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SXSW 2018: Tuesday afternoon at German Haus – 13th March 2018 (Part 1)

By on Thursday, 22nd March 2018 at 11:00 am

We woke up at an ungodly hour – for SXSW, anyway! – to move into a downtown hotel and to catch the Output Belfast boat showcase, which you’ll hear about from Carrie soon. Following our good time watching Irish talent while going down the Colorado River and back, Carrie was off to the convention center, while my destination was Barracuda, home of German Haus for the week. In past years, I’ve given this place a pass. In the first few years I came out to Austin, I wasn’t even allowed in, as German Haus is badges only. Okay, so I was pretty bummed out when I didn’t have access. Now as badge-carrying press who can go in, I totally get their badges-only policy.

German Haus is unlike pretty much any other houses and venues across Austin during SXSW. Your favourite alcoholic drinks were available at the bar if you wanted to buy them but the people who brought us Oktoberfest weren’t in Austin to throw free booze at us. Therefore, there is no reason for them to welcome those in Austin who are only there to party. There was a complimentary Viennese Coffee House pop-up bar on Tuesday to keep the rest of us caffeinated and present for their interesting conference panels. I don’t drink coffee, so the fact that they also offered the most delicious hot chocolate during one of the coldest SXSWs I’ve experienced was priceless. It might sound strange and entirely un-rock ‘n’ roll that I am extolling the virtues of a hot beverage on an afternoon at a music festival. But believe me, when you are running around for days on little energy, think you’re going mad and often feel you might end up bawling because you’re exhausted, it’s the little moments of unexpected kindness and beauty that remind you why you’re here.

Tuesday was the takeover of German Haus by Advantage Austria, so strewn over the networking tables were scratch and sniff brochures of the natural fragrances of Austria (no, really), samples of the legendary Sachertorte (sadly, I got there too late to have one) and an invitation to visit one of their famous cafés. Maybe the chocolate was going to my head, but I fell in love with Austria that afternoon. I’ll get there one day soon.

German Haus - Advantage Austria - Tuesday at SXSW 2018

The session on Technology and Its Impact on Music, Marketing, and Culture was a positive one, starring panelists from Red Bull Media House, Linkfire and Columbia Records, as well as a successful musician. Martin Brem of Red Bull spoke of there being more money over the table than under the table, a sentiment that was echoed in other sessions I attended during the week. Gerald Hoffmann, aka Austrian rapper Gerard, offered up his unique perspective as an artist and how thinking outside of the box in terms of connecting with his fans. Specifically, he explained how letting them call his secondary mobile phone number and leave messages translated to them feeling like they have better connections with him, which in turn led them to buy his music in droves and give him more support.

German Haus - Advantage Austria - Tuesday at SXSW 2018 2

The session that followed, entitled Music and Artificial Intelligence, was one of many panels on AI offered across Austin during the week. While the fear of robots taking over our lives seems very real to many, the panelists were quick to dispel any worry that robots and computers were here to replace real live musicians. Gunter Loibl of worldwide music distribution company REBEAT Digital made the best statement of the panel: “It won’t be fun to sign an algorithm as an artist.” As handy as computers might be to create what could sound like a hit single, computers won’t be able to duplicate the personality, the charisma and certainly the spontaneity of a human being. So our musician friends will be in good shape for years to come, I reckon. If anything, as technologies progress, it will make music making easier and dare I say it, more fun, too, as evidenced by this female drummer who wore this amazing lace dress with tactile beat buttons on it. Want to wear a sequencer to your next party? It looks like you can do just that!

German Haus - Advantage Austria - Tuesday at SXSW 2018 3


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