline Billboard's annual showcase at South by Southwest's Music Festival on March 14 at Austin's ACL Live. Marking Richie's SXSW debut, the showcase will focus on the icon's catalog spanning 44 years in the hit-making business and promises a fair share of surprise guests.
Joining Richie will be an eclectic mix of the buzzworthiest acts visiting Austin this year, including indie darlings Poliça, stylish party band Wallpaper., retro-soul rockers Vintage Trouble and R&B hit maker The-Dream, who has achieved international success as a solo artist and also composed a string of chart-topping singles for artists such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey.
"Three Times a Lady"
"All Night Long (All Night)"
The opportunity to explore new music with other passionate fans was just one of the reasons Richie chose to make his first trip to SXSW.
"It's so great to be a part of a festival that for two decades has helped launch the careers of some important new artists and celebrates iconic artists who have had a lasting impact on the musical landscape," he said. "I'm looking forward to checking out some of the new bands that I've been reading about for the last several months and making some new friends who share my passion for music."
Richie, whose 10th album "Tuskegee" is scheduled for release on March 26, has created an unforgettable body of work both as a solo artist and as frontman of pioneering '70s soul/funk band the Commodores. "All Night Long (All Night)," "Say You, Say Me," "Hello," and "We Are the World" are just a few of the 22 top 10 hits he's had on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"Tuskegee" is a collection of many of those hits, but on the album Richie is joined by some of the biggest names in country music including Kenny Rogers, Jason Aldean and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles. He plans on bringing that spirit of collaboration to SXSW as well.
"I will be joined by a surprise guest who will help me unveil music from 'Tuskegee," Richie said of Billboard's showcase in Austin. "I can't think of a better way to launch this album than by sharing the new music at South By Southwest."
Bill Werde, Billboard's editorial director, calls Richie's canon of hits "amongst the most beloved and time-tested" of any artist today.
"That his current project is built on those hits gives you a sense of what to expect at the show," he said. "Add to that some of the amazing artists that we have up our sleeve to join Lionel on stage, and you're looking at a night that will be one memorable moment after another. This show is going to blow people way."
Billboard's 2012 SXSW showcase show will begin at 8 p.m. CT on March 14 and is open to festival badge holders. A limited number of non-badge holders will be able to buy tickets at the door as well.
Foursquare today announced the creation of "specials" for concerts, a new feature that will allow artists to create promotional pushes, give away prizes, and offer exclusive rewards for fans who check into their concerts using the service.
For artists, this can range from seat upgrades, merchandise giveaways, meet and greets, special encores, and anything in between, helping to further enhance artist-fan interaction connections through social media. And the location-tagging company is planning to launch the new function at the very place it debuted in 2009 -- SXSW -- where they have linked up with a number of high-profile artists to take advantage of the festival where check ins and social media are equally ubiquitous.
Foursquare has more than a dozen partners participating in the launch, with specials that include Gary Clark, Jr. and current Billboard cover stars fun. offering special encores if enough fans check in to their shows, signed posters of the Counting Crows for anyone who checks in to their BMI Auditorium Shores show March 16, signed EPs for those checking in to see Gold Fields and Morning Parade, free downloads from both Walk The Moon and Dry The River at each of their performances, free poster giveaways from Oberhofer and Daughter, meet and greets for those checking in to shows by Asher Roth, Chris Cab and Neon Trees, and drink specials and Skull Candy headphones for those checking in to either of The Warner Sound's two showcases March 14 and 15, to name a few.
The company has also created a simple tool for any artist who wants to run their own specials while playing shows or out on tour, making it easy to give fans even more incentive to get out and see live music.
Foursquare first ventured into the music realm in August with their partnership with Songkick, which allowed users to check in to actual concerts and events rather than just the venues that housed them, adding a new dimension to the app's social sharing capabilities.
March 6, 2012 | Guide
Music Apps To Look Forward To @ SXSW Accelerator
With MIDEM out of the way, we're looking forward to the next big conference on Evolver.fm's docket: SXSW, where we'll represent at Music Apps Gone Wild and Social Music Strategies: Viral & the Power of Free alongside executives from MOG, Turntable.fm, Sirius XM, Facebook, among other things. Each year, the SXSW Accelerator program rounds up some of the hottest new apps. Some of them are music apps. We like music apps. Here's our curated list of music and music-related apps from this year's crop of finalists and alternates, which bridges the music and technology categories of SXSW Accelerator (descriptions courtesy of SXSW):
WildChords Tampere, Finland ovelin.com WildChords by Ovelin is an iPad game that makes learning to play the guitar fun, addictive and motivating. It is played with any real guitar, and requires no additional equipment. Ovelin is the #1 music app in 34 countries, iPad game of the year (Tilt TV), Best European Learning Game 2011 (LUDUS).
AudioVroom Palo Alto, CA audiovroom.com AudioVroom is your music discovery genie. Let AudioVroom create a profile based on your activity on social networks and devices. Invite friends, genres and artists to a virtual or real room you DJ, where music is based on the intersection of all profiles. Monitor your dashboard on any device.
ConcertCrowd San Francisco, CA concertcrowd.com ConcertCrowd is a Facebook app that uses your location, music likes and friends list to help you discover live music in your area. Combined with integrated streaming music, live music fans finally have all the tools they need to find their next favorite show.
Onesheet San Francisco, CA onesheet.com Onesheet enables entertainment professionals to create a beautiful, simple, maintenance free website in under two minutes. It's used by tens of thousands of musicians, actors, comedians, DJs, and a myriad of other types of creative individuals.
Rexly San Francisco, CA Rexly.com Rexly is an iPhone app, which helps people share the music they love with, and discover new music through, their friends. Users of Rexly can play their on-device iTunes music, share songs to Facebook and Twitter and see what their friends are listening to in iTunes and Pandora.
VenLabs Venice CA venlabsla.com VenLabs combines professional expertise in music, gaming and technology to create new methods of expression through interactive audio. With our work, we aim to advance the expectations and enjoyment of music fans everywhere. Our flagship product, DimSong, creates custom remixes of existing music based on your touch, movement and surroundings.
45 Sound Dublin, Ireland 45sound.com 45 Sound helps bands & artists tell their live music stories by making fan-shot concert videos sound great. Our technology replaces the (usually poor) audio of fan video uploads with high quality live audio provided by the band. Connect with your fans and build your concert video archive!
Swarm.fm Sydney, Australia swarm.fm Swarm.fm gives you super-human listening ability. It compliments your normal discovery and listening routine with smart technology and deep personalization, to help surface music you'll love, all the time. Because good music is non-negotiable.
Tastemate San Francisco CA tastemate.com Tastemate is a new mobile platform for engaging fans and selling merchandise at concerts. Tastemate connects fans with special deals on merchandise, tickets and contests available only during the show. Our mobile merch table helps fans engage directly from their seats and provides valuable data to the bands.
CrowdStream New York, NY getCrowdStream.com CrowdStream is a mobile event network that connects artists directly with fans at events. Artists using CrowdStream include Duran Duran, Motley Crue, Smashing Pumpkins, J. Cole, Neon Trees, Bush, Chevelle, Buckcherry, and Wale.
Fried Green Apps Atlanta, GA friedgreenapps.com Fried Green Apps, Inc. has created Mix Me In a new social media streaming and distribution model for music. Mix Me In2 Taylor Swift was nominated by Billboard as Best Music Engagement App. The technology is now available as a Facebook Social Music Player.
Sensecast Bloomfield, NJ sensecast.com Sensecast empowers anyone to create touch-free interfaces for digital content using Kinect-like sensors. Our software not only drives interactive media in shared spaces but makes those spaces measurable with algorithms and reporting tools to gather privacy-conscious analytics anywhere.
SceneTap Austin, TX scenetap.com SceneTap utilizes anonymous facial detection technology and video-based software to effectively track customer analytics in a venue or particular space, including crowd density, male to female ratio, and average age. It offers an administrative tool for operators and a social network for consumers.
Condition One Brooklyn, NY conditionone.com
Condition ONE is a technology company developing next generation immersive video applications. Our flagship product is an embeddable immersive video player for the iPad, which we license to media companies and brands. Condition ONE creates powerful emotional experiences of being there.
just.me Palo Alto, CA just.me just.me is building the world's first post-pc, post-web, mobile social networking software. Users can capture images, video, audio or text in any combination. The captured media can be saved, sent to others or published. A user only needs a smart phone and a contact list to enjoy all of the features.
Switchcam San Francisco, CA switchcam.com Switchcam is a new video site for watching any event, from every angle. Using eye-witness videos on YouTube and other sites, Switchcam automatically reconstructs your favorite real life events like concerts and sports games so that you can share the event experience - even if you weren't there.
MoPix Los Angeles, CA getmopix.com MoPix is creating the post DVD experience by empowering anyone who owns video content (from studios with a library of films to everyday content creators) with a framework to quickly and easily distribute, brand and sell their content in a socially-enriched digital marketplace.
Grandstand Washington, DC getgrandstand.com Grandstand is a platform that transforms social and mobile actions (check-ins, likes, tweets, and SMS) into real-time social games and eye-popping data visualizations, allowing brands, agencies, retailers, stadiums, or any venue with a display to reward their crowd and enhance their overall visitor experience.
Musical Health Technologies iSingFit.com Musical Health Technologies creates products that enable better care giving through music. SingFit debuted in the Apple App stores in December 2011 and features our patented Lyric Coach system so a participant does not need to be able to read or see to sing the words of a song perfectly.