*Disclaimer: L4M is fully biased as it works directly with Music Dealers.
Now that we’ve all had enough time to reflect on, (and recover from) our time at SXSW, we want to share a couple prominent themes we feel highlighted our own experience at the conference: striking change and profound gratitude.
If you’ve been attending SXSW for a while like we have, one thing is clear: the music industry has undergone massive changes, and nowhere are those changes reflected more intensely than at South by Southwest.
Since its inception over 20 years ago, SXSW has evolved from parking lot performances, bbqs and Shiners into a $65 million dollar event which attracts representatives from the world’s most powerful brands, industry heavy weights and thousands of musicians. The still-sizable and ever-changing industry descends on Austin, all seeking their piece of the pie. But what our conversations at the conference revealed is that this pie’s recipe has changed.
Clearly sugar, water, flour just aren’t going to cut it anymore.
Companies and individuals who were deeply entrenched and seemingly in a position of ever-lasting power have been swiftly unseated. New players have quickly emerged, whose foresight allowed them to gamble smart and win big on new online trends, social media and mobile technology. What we saw at SXSW this year were industry pros who were finally coming to the grips with the fact that they may have missed the boat.
The theme of many of our meetings went something like this: How are you guys succeeding? Why am I going to lose my job at a major label when you guys keep opening offices in new locations? How did you get involved with working directly with brands? Are you hiring?
Now, as you all know, the Music Dealers company and brand philosophy is and will always be: Artists First.
Which leads to our next point: Profound Gratitude.
We are nothing without you. This basic principle helped us build our core business, and will forever guide our day-to-day activities. For some reason, the old industry somehow forgot this, or will simply not accept it. Without music, there is no music industry. How can a company possibly succeed in this industry if they think about the music and artists after they think about themselves?
By putting our artists first, our clients and customers know what they are getting. They know that what we offer is legitimate art from the best emerging artists all over the world. Our clients understand the value in that and the weight that it carries with the consumer. Our core belief of Artists First will continue to give us collective opportunities that had previously been unattainable for independent companies and independent musicians.
While SXSW and the music industry may have changed, we can assure you that one thing has not: without hard-working musicians, neither would exist.
Your friends at Music Dealers
It’s off to another SXSW for us at L4M. This year will be the first in 5 where we will not hosting a showcase. Without necessarily meaning to, we seem to be have identified with a global trend: Is Southby really worth it anymore?
There have been numerous editorials, blogs, tweets etc. that have dismissed SXSW as washed up, too corporate, EXPENSIVE, and too cluttered. I think I agree with the last three.
In preliminary discussions with our partners in Austin it became painfully clear that if we wanted to continue with the L4M showcase at the same magnitude as the years past, we would have to partner (i.e. get money from) several companies and probably become an “official showcase”. While that was a possibility, partnering and becoming official means that you cannot choose your roster, venue or time slot. Not sure why we would host a showcase with artists we don’t work with at a location we have not selected ourselves. If we were just hosting a party to host a party it would make sense, but our purpose has always been to showcase our artists and give them a platform to express themselves in front of an audience of fans and industry folks. With the number of large companies and sponsors and limited quality venues, our goal seemed unattainable.
This year we are heading down for interactive to see if the popular claim: “You can actually get business done at Interactive” rings true. So far (after two days) it has become apparent that interactive really means plugged in; as in plugged into any electrical outlet. While there are amazing entrepreneurs here, it is hard to have an actual conversation with anyone as the vast majority of attendees are “interacting” with their handheld devices, laptops (L4M is guilty of this) or other new dew hickey. Definitely some cool stuff here, but hard to really feel connected (other than to an outlet).
More to come…