Technology Converts at SXSW Music 2010, Interactive 2011

Google's impressive booth

It has been almost 4 years since I began my technology conversion with my music promotion consultancy Earbender. By adopting technology in order to communicate more effectively with my traditional sphere of contacts, college and community radio people, the relationships became managed on a public or macro level, therefore creating a new way to do the job – Promotion 2.0, after Brian Solis “PR 2.0.”

This year SXSW Interactive’s attendance surged by 40% and has equaled the registration (other than performers) to the Music festival.  SXSW 2010 was Earbender’s third year of attending both events in equal force, sponsoring showcases and schmoozing, etc. I was pleased to have placed my bets on music in the 80s and technology in the 00s!

A few folks asked what does this mean?  I think there will be a new conversation occurring with greater frequency this coming year – that is, which conference will be best to showcase music at?  While Brian Solis is able to draw Tony Hsieh, one of the major entreprenuers in America today to the Blogger Lounge to promote his book, “Delivering Happiness,” the interest from the music community is not commensurate with its online marketing appeal – yet.  My friend Aggie Gardner of the Davis McLarty Agency deserves a ton of credit for joining forces with me the past two years to supply Paula Nelson, Austin Collins and Matt King to perform. Aggie’s a man of vision and has a reputation across Texas as a great agent too.

With a growing number of influential friends who fit the description of “technology converts,” it will be this group that I bring into the lounge next year. Jessie Scott of Music Fog already hosts a great showcase at Threadgill’s during music, but in 2011, I will help her promote her site to the Interactive community. A few other people in this arena include Andy Schwartz (New York Rocker); Kyla Fairchild (No Depression); Linda Banks (Still is Still Moving); Joe Nick Patowski; Bill Bentley (Sonic Boomers) and Theda Sandiford (MissTheda.com). They are all converts from the old business who have added a technology component to their work for fun, influence and profit.  Anyone else I have missed would be just as welcome.  I will have about eight slots to fill for SXSW 2011, and I intend to generate sponsorship for the event as well.  If you are interested in showcasing or participating in any way, please contact me.

On the scale of the music business, I believe this is a critical conversion to make – the culture of the old music business must be part of the new music technology companies or we will continue to have our taste and discovery dictated by “algorhythms” and see clever developments like Kurt Cobain singing Bon Jovi in a video game.

In a discussion with Joe Ashear of Google about the future of the music business, we compared and contrasted the mores of the company (a “meritocracy”) and how music is promoted at his favorite radio station KFOG. It’s easy to imagine the technical mechanisms and a future process for delivering music, but the hand to hand combat of promoting and marketing it to consumers via old channels has not changed much. These old relationships will retain a large role in the new music business, as long as there are old rights holders, routine functions and most of all, a need to be sensitive to the music and musicians. There is no algorithm for music!!!!  But we can have music professionals handle the artists’ intellectual property with conscientious representation.

It’s up to us to do a good job for the music business.  Entertainment is America’s biggest export, and the music business, which has fueled a generation’s adoption of the internet (through Napster) and created the market for the handheld computer (iPod/iPhone), now deserves a chance to be nourished back to health by technology.

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