As per usual for this time of year, I blog about the week I spend working, talking and learning in Austin, TX.
At this point, I feel like a pro at navigating SXSW. This was my sixth year moderating a panel, and while SXSW grows bigger, it somehow still retains the charm of “every interesting person you’ve ever wanted to meet in the music industry going to a great big hang.” Of course, it is no longer just about music, with their tech and movie fests, but it is still the same SXSW I’ve grown to love.
My panel, Secrets of The Trade – Release Your Music Without a Traditional Label was really special. Of all the years I’ve been moderating, this year SXSW put panels in to Tracks (categories), and mine fell in to the “HOW TO” column. The audience, about 75 musicians, was genuinely interested in how to direct their career themselves - they were there to learn how to do something better.
All of the panelists were great: singer/songwriter/violinist Gingger Shankar, singer/songwriter Jamie Kent, manager Phil Schuster and marketing director Adam Swart (you can read more on them here: https://goo.gl/S06MZO). Each was able to add a lot of insight from a different area of strength. Phil, who manages artists at Mute Management, focused on licensing and synch opportunities, and talked about how important it is to look for unique breaks for your clients. Adam, who is a marketing director at Fiverr, where goods and services are offered for five dollars, told the audience how his company is allowing artists to be true to themselves because they can offer songwriting tips or music lessons on Fiverr rather than a job that takes the away from their passion. Gingger Shankar encouraged networking and collaboration, telling attendees that you will never know how one thing you do will affect another, and you may not even realize until further down the line. She emphasized the importance of not counting on immediate results, but being patient, and seeing the value of taking one step at a time. Jamie Kent also stressed the importance of networking, and said that most of what he has managed to achieve came from connections he cultivated himself.
If there was any take away from my panel, it was that hard work and tenacity is the path to taking control of your music career. We had a long line of questions after the panel ended, which showed me this was an impressive crop of people who made a big investment to be there. That says something not only about the people who were there, but the direction the music industry is heading in. Your career as an artist has never been more in your control.