Monday, April 13, 2009

SXSW Part 7 - Softball

The last day of SXSW was reserved for the softball game. I was on the record label team, and incredibly, we schooled our first round opponent (the agents, maybe?) 27-12. Second round was not quite as productive as we got mercy-ruled (there was no mercy rule in Round 1) 14-4 by the SXSW staff team. Oh well...better luck next year. We won one game, which is something my regular team here in Vegas can't seem to grasp the concept of.

Overall, I had a good time at the festival. Would have been more fun if I had attended with someone else. I hope a few of the contacts turn out to open some doors. Otherwise, I'm not sure the $1,500+ I dumped will be worth it.

Anyway, I hope you all (and by all, I mean the 3 people who may be reading this) will continue to follow my adventures in the music industry. ProGenitor Entertainment Network is in the setting-up stages, so I will try to post entries on a semi-regular basis to keep "everyone" updated on how things are going. Coming soon will be the "It's Alright EP" by Faryn Sand and Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

SXSW Part 6 - Day 4

Saturday got off to a somewhat inauspicious start. The shuttle was a no-show so I had to call the folks running the service to get one to swing by. The plan was to grab food before the day's festivities began, but I ended up not having time. So onto the...

12pm Quickie Session - "In the Studio." This turned out to involve highly technical discussions regarding recording equipment, the engineering process and the like - way over my head. When I posed questions that were specific to my situation and interests, I got some rather broadbased answers. Not too helpful.

For some odd reason, I was totally fried at this point, so I scrapped plans to participate in the Mentor Session, and picked up some much-needed nourishment. The Mentor Sessions were designed to offer an opportunity to speak one-on-one with a number of industry "experts," but I didn't even see anyone particularly intriguing on the list. Looked like a bunch of local Austin-ites.

At 3pm, I attended a panel discussion on fan-based marketing. A few interesting ideas were thrown out, but again, a little underwhelming. That did it for the seminar portion of SXSW. As you can tell from my comments, I was a little disappointed at the perceived value I got for my money, but I think time will have to tell. If even one of the little tidbits I picked up turns out to lead to something good, then it will likely all have been worth it.

Crashed for a few hours back at the motel and headed back downtown around 10pm. I couldn't for the life of me find anything that piqued my interest on the show schedule prior to the Third Eye Blind set, which was scheduled for 1230am. So I had some dinner at a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, which was pretty good.

Got to Stubbs about 1145pm, which was about half hour into the Indigo Girls set. I caught the last 4 or 5 songs they played. Surprisingly enough, they were really good. I've never been a fan, and know practically nothing that they sing, but they sounded spot on. Glad I got there early.

After a riveting 50-minute equipment check, Third Eye Blind came on at 1250am. I have mixed feelings about this one. The songs of theirs with which I was unfamiliar (read: most of them) did not blow me away. A couple were decent. And I have to hand it to Stephan Jenkins; he's an undeniably charasmatic front man. I'd heard that they had a rabid following - even years after their commercial peak - and accordingly, the place was packed to the rafters. They did play "Jumper" and "Never Let You Go," which were probably the two lesser-known of their four hits. But continuing in the mind-numbing tradition of one-hit or few-hit wonders who seem to have an aversion to playing songs for which they are best recognized, they left out "Semi-Charmed Life" and "How's It Gonna Be." If you have fewer than seven hits or so in your entire career, your setlist shouldn't really involve that much guesswork. They're about to put out their fourth album. It's not like they've been around since 1972. Unless the set is otherwise blistering, this "hit neglect" automatically ruins the whole experience for me. Sure - the die hard fans knew the other songs. But there's a reason why these songs were hits - they were probably amongst your best. And there were several other fans expressing dismay when the lights came back up. You're there for the fans, not for you. Play the freakin hits. Especially when one was arguably one of the catchiest pop tunes of the 90's. GRADES: Indigo Girls B+/Third Eye Blind (A for stage presence), (F for setlist) - C overall

Thursday, April 2, 2009

SXSW Part 5 - Day 3

So Day 3 started off with another "Quickie Session," this one on the topic of live shows. Still enjoyed this format more than the panel discussions. Spoke with Jordan Burger, the booking agent for one of my favorite songwriters, Angie Aparo. Also had the drummer from Blondie, Clem Burke and the talent buyer for Central Park SummerStage sit at our table.

Next was a panel called, "Artist Development meets Economic Reality." More with the speakers going off on tangents, broad discussion bringing up points we could, for the most part, figure out ourselves - more managers are serving capacities traditionally filled by labels, major label support budgets are lower these days, working as an indie artist does not provide for a glamorous lifestyle, money is in touring not selling CD's, etc. Heard a lot of it before.

Next panel was on licensing music. A few more potentially useful were Web sites thrown out here, but again, I don't think the moderator was really doing his job. They did not touch upon all the different kinds of rights that they mentioned at the outset.

Late that afternoon, I finally got to walk the Trade show. Collected some business cards. A lot of the exhibitors were Web-based businesses with sites geared towards being one-stop shops for "baby" or developing acts. Offering a variety of services including help with development of e-marketing campaigns, ticketing, manufacturing, digital retail. One in particular, has been around since 1997, which generated a little more interest on my part, since many of the others were just launching and who knows if they'll be around 6 months from now? It was good to talk to some folks and see some reinforcement that indie musicians and labels have a plethora of resources at their disposal.

That night, the original plan was to see Margaret Cho at 9pm, but it turned out to be a littany of back-to-back comedians doing 15-minute sets, plus there was no shuttle at that time, so I skipped it. Headed over to The Ale House to see Rocco DeLuca and The Burden at 1130pm, but got there at 11. That turned out to be my best move of the festival. L.A.-based singer-songwriter, Tyrone Wells was going on just as I arrived. Very brief 20-minute set, but far and away the best performance I saw in Austin. Great to discover a "new" musician, albeit one who has apparently been releasing material for a decade. The guy can sing his head off. Grade: A+. Downloaded many of the songs from his latest album, "Remain" when I got home. Check him out. Rocco DeLuca turned out not to be my cup of tea, but oh well. I thought I was going to be sneaky and try to listen to the "surprise" Metallica show from outside Stubbs. No chance of actually getting in, as people had been lined up since the afternoon. Turns out, there was no chance of hearing it either, as the information I had heard - that they were going on around 1230am - was faulty. I got there around 1145pm and they had already been and gone. Not a big deal. Supposedly, some other big name acts showed up for unannounced sets throughout the festival, including Blondie, Kanye West and Jane's Addiction. Anyway, I had planned to catch a couple other late night shows, but once again, my energy reserves betrayed me, and I found myself heading back to the motel.