Wednesday, March 18 marked the second day of the 29th annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas.
Despite planning a full day for Wednesday’s events, I was overcome with a very long preceding day ending late (punctuated by a very delayed bus ride home) so it was not surprising that I unfortunately overslept which killed my morning schedule. I’m getting old and my ability to stay energetic for very late performances, which all are scheduled to end by 1:40am, is nil.
Reissuing Records: (Re)introducing Lost Classics
This panel discussed the important yet very complicated universe of reissuing records. Moderated by attorney Bradley Shenfeld, the knowledgeable panel included Dan Coleman, Managing Partner at Modern Works Music Publishing; Zach Ernst, Producer; and Matt Sullivan, Founder and Co-Owner of Light in the Attic Records. These professionals provided a glimpse of what’s involved when these music lovers want to bring lost classics back into the limelight.
If you know anything about music publishing, you can probably guess that the biggest hiccups would be obtaining rights and making the finances work with such relatively high-risk investments, which range from out-of-print works from big name artists to small prints from unknown ones. Coleman recalled a story about how a background track on Skee-Lo’s 1995 hit song “I Wish” was actually in publishing limbo because the music rights were never originally cleared, but once they were, the original musicians became popular (again) and there was a push to reissue their previous works as well as more efforts to sample them by other artists and publishers.
Why Curation Will Save the Music Industry
Tim Stickelbrucks, President of Saint Elmo’s Entertainment, moderated this panel, which also included Chris Becherer, SVP of Product at Rdio; Scott Cohen, Co-Founder of The Orchard; and Gary Stewart of Trunkworthy, about music curation, how it is used, and its future as fans become more active in music discovery. Stewart proclaimed his distaste for the term “curator” and instead directed his panelists to use “evangelist” or “advocate.”
No panelist embraced human curation over algorithms, as each has its positives and negatives; it really depends on how successful it is at getting music to people who want to listen to it. Today, there is a lot of competition to get into people’s ears; music publications still have a role in curation, but there are many apps available too like Pandora and Rdio that are putting music out there. The ongoing issues will always be mixing curation and personalization, balancing familiarity with personalization, and fulfilling fans’ listening experiences (both active and passive); but everyone is working hard to try to get it right.
Not content with a single showcase to spend several hours at, I decided to run all around the city to catch as many performances as I could.
Since arriving late to the festivities for the day, I managed to catch a few minutes of Danish duo Rangleklods with its pleasing lo-fi electronic sound.
The first scheduled act at the Samsung Milk Music Lounge, Alex Winston, played a very truncated set to a surprisingly sparse crowd. I’m not sure how many people there actually went to see the Michigan-native singer-songwriter, as Iggy Azalea was scheduled to perform later that night, so I didn’t see many people actually sing along to Winston (as most fans would do). Winston was energetic despite some dehydration as she grabbed a drink from someone in the audience, singing her recent single “Careless” and “Velvet Elvis.”
Summer Heart Vuurwerk
As it’s one of the most buzzed acts for the past few months, I was eager to see David Alexander’s solo project Summer Heart at the Red 7 Patio. Unfortunately, I arrived at the Red 7 without knowing that the Patio entrance was in the alley on the other side of the block. Apparently many other people were confused when Vuurwerk performed its dark music, a stark contrast to Summer Heart’s lo-fi dream pop. Although the music was dark, it was surprisingly sensual (but not like Sade) with its raw energy. It could have had something to do with the stark visuals being projected behind the band, which included images of Kate Bosworth and Scarlett Johansson (specifically from Under the Skin).
Young Rising Sons
I caught a few minutes toward the end of New Jersey alternative quartet Young Rising Sons, whose set included a nice cover of Modern English’s “I Melt With You,” at Maggie Mae’s.
Halsey (real name is Ashley Frangipane) was the last act on my day’s schedule. The rooftop at Maggie Mae’s provided a very intimate place for Halsey’s sensual downtempo electronic pop sound. Frangipane provided the most dialogue of any act I’ve heard so far (which is understandable given the rushed and delayed set times for practically every act), which was a pleasant surprise. She dedicated “Trouble” to a label executive whom she successfully “bullied” into letting her headline her own tour (which also sold out). Halsey ended the set with hit songs “Hurricane” and “Ghost” before her final proclamation: “I’m 20 years old, and I fucking love it here!” Now knowing her age, I’m not even sure she should have been allowed in the building.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00T4LLK46][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00IL4FRFK][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B009RJRK9Y][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00T4LLK46]