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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: this year’s conference programming in the Music Culture & Stories track

 
By on Friday, 23rd February 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Music is such an important part of the fabric of our lives, and the effects of the stories that music makers tell through their art often go far beyond their original inspiration and intent. In the Music Culture & Stories track of the 2018 SXSW Conference, there’s plenty for the music fan to sink her/her teeth into on the influence of song and in the many directions music can take us our minds and hearts.

Documenting Music and Musicians
Though we may not be actively thinking about it on a regular basis, those who document music, musicians and the legacy of their art and how they have done this documentation have affected the way we consume and ultimately remember the music that has moved us. In an early afternoon session on Tuesday 13 March entitled ‘LONDON ROCK: The Unseen Archive’, Alec Byrne will discuss his decade-long career as a London rock photographer. Attendees will enjoy a slideshow of his rare images of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, and many other artists. These images have been stuck in an archive for almost 40 years, only resurfacing recently as part of Byrne’s book. Photographers have been some of the few in the industry who have crossed and allowed into the emotional inner sanctums of musicians, so Byrne will have some unique stories to share.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 14 March, panel session ‘Preservation & Appreciation of Album Art Today’ will discuss the effect of the size limitation of album covers in digital streaming platforms. With such a small graphic size available, how we can continue the artistic appreciation of the art form that was once so important enjoyed during the original heyday of vinyl in the ‘50s and ‘60s? Albums like The Beatles’ ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’ and the banana of ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ are remembered almost as much for their cover art as they are for the music they contain.

Music, Our Minds and Our Emotions
How music makes us feel is an important key to what we like and remember and what resonates with us emotionally. In ‘Ballads: A History of Emotions in Popular Culture’ on the afternoon of Saturday 17 March, University of British Columbia’s David Metzer will discuss his book The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé. Metzer believes when a ballad is written and released to the public and what is going on in the world at the time can influence how that song is experienced by the listener. Taking things on a more philosophical level, Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou of Zent Records in ‘The Task of the Artist in the Time of Monsters’ will provide his personal views on how artists through their songcraft “have a unique role to play as our nation comes to terms with these dark days.” (date TBA).

Two members of London rock band The Fish Police (header photo from their Facebook) have autism, and their conditions have informed the way they write music and unapologetically. Alongside staff from internationally acclaimed creative organization Heart n Soul, they will offer their unique perspective on making art in their own unique musical universe in the session ’Exploring Music Through the Lens of Neurodiversity’ early Wednesday afternoon (14 March). On a slightly different tack, local radio station KUTX will be taping their podcast This Song at SXSW 2018 on Thursday afternoon (15 March). Podcast host Elizabeth McQueen will be interviewing hip-hop artist and writer Dessa, who will describe a life-changing song and how it influenced her new album ‘Chime’. [NB: This taping will be held at the Wisteria Room at the Fairmont Hotel on 101 Red River Street and not at the Austin Convention Center.]

Iconic Venues
Some music clubs live on in memory, even long after they physically no longer exist. In
‘From CBGB to the World: A Downtown Diaspora’ on Friday 16 March, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke, Modern Recording artist Chris Stamey, Talking Heads members Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth, and visual artist Julia Gorton will recall what made the New York City dive bar special and why it’s remembered even today.

Despite the widely reported assault on music venues across Britain by property developers, we thankfully still have venues in North America who have stood the test of time. Session ‘The Horseshoe: the Roots of Canadian Rock n’ Roll’ will explore how this venerated institution in Toronto has survived for decades and been the starting point of a career for many Canadian rock acts who then went on to stardom beyond the Great White North. Closer to home and heart for Texans, ‘The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk’ and its over 5 decades of support for live country music will be discussed on the morning of Tuesday 13 March by none other than its long-time and only proprietor James White.

Musical Legacies
In terms of American musical heroes, who casts a bigger shadow than Elvis? In a featured session on Wednesday afternoon (14 March), there will be an exciting conversation about the upcoming three-hour, two-film HBO presentation on Elvis Presley that will premiere in April and includes “a comprehensive creative journey from his childhood through the final 1976 Jungle Room recording sessions”. The panel will include Presley’s widow Priscilla, legendary Memphis music writer and producer David Porter, director Thom Zimny and producer Jon Landau. Arguably Elvis’ counterpart in rap Tupac Shakur will be fondly remembered in ‘Still Thuggin: Tupac Relevance Over 20 Years Later’ on the afternoon of Friday 16 March.

In more recent, fast-paced times, there’s been the question of whether musical stars made through appearances on reality tv shows will live on or will they be quickly forgotten. In ‘Now What? Life After Reality TV Singing Shows’ on Saturday afternoon (17 March), Cas Haley (2007’s America’s Got Talent), Blake Lewis (6th season of American Idol) and NAKIA (1st season of The Voice) will share their experiences before, during and after appearing on millions of tv screen around America.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 events we cover here at TGTF, music conference programming is subject to change. We suggest you consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule for the latest additions and editions.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: this year’s conference programming in the Music Industry track

 
By on Wednesday, 21st February 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo of Shakey Graves by Greg Giannukos

SXSW Music Conference programming under the umbrella of the Music Industry track is intended to guide artists and other industry professionals through the promises and potential pitfalls of everyday business in the music world. This year’s Music Industry programming includes panel sessions on a variety of current trends and topics of interest, as well as touching base with the basics.

Music Industry Culture
Carrying on from programming at SXSW 2016 and SXSW 2017, this year’s music conference continues its meta-examination of music industry culture, starting with a question that digs down to the very root of the investigation. On Wednesday the 14th of March, a panel session titled ‘Is Culture Change in the Music Industry Possible?’ will consider “whether it is possible for such a complex, fragmented [industry] to develop a common culture, what an ideal music industry culture might look like, and most importantly, how we actually get there.”

A continued emphasis on feminism in the music industry manifests in several conference sessions, including ‘Women in Music: Break the Ceiling + Bridge the Gap’ on the 14th of March and ‘Sexual Misconduct in the Music Industry’ the following day. The former panel promises to “explore the challenges women face in negotiating and share tactics to become a better negotiator” as well as assessing “the current status of the gender and wage gaps and the impact these barriers have had on women in our industry.” The latter panel will specifically address sexual misconduct, with focus on “the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct and how this aggression affects the psyche of women working in music in regards to performance, promotions, equal pay and influence.”

Music Curation and Experience
‘Barriers to Innovation for New Music Experiences’ will begin the week on the 13th of March with a panel set to examine “current hurdles and roadblocks that face those building a new generation of music services and experiences”. In the spirit of an evolving music experience, a historical session titled ‘Curation, Collaboration & Community’ on the 14th of March “will outline the journey of Tileyard Studios and the revolutionary transformation of a dilapidated area of London to one of the most exciting music creators’ hubs in the world.”

Conference programming also reflects a continued interest in the ways modern listeners prefer to consume music, with topics ranging from terrestrial radio to digital playlist collaboration on the table for discussion. On one end of that spectrum, ‘Measuring What Matters in a Playlist-First World’ on the 14th of March will dive into the data on digital playlists with discussion about “how to understand and measure them” as well as what those measurements might reveal about “music consumption, marketing, and music creation”. At the other extreme, a session on the 16th of March called ‘Is This the Golden Age of Alternative Radio?’ finds that medium inexplicably “on the rise” and will examine how best to take advantage of its current popularity.

On the related topic of music curation and discovery, Pitchfork founder and editor-in-chief Ryan Schreiber will lead a panel on the 15th of March titled ‘Why Music Journalism Matters in the Streaming Era’, with discussion on “navigating new challenges, providing crucial context, and how to evolve as [music streaming] services threaten to push into the realm of content creation.” The following afternoon, ‘Stop the Scroll: Creative Strategy in Social Media’ will help online curators “learn how to make a creatively driven social strategy . . . [and] deliver campaigns that keep fans coming back for more.”

Artist Issues
Professional issues facing artists in the current music business atmosphere are, as always, at the center of this year’s Music Industry track. Early in the week on the 14th of March, ‘Beyond the Band: Shakey Graves’ will take a look at the “many different elements that comprise a successful career as a musician” in the context of Do617’s Beyond the Band partnership with Berklee College of Music and LATW Group. The featured artist on the panel is Shakey Graves’ Alejandro Rose-Garcia, pictured at top.

In the same vein of cooperation and collaboration, ‘The Band is With Me: The Art of Team Building’ on the 16th of March will talk about how to assemble a strong team of professionals behind a career artist, in the areas of “artist service platforms, PR, development/management, and marketing/touring.” More specifically, ‘What Does an Artist Manager Do and How to Get One’ on the 17th of March will find artist managers sharing “practical, concrete steps every artist can take to go about obtaining management” and ways for “up and coming managers . . . to help grow their clients’ careers exponentially.”

Financial issues are always at the forefront of an artists’ career, and there are many scheduled conference sessions surrounding the delicate topic of money. On the 15th of March ‘New Ways to Finance a Music Career’ will discuss artists’ “options [and] tools to self-finance their career outside of the traditional label/publisher system.” On the 16th of March, ‘We Will Rock You: Make a Big Noise with the Brands’ promises helpful tips on “how you can win that brand and help the brand tell a story [that will] come alive with your music.” In the same time slot, ‘Paid in Full: Fixing Music Rights for Artists’ covers the difficulties of “connecting billions of global streams to the right parties” and “how smart minds are working to find solutions.”

Mentor Sessions
A large number of Mentor Sessions with music industry professionals are listed under the Music Industry track. These sessions require RSVP, and access will only be available to badge types listed as having Primary Access. Featured mentors include record label executives, public relations professionals, artist development managers, marketing specialists and attorneys.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 events we cover here at TGTF, music conference programming is subject to change. We suggest you consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule for the latest additions and editions.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Chicago artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Friday, 10th March 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

If you followed TGTF’s coverage of SXSW 2016, you might have noticed that we branched out a bit last year to include more American and international bands in both our previews and our live coverage of the music festival. To continue in that vein this year, we’re offering preview coverage of showcasing bands and artists from selected cities in America. Today’s selection of SXSW 2017 featured artists comes from the Midwest, specifically the so-called ‘Windy City’ of Chicago.

Hip-Hop/Rap artists predominate the Chicago contingent, with a staggering 14 acts represented in that category. Joey Purp leads the charge, bringing along his single ‘Girls’ feat. Chance the Rapper. Old school rap duo The Cool Kids are back from a self-imposed hiatus with their new single ‘Running Man’. Well-known activist-artist Malcolm London (pictured at top), who is a featured speaker in the SXSW 2017 Music Conference, will also showcase his performance talents as part of the Music Festival. And among the most fascinating new artists is DePaul University Biological Sciences student by day / hip-hop artist by night femdot., who will appear in Austin on the strength of his breakthrough EP ‘fo(u)r’.

The Rock category comes next, with 10 artists on the bill. Eclectic art-rocker Tim Kinsella will showcase both on his own and with his band Joan of Arc, featuring their latest release ‘He’s Got This Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands’. In a somewhat more mainstream vein, indie rock five-piece Modern Vices are making a return trip to SXSW, presumably with new music in tow, having released their self-titled debut LP back in 2014. Last but surely not least, two female-led rock bands, Ratboys and Wild Belle, will also make the southward trek to Austin.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/XHG_0VHGi8c[/youtube]

The combined categories DJ/electronic and r&b comprise four showcasing artists each, though the two DJ acts both involve House DJ Chrissy Shively, known on stage simply as Chrissy. He will perform as a solo artist in the DJ category, as well as showcasing with vocalist Hawley Shoffner in the duo act Chrissy & Hawley under the Dance heading. In the R&B genre, the activist poetry of Jamila Woods and her album ‘#HEAVN’ stand out as a sure hit.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/asVhafDASjo[/youtube]

Rounding out the Chicago delegation, there are two gospel acts on the docket, Psalmist Raine and Marty B. Pop acts Sunset and MAMA also made the list, along with five-piece bands Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquestra and The Waco Brothers, who are the lone Windy City representatives in Latin rock and alt country, respectively.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/9s1KWrrWuY8[/youtube]

Stay tuned to TGTF next week for more coverage of Chicago artists live from SXSW 2017. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: this year’s conference programming on Activism and the Arts

 
By on Friday, 10th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

If you follow any of your favourite musicians on Twitter or Facebook, you might have seen them post to social media about causes that are near and dear to their hearts. Many artists, like recent SXSW alumnae Natalie Prass and Lissie, go a step further and elect to donate proceeds from their work to charitable causes, contributing to both fundraising and awareness. Conference programming at SXSW 2017 has taken notice of this kind of artist activism, recruiting an eclectic variety of speakers and panelists to highlight the trend.

For a bit of background, the SXSW 2017 Music Conference and Festival officially begins on Monday the 13th of March but the Interactive and Film portions of SXSW start ahead of the weekend on Friday the 10th. The intersection among the three conferences, where participants from all three disciplines come together, is known as Convergence. One of the seven Convergence tracks at this year’s SXSW is titled Social Impact, and its conference sessions are intended to “highlight innovative ideas from the creative industries that are contributing to a better, more equitable world.”

Cecile Richards press photo

On Friday the 10th of March, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards and Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp will start the Social Impact proceedings what will likely be a heavily attended conference session called ‘Activism, Allyship and Where We Go from Here’. Another popular choice will likely be ‘The Celebrity (Activist) Industrial Complex’ on the 13th of March, in which panelists Anne Helen Peterson of BuzzFeed, Elisa Kreisinger of Refinery 29 and Glen Weldon of NPR will tackle the question: “Do celebrities have a responsibility to use their power and privilege for good?”

Two sessions more specific to music activism will happen on Wednesday the 15th of March. ‘Creating For a Cause: Music for Action & Awareness’ will “discuss currencies and methods of giving to communities, organisations and nonprofits”, as well as building philanthropic partnerships and creating cause awareness. In a session on the ‘Healing Power of Music’, Chris Funk of The Decemberists will join a panel which focuses on delivering music therapy alongside medical services to hospitals and vulnerable patient populations.

Chris Funk press photo

Under the auspices of the Music Conference proper, sessions in both the Music Industry and Music Influencers tracks take aim at artist activism. In the aptly-titled Talk 20 session ‘Artivism’ on the 17th of March, artist, educator and activist Malcolm London will engage audiences by sharing original poetry and discussing his work with community arts organisations and social movements. Management teams for Usher and Panic! At the Disco will appear on the panel ‘Cause Marketing for Musicians in 2017’, scheduled for the 16th of March, where they “will share how entertainers are building measurable support for amazing charities while growing their brand affinity.” Extravagant Records founder Weldon Angelos, joined by rapper Snoop Dogg and attorneys Vikrant Reddy and Mark Holden, will comprise a panel titled ‘Artist to Advocate: Fighting for Criminal Justice’ on the 18th of March. Angelos will talk with members of the music community gathered in Austin about his unjust prison sentence for a minor drug crime and will also discuss “how artists can work together to achieve lasting reform.”

Weldon Angelos press photo

Activism and the arts have evolved from a fringe concept to one of the key components of conference programming at SXSW 2017. Given the current political climate here in America, we expect to see a variety of in-person examples of social activism during the music conference and festival in Austin next week. Keep an eye on TGTF for our ongoing coverage; as always, any information we bring to you about SXSW 2017 is subject to change. You can stay up-to-date on the official SXSW schedule by clicking here.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Welsh artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Friday, 10th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Wales may be small in size, but they are a proud country never short of praise and support of their musical artists. BBC Radio 1 presenter Huw Stephens is quick to promote his countrymen and women, and I am sure he’s pleased with all five of the artists to showcase this year at SXSW 2017. The summaries of acts below were written by Rebecca Clayton and Steven Loftin. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Casi – pop / Bangor
A young singer/songwriter originally from Bangor, Wales, Casi Wyn is currently based in London. Casi grew up speaking her mother tongue of Welsh and hearing traditional music, before getting into pop music in her teens, which probably explains the melding of eerie vocals and electropop rhythms in her music. Last year, Casi released her entrancing single ‘Lion’, an ethereal and moving track that showcases Casi’s angelic vocals and her evocative song writing. Since then she’s also shared ‘Golden Age Thinking’ and this year’s ‘The Beast’ via her label Chess Club Records. (Rebecca Clayton)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=873g5wS7ltM[/youtube]

Chain of Flowers – post-punk / Cardiff
A surprisingly great modern take on post-punk. Choruses thick with reverb and longing lyrics, Chain of Flowers are definitely a band worth a listen. They recently released their self-titled debut LP that should go straight on your list of must listens. I mean, come on, they’re named after a The Cure song, right? (Steven Loftin)

Dan Bettridge – singer/songwriter / Ogmore-by-Sea
With a voice older than his years, Dan Bettridge is the soulful folk singer from the small village of Ogmore-by-Sea in Wales. Bettridge, who has been playing guitar from an early age, first appeared on the scene in 2013 when he released the EP ‘Hunter’s Heart’. He is currently working on his debut album. He rereleased his single ‘Rosie Darling’ last year, a gentle, country sounding number, and ‘Third Eye Blind’ back in 2015, a bluesy, soulful track that transports you out of your own skin and onto the neon-lit streets that Bettridge sings about. (Rebecca Clayton) [We’ve been informed that sadly, Dan Bettridge will not be joining us in Austin. – Ed.]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UYER_GK6bc[/youtube]

Meilyr Jones singer/songwriter / Aberystwyth
Exactly what Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey’s love child would sound like, and this isn’t a bad thing believe it or not. The optimism of a young Cocker, with the yearning howl of an in-his-prime Moz. Lyrical structure that puts most novelists to shame, ‘How To Recognise Art’ is, well, a work of art. He also won the Welsh Music Prize in 2016, if that tempts you further. (Steven Loftin)

The Sandinistas – punk / Tredegar
A Welsh band named after a Clash album? Count us in. Having only released their debut single last year, The Sandinistas are gaining some serious momentum already. When you listen to the adrenaline-inducing riot of their single aptly titled ‘Ready To Blow’, you can see why. Get on this band. Now. [They’ve also already been championed by Fred Perry, who have been rarely wrong in spotting potential. – Ed.] (Steven Loftin)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik74yCjG7S4[/youtube]

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: this year’s conference programming on Music Cities

 
By on Thursday, 9th March 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

The idea of developing so-called “music cities” became popular in the music industry following Sound Diplomacy Music Cities Conventions in Brighton and Washington, DC in 2015. Our own editor Mary attended the Music Cities Convention in DC that year and was impressed by the breadth of expertise among the convention attendees, as well as their universal dedication to keeping music alive and well at the community level.

Though Austin certainly already fits the definition of a music city, the SXSW Music Conference picked up on the idea in 2016 with a pair of conference sessions, ‘How To Build A Music City’ and ‘Why Every Music City Should Have A Night Mayor’ specifically geared toward further development of music cities in America. The sessions examined the roles and interactions between “musicians, entrepreneurs, and innovators” and city government representatives in encouraging curation and maintenance of vibrant local music scenes.

PARTYBABY at SXSW 2016

This year’s SXSW Music Conference takes the music cities concept a step or two farther, expanding its offerings on the subject to build upon the foundation laid in last year’s sessions. Two main sessions in the Music Industry track focus directly on building music cities, while a number of other sessions deal with peripherally related topics relevant to supporting music within a city’s infrastructure.

On Thursday the 16th of March, leaders from established music cities will present ‘How To Build A Music City – The Launch’. Their aim is to follow last year’s discussions regarding advocacy and resource management with advice on specific planning processes for building successful music programs and fostering thriving local music communities.

The next day, Friday the 17th of March, expands the music cities concept to a broader global vision, taking on the idea of a vast, worldwide ‘Music Cities Network’. According to the official Conference schedule, “This session will talk necessities, goals, agenda and benefits of a global music cities network. It will focus on knowledge exchange and policy, city development and city marketing.”

JoJo Abot at SXSW 2016

Also in the Music Industry Track are a handful of sessions focused on more specific aspects of local music culture. On the 15th of March, ‘New Nashville: The Evolution of Music Publishing’ will look to Nashville as an established music city to “give examples of current and past ideas that have shaped the industry; what’s working, what’s not working, and what does the future hold?” A condensed Talk 20 session on that same day titled ‘Music Industry Development for Diverse Communities’ will tackle questions such as “How well do we do at supporting and representing the full spectrum of diversity in our communities?” and “How do we balance championing the artists best positioned to have success in the market with the full diversity of the region we represent?” An even more specialised session on the 17th of March called ‘I Remember That Band: Preserving Local Music’ talks about how local music archives get started, how they impact the music scene, and what kinds of information they can provide about their local communities.

More peripherally, the Touring & Live Experience Track features several panel sessions relevant to music culture in smaller cities. ‘How to Sell Your Event to a City’, on the 15th of March, encourages formation of “positive, mutually beneficial, and long lasting relationships with the host cities and their respective tourism boards and local government, by concentrating on increased local economic growth”. Music festivals, specifically, are addressed under topics such as ‘Rethinking the Future of Music Festivals’ (17th March), ‘Families at Music Festivals’ (16th March), and ‘The Definitive Profile of the Festival Superfan’ (16th March), while community-level events in smaller spaces are discussed in ‘Intimate Spaces: Programming Small Venues’ (16th March) and ‘Saving Small Venues & The Independent Music Scene’ (18th March).

The Spook School at SXSW 2016

With their 2017 programming, the SXSW Music Conference is getting behind Sound Diplomacy and the Music Cities Convention’s overarching goals of “improving urban planning, quality of life, city policy and development strategies through music” and exploring “the role and impact of music across education, employment, community building, placemaking, licensing and regulation.” And after 30 years of playing host to SXSW, what better city is there to illustrate the challenges and successes of cultivating a local music scene than Austin itself?

As always, the SXSW Music conference schedule is subject to change; for complete, updated information on Music Conference tracks at SXSW 2017, consult the official SXSW schedule here.

 
 
 

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