Business Matters: SXSW 2011 Had $167 Million Impact on Austin
Business Matters: SXSW 2011 Had $167 Million Impact on Austin

SXSW'S Multi-Million Dollar Trickle Down on Austin
-- A new study puts the financial impact of 2011 South By Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals (SXSW) at $167 million -- $44.6 million of operational output (festival-specific expenditures by SXSW and sponsors) and $123 million in attendance expenditures (the financial impact from attendees).

The study does not break down economic impact by segment (Music, Film or Interactive) but it makes clear that music is the dominant attraction at the annual event. Although much has been made that the Interactive portion of the conference now draws more badge holders (19,364 for Interactive to 16,353 for music), the report shows that music brings in most attendees. That's not a surprise -- anybody who has attended both Interactive and Music portions of SXSW will notice the streets go from mildly active during Interactive to frenzied during Music. That's not to understate the value of 19,364 badge holders for Interactive week, but music is obviously what brings people in droves to Austin in mid-March.

Here are the numbers: There were far more free (59,900) and paid (56,100) single admission attendees of music events than badge holders and presenters for SXSW Interactive. And there were half as many musicians, filmmakers and crew (19,200) as badge holders and presenters. Writstband holders who attend official SXSW showcases numbered 7,000 this year. Flatstock and the Texas Guitar Show combined for another 37,000 attendees, according to the study, although both were free to the public and therefore subject to double-counting with other conference attendees.

A side note to this story is the work Austin city officials have done over the years to attract the creative class and build a world-class reputation as a live music city. As academic and author Joel Kotkin noted Monday in a article, Austin ranks third in attracting college-educated residents and the state of Texas has excelled at attracting science and technology jobs while keeping real estate prices relatively low. The city also fosters a pro-music business environment through a loan guarantee program to creative companies, a live music task force in 2008 and a seven-member music commission. It's probably not a coincidence that all this has happened as SXSW has grown in stature and expanded into technology over the years.
( Greyhill Advisors)

iTunes Give it Away, Give it Away, Give the Red Hot Chili Peppers Away For Free

-- iTunes is streaming the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, <i>I'm With You</i>, in its entirety from the band's iTunes page.

To be sure, this one album stream does not put iTunes in competition with streaming services like Rhapsody, Spotify and Napster. It's actually very close to the album previews that sites like AOL's Spinner and NPR's music page have been offering for years. But in this case the album preview is clearly meant to drive pre-order sales - the "stream album now" button sits right above the preorder button for the album.

The big difference here is the iTunes album stream offers as little interactivity as one could imagine. The stop/play button triggers a single stream of the entire album. Listeners cannot select individual tracks or skip further ahead in the album. Hit the stop button and you'll be taken all the way back to the beginning.

It's a bit ironic this RHCP album streams comes just weeks after "Watch The Throne" by Jay-Z and Kanye West made headlines for not leaking ahead of street date. Now, a stream at iTunes isn't exactly a full-fledged leak to a P2P network, but it takes only one person to record the iTunes stream, cut the file into tracks and start sharing. Obviously artists and labels can weigh the promotional benefits of a free album stream against potential damages from a leak. Some people will try to stop the leak at all costs. Others will take the promotional benefits and deal with whatever damages arise as a result.

Whatever the importance of fighting or acquiescing to leaks, the RHCP songs are already out there. Five of the new songs were uploaded to YouTube back in July - they're still there and have received between 10,400 and 151,000 streams. And if you want the entire album, you can find it at and The Pirate Bay. Not coincidentally, both were uploaded the same day the iTunes free stream went live.

Japanese Labels Sue YouTube Downloading Site
-- In Japan 31 record companies have filed a lawsuit against a web site that gives users free downloads of videos posted at YouTube. Plaintiffs in the complaint against MusicGate's Tubefire web site include Nippon Columbia Co., Universal Music LLC. They contend Tubefire does not have permission from either YouTube or copyright holders to distribute digital copies of their works. But according to the report the plaintiffs are pursuing the value of lost revenue, a far lower punishment than the statutory damages sought by U.S. record labels in their lawsuits against digital service providers.
(The Daily Yomiuri)