5 SXSW Panels I’d Love to See Next Year

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Yes, you can actually vote on the panels that will be featured at South by Southwest.

Even if you’re a regular at SXSW, you may not realize that there’s an elaborate panel selection process that starts months before the event.  The process — called ‘PanelPicker’—  is overseen by SXSW chief programming officer Hugh Forrest and actually gets underway about 7-8 months ahead of the next conference.

That makes sense: SXSW is an absolutely enormous event spanning music, tech, film, and the environment, among other sub-divisions.  We’re guessing that the SXSW team takes about a week off after the end of one event, then comes back and starts a 51 week setup process for the next one.

Accordingly, the conference’s PanelPicker process for 2019 started in July, with thousands of entries pouring in.  Now, SXSW is inviting people to vote on what they want to see.

Here are a few proposed panels I’d love to see get green-lighted.

These are all core to the music industry and will be valuable to artists, rights owners, managers, label execs, and others.  But these are five out of thousands of proposals, so to browse on your own, jump over to panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote, register, and upvote what you like.

Also, voting ends Thursday (August 30th) at 11:59 pm PT.

1. A&R 2018: Gut Instinct vs. Data

“A&R used to stand for Artist & Repertoire. Today it stands for Analytics & Research.” 

That’s the very apt opening line in the description for this panel, which takes an interesting look at the massive changes in artist discovery and development.  This panel, which features two major label executives, will delve into all sorts of factors that lead to artists getting signed — and whether that’s good.

The panel will feature Eric McLellan of Sire Records/WMG, Drew Thurlow of Sony Music Entertainment, and Craig Snyder of ReverbNation.  You’ll probably get some insights into how to game the A&R system, or whether you really want to play this game at all.

More details on this panel here.

2. HD Vinyl: How a Crazy Idea Is Becoming Reality

What’s wrong with vinyl?  Nothing, except for the endless manufacturing bottlenecks, horrific environmental impact, and limited playing times.  Which is exactly what HD Vinyl is trying to solve.  The concept, hatched by Austrian company Rebeat Innovation, replaces manual etching and chemical processes with lasers, reducing turnaround time and boosting sound quality by about 30%.  It also increases playing time by about 30% as well, while opening lots of new connections with digital formats.

The CEO of Rebeat — someone I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with on this — will detail the entire concept in this panel, while establishing early partnerships with labels and rights owners.  It’ll also be fun for anyone who loves vinyl (and tech).

More details on this panel here.

3. Solving the Music Industry’s Data Problem

This panel takes a very serious look at music metadata, and the thousands of issues that are holding back proper matching and royalty payments.  If you’re a regular reader of DMN, you know we write about this issue a lot — with a focus on both companies solving the problem and those exacerbating it.

But the bigger trend is towards data-focused solutions and universal data standards, which means better matching and more payments going to the rightful rights owners.

One notable executive on this panel is Chris McMurtry, who is pioneering an AI-based metadata solution for Exactuals.  McMurtry initially started with insanely complex problems relating to classical music, before broadening his focus at Exactuals.  McMurtry is joined by Robert Clement of Songspace, Joel Jordan of Synchtank, and Edward Ginis of OpenPlay, all of whom have a lot to say about this topic.

More details on this panel here.

4. The Future of Music Publishing.

The suddenly explosive field of music publishing gets a solid look on this proposed panel, with execs from Downtown Music Publishing, Songtrust, and Distrokid breaking things down.  This includes a look at different types of music royalties, plus strategies for maximizing them.

Featuring Philip Kaplan of Distrokid, Jason Cerf of Songtrust, Brandon McCartney of Girltime Records, and Cabrea Casey of Downtown Music Publishing.

More details on this panel here.

5. 60 Music Revenue Streams In 60 Minutes.

This proposed panel comes from Randy Chertkow, author of Indieguide.  It’s a rapid-fire presentation of monetization ideas for artists and rights owners, and almost guaranteed to generate a few good ideas.

More details on this panel here

Oh, and one more for the curious music historians out there:

6. Gems of a Forgotten Era: Anatolian Rock Revival.

Apparently Turkey has a musical history that got wiped out by a decidedly non-musical government coup.  Here’s how Gökhan Yücel, Creative director at fikr’et, puts it:

“The coup d’etat in 1980 resulted in a cultural erosion and in the arts, especially music. Artists had to flee the country, most got jailed, their recordings burned by the military forces. Nowadays, however, the music of the 1960s and the 70s is resurfacing. Anatolian Rock Revival Project is a non-profit initiative to make people aware of this music with the power of design and illustration.”

More on Yücel’s proposed presentation here