TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: music discovery and delivery, genres and eras, and international issues (Music Conference panel overview, part 2 of 4)

By on Thursday, 3rd March 2016 at 1:00 pm

Editor’s note: We’ve made some exciting changes to our annual TGTF Guide to SXSW this year! In addition to the music showcase portion of the guide that you are likely already familiar with, we’ll also be bringing you our picks of the best of the conference panel programming for the convention side of SXSW Music. The SXSW Music Conference is divided into 12 general categories of panels, called tracks, and we have divided our panel coverage into four separate articles, each highlighting a different sections of panel content. This is part two of our four-part preview. If you missed the earlier parts of our panel preview series, you can click here to find them.

Discovery and Delivery
It’s definitely an interesting time for music discovery. When I was in high school, you found out about music on the radio and MTV. These days, you can go on Spotify, have a listen to what artists the service recommends you listen to, and you can also check out what your favourite artists are listening to and what playlists of favourites they’ve put together. No wonder there’s a session called The State of Alternative Radio: Where Do We Go From Here? The airwave real estate on which bands that would have appeared without a doubt on alt-rock stations 20 years ago is now being encroached on by more mainstream, top 40 artists (Friday 18 March). The panel called How Radio is Shaping the ‘Entertain Me’ Button (Thursday 17 March), then, makes sense as providing the possible solution in the form of interactive, ‘smart’ radio. And if radio leaves you cold, check out The Art of Creating the Perfect Playlist (Thursday 17 March) and Tastemakers: Music Curation and Merchandising (Wednesday 16 March).

Four sessions in this conference track will focus on labels and A&R and represent the diverse options available to current artists. While Atlantic Records bods will provide their advice about the traditional model, from their established patch, through the A&R: The Craft of Making Records at a Major Labels panel on Friday 19 March, From Vine to Signed: The Future of A&R on Saturday 20 March will discuss how innovations in the social music space have changed talent discovery and how artists are signed. On Thursday 17 March will be the self-explanatory Creative Convergence: Artists as Labels, and what appears to be its sister session, Do Musicians Still Need Record Labels? to follow on Friday 18 March.

Genres and Eras
One of the smartest, special things about SXSW Music conference programming is that without fail, every year the organisers tap the incredible experience by music greats past in special keynotes and q&a sessions. 2016 is no exception. The keynote on Wednesday 16 March starring famed producer Tony Visconti will be particularly poignant, given his long-time association with the late David Bowie, including his work on the Berlin album trilogy. Want to relive the ‘80s? In the following hour at the convention center, you can head on over to USA Today reporter Mike Snider’s interview of female artist trailblazer Pat Benatar and her producer, songwriter husband Neil Giraldo. If you want to go even further back in time, you can do so on Thursday 17 March, when Dion – famed for his bewitching voice and megahits ‘Teenager in Love’, ‘Runaround Sue’ and ‘The Wanderer’ – will be chatting with The Orchard’s Richard Gottehrer about his career and his new album that will be out this year.

As described in Carrie’s preview of panels and showcasing artists with a feminist bent, Ann Powers will be chatting with Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, actress, and supporter of social causes Angelique Kidjo on Friday 18 March. If you’re in the mood for something left of centre by the time Saturday 20 March rolls around, SXSW has got that for you too: Canadian celebrity interviewer and all around crazy man Nardwuar the Human Serviette (who, for some inexplicable, amazing reason, is now following TGTF on Twitter) will be giving a talk and playing clips from his favorite audio and video interviews from his Video Vault.

Here now in the music liberation we feel and enjoy in the 21st century, we make take for granted that there were musical pioneers who came before that paved the way for the art we enjoy now. In Wardy Forty: When Dylan Met Woody, the untold story of Woody Guthrie’s life will be revealed, along with the pivotal moment when he met Bob Dylan and passed the torch for protest music, through photos, letters and the recollections of friends and family. No Future: 1976 and the Birth of Punk on Wednesday 16 March will discuss the importance of the Sex Pistols, Siousxie Sioux and the Banshees, the Slits and what the whole movement did for popular music as we know it.

We here at TGTF believe that the reported death of rock ‘n’ roll has been greatly exaggerated. However, for those conventioneers who wish to hear the many facets of this story, Back from the Dead: Is Rock & Roll on Life Support? is available to you. And indeed, who would be best to set this unfounded rumour to rest but the country that brought us Rammstein and The Scorpions? A Head Bangers Guide to Rock in Germany will bring you up to speed with the heavy metal scene in the Fatherland.

On the other side of the spectrum is a type of music that hasn’t been around nearly as long as folk, rock or punk but is ever growing in importance and influence. The genre of hip hop and the unique challenges its artists face get their due in the Can’t Tell Me Nothing: Independent Hip Hop (Thursday 17 March) and Understanding the Business of Christian Hip Hop (Friday 18 March) sessions.

International Issues
Music that might have once been confined to being spread to an originating band or artist’s home country or even region of a country now has the ability to be spread far and wide. Borders have dissolved, thanks to the internet. While the phenomenon of UK bands being discovered in America has just ramped up with this dissolution, things that might not ever have been possible – say, a fan club for a UK band starting up in the Philippines – prove the power and reach of the modern musical artist. But with the benefits of the far reach of the music industry comes additional, increasingly complicated obstacles for artists wanting to succeed.

The Real Book on Immigration for Musicians on Thursday 17 March looks to be one of the most useful sessions of SXSW Music this year, as it will touch on temporary work visas and other important immigration issues faced by bands, their management, and their staff. What else are bands worried about these days? Money, of course. Touring in Europe: Tax Obstacles (Friday 18 March) will address head on the half of Ben Franklin’s famous quote that we all dread but need to deal with.

Speaking of money, did you know that the EU are currently trying to develop new laws on how copyright will work within its confines? I sure didn’t. Seeing that Europe is a major market for music made in America and most everywhere else, it’s worth attending What is the EU Doing to My Music Rights? on Thursday 17 March if you’re interested in finding out what’s going to happen to your royalties there (and you should be paying attention).

With the great economic boom in Asia continuing on, it’s no wonder that the continent is looked upon with great interest as not only a place where artists can go and play to large, adoring crowds of fans. In Go East: Rising Force of the Greater China Market (Thursday 17 March), opportunities for Western artists to collaborate with those in the Far East will be explored. Developments in mobile music, e-commerce, and touring markets will also be under the microscope. India, expected to be a top 10 global market for this industry by 2019, will be the subject of its own panel on Saturday 20 March, The Opportunities in the Music Business in India.

Stay tuned for the third installment of our Music Conference panel preview. It posts next Tuesday, the 8th of March. New panel discussions are still being added to the schedule and as always, the panel schedule is subject to change. For complete, updated information on Music Conference tracks at SXSW 2016, click here.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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