YouTube's sleek SXSW space is playing host to The War On Drugs, The Weeknd and a cadre of other musicians on Wednesday and Thursday. It also gives YouTube an opportunity to promote its new artist initiative, YouTube For Artists.
A bank of video screens near the entrance looks like an art installation but is really a demonstration of the upcoming data tool built into YouTube For Artists, the website launched last week that's meant to help musicians, labels, managers and promoters better use the platform.
The data tool allows anybody to see the city-level streaming data of any YouTube artist. The large touch-screen video on display at SXSW has an interactive, global map overlaid with facts and figures. It provides information artists -- Ed Sheeran is one of them -- and allows people to select countries and see city-level streaming counts.
A festival with over 2,200 bands playing accredited showcases, and unknown more bands playing unofficial gigs, is a sensible place to roll out YouTube For Artists. These are the types of artists YouTube wants on its platform. The company has gone to great lengths to woo creators: creating recording studios around the world, holding workshops, sharing best practices and hosting the YouTube Music Awards to celebrate its creators. Some artists may grouse at the royalties YouTube pays, but they are being given every incentive to use the platform.
The SXSW exhibit will be different than the final version available on the YouTube For Artists. A YouTube spokesperson tells Billboard the data tool will have view charts and views by city. Both official music video views and views from fan uploads will be included in the data tool.