Saturday, March 21 marked the fifth day of the 29th annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas.
I had mixed feelings about the final full day of the festival. Having been in Austin already for six long days, I actually ready to go home since I was on the verge of getting burnt out from consecutive early morning sessions and late night performances. I desperately needed more sleep, but I drank several cups of coffee to help keep me awake for at least twelve more hours.
How and Why to Let Others Remix/Mashup Your Work
Jodie Griffin, Senior Staff Attorney with Public Knowledge, moderated this insightful panel about the mostly positive benefits with letting other people remix and mashup your work (i.e., free). Chris Zabriskie, a producer and composer, argued that people will remix your work regardless of legality so why not just let them do it and hopefully profit from it. “Harlem Shake” was an oft-cited example of a popular mashup that didn’t even have proper clearance for many of the samplings.
Given the popularity of YouTube with its enormous library of remixed and cover songs, and other mashups, I thought Zabriskie brought up a good practical argument. Timothy Vollmer, Manager of Public Policy at Creative Commons, concurred and stated that “copyright [generally] doesn’t mesh well with how people want to work with [things like music].”
The panel consensus was that attribution was the most important when dealing with reworked materials, although Dr. Larisa Mann, DJ and Assistant Professor at NYU, confided that complete metadata was typically lacking in MP3s so attribution could be difficult when remixing music that has been passed around multiple times within the music community. The panelists would have been remiss if they didn’t mention some of the downsides; Zabriskie, who often makes his music freely available with Creative Commons licensing, told a story about someone who had put an album of his songs (and doubled their song lengths) on Spotify, which he felt crossed the line and had the album removed.
How Tech Companies Are Improving Event Discovery
Based on the enormous popularity of SXSW, it would be difficult for someone to not know about the festival but there’s always the possibility that someone may not listen to the radio, watch television, or surf the internet. Which makes event discovery all the more important, especially for smaller events and festivals, for brands and platforms. Kristina Wallender, VP of Marketing at Ticketfly, moderated the panel which included Justin Boyan, Product Manager for Events Google Search; Aditya Koolwal, Product Manager for Facebook Events; and Scott Owens, Founder/CEO of DoStuff Media.
Having product managers from Google and Facebook provided the panel with an interesting contrast in missions in which Google, as a search provider, wants users to find the most relevant information about events while Facebook, as a platform, wants to provide users with the right tools to promote their events. Koolwal provided a screenshot of Facebook from 2005 to show how much Facebook had evolved from a platform for college students to one for everyone (Facebook Events used to be called “My Parties” which I can remember since I’ve had a Facebook account since 2002).
Public Relations, Public Radio, & Music
Dmitri Vietze, CEO of StoryAmp, moderated this panel of who’s who in the NPR universe with Bob Boilen (Host/Creator of NPR’s All Songs Considered), Monika Evstatieva (Director of NPR’s All Things Considered), and Vince Pearson (Producer of NPR Morning Edition). Surprisingly, there was lone person in the packed room who needed a quick summary of NPR, to which the popular quote was that “NPR is like the BBC for America.”
The panel mostly discussed how stories get pitched and ultimately get aired on NPR, which seemed invaluable to the many publicists in the audience. Since NPR doesn’t want to get to pigeonholed in any specific area, it made sense that producers would be interested in hearing any pitch as long as the story was engaging, the artist was interesting, and it fit well in radio format.
- Boilen recalled the creation of Tiny Desk Concerts that started with asking Laura Gibson to perform at the office whenever she was in town again.
- NPR doesn’t have a specific music reporter, which the network was trying to remedy.
- Producers work on a dibs system to ensure healthy competition and respect among each other for stories.
Former Swedish American Idol contestant Tove Styrke performed a brisk set at Hype Machine’s Hype Machine’s last night showcase Hype Hotel presented by Feed the Beat to a slowly building audience. The young Swedish electropop singer cited Robyn as a big influence on her sound, and it showed on songs like radio hit “Borderline,” “Number One” and new single “Ego.” It was a very good energetic set punctuated by the rebellious “Even if I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking to You.”
Cathedrals Clean Bandit
After standing in line for at least an hour waiting to get inside the Empire Control Room to catch the final performance of Cathedrals, I resigned to leaving as the scheduled start time came and went. I decided to make the long walk to Austin Music Hall to see the last three performances of the night for Clean Bandit, The Ting Tings and Tove Lo.
Having been only exposed to the its Grammy Award-winning song “Rather Be” with Jess Glynne, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the British electronic band. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the easy on the ears electronic dance sound, especially on “Extraordinary” which really got the crowd going. Glynne joined the band onstage for the final few songs including “Real Love” and the aforementioned “Rather Be.”
The Ting Tings
“Our one request [is] that you fucking dance!” Katie White, lead vocalist for British dance-punk duo The Ting Tings with Jules De Martino (drums and lead guitar), stated emphatically as soon as the band took the stage. I’m not sure everyone in the crowded followed, but the duo kept the music loud and moving while performing extended versions of their hits including “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “Wrong Club.” Next time you’re in a Ting Tings show, expect White to play a lot of cowbell.
The next and final act of the night at the Austin Music Hall was Swedish electropop singer-songwriter Tove Lo (real name is Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson). It was astounding to see how excited the crowd was to see the young Swede despite her only having one full album to her name; a credit to YouTube and the staying power of radio. Although there was a point where I thought the show would get cancelled after being delayed about 45 minutes due to (you guessed it) sound problems, all was forgiven once the music started and Tove Lo started dancing in her leather miniskirt.
While I thought Tove Lo’s performance would be raucous, I didn’t think it would be as sexual as it was with her provocative dance moves and vibrations throughout “My Gun” and “Got Love.” By this time, Tove Lo had teased the crowd about striping her clothes, but went all the way with a brief breast flash during “Talking Body” that excited that crowd to no end. Not to be outdone, she then asked the crowd for their clothes as she couldn’t be the only person striping, which resulted in many outerwear being tossed onstage; Tove Lo celebrated by putting on a white jacket and donning a tiara to finish the song. Already an eventful evening, the Swede singer finished her set with “Habits (Stay High).”
Note: This article was originally published on Blogcritics.