Since 2010 or so, while I am at SXSW in Austin, I have started to make the panels during the day a priority for my time at the conference. The trick is waking up by 10 a.m. most days.
They are usually filled with industry celebs I can geek out on (like singer-songwriter Paul Williams) and almost always help me with upcoming projects, like the panel I attended about the vinyl record explosion, which led to me writing a whole feature for the Houston Press.
It's always fun to see what is interesting people in the music business enough to submit a panel. One year things like Turntable.fm and Spotify were all the rage; before that it was Twitter and Facebook, and in 2011, I think, there were three panels on Juggalos.
Seeing cardigan-clad rock writers stroke their beards and talk about the significance of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope was a high point in my music-writing career.
Here are some of the panels I'm interested in attending this next week, in no particular listicle order.
615: Why Your Label, Publisher and Agent Have This Area Code Any dum-dum worth his Google space phone knows that 615 is a Nashville area code and that the brains of the music industry are in Music City, not Austin, New York City or Los Angeles, or even Seattle. Slowly but surely, Nashville is becoming not just a country mecca, but a place for acts looking to be closer to the biz side to relocate to. Robert Ellis now makes his home in Nashville, natch.
Casual Music Fans: Behind the Trend and Proud You mean to tell me there are people who aren't obsessed with music 30 hours a day and don't live for Pollstar and e-mails from labels and PR people? Weird.
The Explosion of EDM in America Secrets of EDM Revealed What Can Rock Learn from EDM? Are these three EDM panels already behind the times? Maybe. Are there secrets to EDM that need to be uncovered? Snooze. What can rock learn from EDM? Probably a lot, but as long as millennials are lapping up the stuff, it is going to be a dominant part of the music scene, though it will have a short shelf life. Will Skrillex be on classic-EDM radio in 20 years?
Who's Ripping Me Off Now? Cracker's David Lowery set off an Internet ruckus in 2012 after firing off an angry missive at an NPR intern who admitted to not having paid for the 11,000 tracks in her collection. For this panel, Lowery is joined by East Bay Ray from the Dead Kennedys and Daryl Friedman from The GRAMMY organization as they discuss the trickiness of music on the Web. I don't think Lowery will be performing "Low."
Guiltless Pleasures: Imagining a Post-Snob World Each year I say I'm going to submit plans for a panel like this and I forget to, like, do all the work, and end up asking too many questions and walking out because someone talks shit about Nickelback, which is soooooo 2007.
Where Music Is Headed: The Future of Headphones In a world where Tim McGraw, Buc-ee's and Tony Bennett are hawking their own custom headphones, I guess we should be having a frank discussion about WHY THE FUCK DOES TONY BENNETT NEED TO SELL HEADPHONES.
The Power of Lyrics in the Digital Age What, are lyrics like the stuff that the people say before and after the bass drop happens? Or the things that teenagers tweet that I have to Google to understand what the hell is happening?
Virtual 2Pac: Setting the Stage for a New Form of Entertainment I wrote about the same thing a year back when Hologram 2Pac reared his virtual head. Virtual Beatles, Elvis, Jimi? Sure. Virtual 311? Nah, bruh.
How to Start and Build Your Career on YouTube Scary thought, but most major pop artists today do break on YouTube. Gone are the days of needing a label Svengali or a shady, diddling boy-band manager. Too bad Vine came out a little late for SXSW '13, or else there would be a panel on artists using Vine as well.
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"Jingle" Is Not a Four-Letter Word I would be inclined to agree had I not heard that "someone let the gate open" song every five minutes on cable TV. No doubt this panel will teach would-be rockers that it's okay to sell your songs to commercials. Get that paper and so forth.