Sunday, March 18, 2007

SXSW and Freeing Music...

The South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) is underway and has been one of the most blogged about stories all week long. Why? On the surface, it is a music festival like any other - dozens of indie bands lighting it up in Austin, Texas for the better part of a week - and a lot of corresponding drunken testimonials taboot.

But forget the music. Most of the buzz in the blogosphere is about "SXSW Interactive". The website describes itself as "attracting digital creatives as well as visionary technology entrepreneurs". I don't even know what that means. However, what's clear is that the numerous panels have featured technologists (rather than music industry wonks) lecturing on topics that relate to how the internet and social networking sites are altering the dynamics of music. For instance, one enticing presentation is by Amy Vickers titled “The New Business of Collectivism”, and is about "how online collectives - whether CrowdIQ, Marketocracy, or Zopa - are forcing tough business and political decisions", and particularly in "how social media is instigating social change".

People are going a bit nuts (which makes me secretly wish I was there). Beckychr007 on Technorati claims that "SXSW is part of the Web 2.0 deal which is going to tear down Hollywood, the Networks, the Publishing Houses, the Music Industry-and replace it all with Blogs, Digg, YouTube and MP3. All very hippie. In Marxist terms the traditional media is the exploitive bourgeoisie and we will all be liberated by the heroic bloggers and podcasters."

Likewise, Parnell states , "SXSW stands for all that free music stands for. For the most part the mainly revolutionary attendees believe the corporate music industry can be broken since mainstream record labels care more about selling records than making good ones."

Let's not jump completely off the deep end. I've been scouring online material all this St. Paddy's Day weekend and can't find any definitive evidence to explain why people are making such bold claims. It appears that the only thing revolutionary that's emerged are a handful of ideas in speeches by techies, about how technology is going to change the music world.

And that's hardly anything new.

(If anyone actually attending the conference can clarify what all the fuss is about, I'd be grateful.)


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