SXSW video recap of our favorite moments: plus, is it worth it for indie artists to attend?

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CD Baby at SXSWThe CD Baby take on SXSW: Is it “worth it” for independent musicians? What were our favorite moments? Read on…

We sent a great little gang of our very own CD Babies to SXSW this year, and man: what a time they had.

Between our showcase, our panel discussions, our Portland Party, and getting to meet a ton of current (and future) CD Baby artists, it’s amazing that we remembered to bust out the camera to capture some of the memories.

But we did! And we’ve compiled a few of those moments in a video that’ll make you feel like you were right there in the action (see below).

Should indie acts go to SXSW? Is it worth the effort and expense?

Phil Bauer (CD Baby’s Director of Digital Distribution) says:

It’s absolutely worth attending and/or playing, but only if you approach it with a clear strategy. It’s not geared for the “let’s buy a ticket and see what happens” casual attendee, and simply securing a showcase doesn’t mean it will be worth the time, trip or money for an indie artist. 

It can be an important piece of the puzzle – a chance to be seen by an audience rich with fans and music industry professionals alike; but it’s also incredibly easy to be lost in the noise and chaos.  Making sure you’re playing the right showcase (not just a showcase), incorporating it with a tour, lining up a release and publicity to coincide around your appearance, or simply acknowledging you’re there to have a good time and play/watch some music can all be recipes for success.

Just showing up and hoping you’ll figure it out when you get there, or going cuz you landed a noon time slot at the [insert generic company name here] day party is not.

Ben Hubbird (CD Baby Digital Promotions) says:

If you have specific goals in mind, it can be a huge help to be there. For example, if you have a label ready to release your record, you have a publicist lined up, everything is in place, and just need to find the right booking agent, SXSW can be a great place. But you have to work really hard to actively meet people. Just showing up and playing shows and hoping people see you is not going to cut it.

Our favorite moments from SXSW 2015

Phil Bauer:

It was nice seeing such a strong artist turnout for panels involving video strategy and monetization. It’s clear that video (and YouTube) is a powerful engagement tool for artists to build an audience with, and it’ll continue to be a massive part of the conversation for indie musicians in the coming years.  It’s encouraging to see the interest there is starting to line up with the size of the opportunity.

Ben Hubbird:

Our official showcase was obviously the biggest highlight. Getting to hang out with some of my favorite artists, having them meet each-other, etc. I’ll never get tired of putting together a really incredible lineup to showcase the amazing acts that are using CD Baby to get their music out to the world.

Other than our showcase, seeing Diarrhea Planet & JEFF the Brotherhood tear the place apart on the patio at Swan Dive was probably the highlight for me. Infinity Cat has long been one of my favorite labels, and it’s awesome to see them killing it.

Moderating a panel with three of the brightest minds in the music industry (Andrew Jervis from Bandcamp, Benji Rogers from PledgeMusic, and Rachel Cragg from Nettwerk) was also a high point. And the Portland Party, which got rained on but not out, and proudly rocked the Grackle to it’s very foundations despite the downpour.

Tracy Maddux (CD Baby’s CEO):

I really enjoyed Summer Cannibals at the CD Baby Showcase. But I think the highlight of my week was the panel I did on Saturday afternoon (Be Your Own CEO, with  Dmitri Vietze of Rock Paper Scissors,  J. Gibson from Rumblefish,  James Leach from SESAC;  moderated by Jay Frank , CEO and Founder of Digsin). We started the panel by polling the standing room only crowd; about 90% were independent artists, the other 10% were labels and managers. It was a great opportunity to connect with indie artists and get into the nitty gritty of all the revenue streams that artists can now tap into themselves. We discussed publishing, neighboring rights, performing rights and microsync – revenue streams that are now unlocked for DIY artists and songwriters that weren’t necessarily so even a couple of years ago. At the end of the panel, it took me 45 minutes to get out of the convention center and off to the airport to catch my flight – there is a lot of interest in what we do!

Did you attend SXSW this year? What were your favorite moments? Was the trip “worth it?” Let us know in the comments below.

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  • If you want to make a name then you have to take the good wit the bad so you you’re self get the most of it..since 2003 I have worked with so many people and came up and not with money but with knowledge.. because I feel like I might miss something if I take a break from it..10 or so years later music has become my gift and it is how I seperate..I know the better days are still ahead and building into a good artist so I can see some of those other adventures makes me feel like I can get somewhere. mission to get there starts over everyday

  • Johnny Don’t!

    “A lot of doom & gloom in the music business right now…”

    Although Mr. Breuner went on to say he sees a lot of bright spots, I find this comment to be entirely inaccurate. The only “doom & gloom” we hear about are from entities which are a part of the established, dinosaur music industry, including labels; major artists; publishers, etc. This is because their industry has changed drastically, and they’re left trying to figure out how to continue to make ridiculous amounts of money, whereas independent artists are making more money than ever. Granted, most of those indie artists are not gonna be buying Ferraris or Malibu beach houses, but they’re actually supporting themselves via their own music, which is something that wasn’t really possible even ten years ago, at least not on the scale it is today. The recording industry has traditionally been a place of “feast or famine;” nowadays MANY artists are finding a nice middle ground in which to reside.

    Had the recording industry done the smart thing and recognized & accepted the digital/internet/download revolution as the next technological leap in their field as opposed to fighting it every step of the way, there wouldn’t be nearly as much “doom & gloom” these days. It really boggles my mind: when cassettes were introduced, the industry accepted them nearly instantaneously, despite some fearmongering about the new ability for anyone to copy an album & give it to a friend, which wasn’t possible with vinyl. Some industry folks warned that this ability would eat into labels’ profits, and it never happened. When CDs were introduced, the industry jumped on that bandwagon immediately, as it brought the whole copying issue full-circle, as CDs couldn’t be copied unless it was to a cassette tape, which was a downgrading of sonic quality. When CD-Rs were introduced, there was a little concern about the ease & speed with which one could now copy a CD, but DRM & other copy-protection was introduced and the industry wisely did not fight it.

    Then comes Napster and other similar services, and instead of embracing it and figuring out how to monetize it in their favor, the major labels & other members of the recording industry establishment fought it tooth & nail, which only served to harm them severely in the long run. There were smear campaigns about the dangers of downloading from torrent sites and how all the viruses & malware would not only destroy your home computer but steal all of your personal & financial information; there was massive misinformation disseminated regarding the low sonic quality of the compressed file formats (I’m not saying most mp3s don’t sound like shit because they do, but some of what was said by the industry folks back then in 1999/2000 was just ridiculous); and of course, the ever-famous argument about how these services were tantamount to theft.

    So, I don’t feel bad for the industry establishment, not at all: they shot themselves in the foot 16 years ago, and they’re still struggling to recover from it. One would think that they would learn from their mistakes and apply such wisdom to other aspects of their business, but nope: they’re still following a LOT of their old models and releasing a LOT of garbage. I could go into a lot more detail but I’ll save it for when I actually start my own blog. Haha.

    One final example: if IBM behaved like the music industry establishment has, they’d be out of business. Period. When the home computer was introduced to the world in the late 70’s & early 80’s, IBM didn’t start a smear campaign against the computers to preserve their typewriter sales; they saw what was coming down the path and jumped on the wagon and made more money doing so than they EVER could have made selling typewriters. And guess what? Getting on that train opened a TON of other profitable ventures, like artificial intelligence; networking, servers, & enterprise solutions; and now, mobile technology.

    Just sayin’. 🙂