SXSWi's Rainy First Day: Tumblr Ponchos; 'Future of Entertainment' Panel
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)