sxsw music

SXSW at a glance

The music side of things at SXSW sometimes receives a bad rep. Sure, there’s more free Tito’s and Taco Bell afoot than is decent, but there’s some seriously awesome knowledge being thrown around the Austin Convention Center between 11am-6pm. Between working for On Pitch as a marketing guru since 2011 and staring my own farm festival this year, SXSW proved an amazing space for me to alter my conceptions about branding, social media marketing and the music industry itself. Below I’ve transcribed some of my SXSW panel experiences, highlighting key points from industry experts who have insight into what we’re doing right and what we need to work on as the industry continues to grow.

The NYTimes ran an article back in February citing the first increase in global sales for the music industry since 1999, and that energy was alive this year at SXSW. Between the new reign of Spotify and the rise of digital sales all around, the music industry is in good shape for the foreseeable future.

Here’s why:

1) The Buyer and the Beat: Music Fans Could Spend Up to $2.6B Annually (if we pave the way and create content they want)

Nielsen, a leader in consumer-spending studies globally, sparked a great discussion in their panel “The Buyer and The Beat: The Music Fan and How to Reach Them” about how to get music fans to spend more money and what kind of content consumers are craving.

Key points:

  • For music, digital consumption is at an all-time high. In 2012, 1.3 billion digital tracks were sold, 37 billion music streams occurred and 161 million radio tracks were spun (the format that still exists as the #1 tool for music discovery for Americans).
  • The main spending comes from three kinds of fans: 1) The Aficionado Fan – likes indie, buys music in the form of concert tickets, artist merchandise and online streaming services, spends about $400 a year on music. 2) The Digital Fan – searches for trends, active on social networks, likely to listen through Youtube, spends about $300 a year on music. 3) The Big Box Fan – emotionally connected with music, especially pop and country, likely to buy in-store or via Walmart, largely influenced by deals and sale prices, spends about $200 a year on music.
  • Fans want content, and fans are different than consumers. Consumers maybe listen to Pandora once in awhile or check out the occasional concert, but fans want to become a part of the artists’ creative process and want a personal relationship with the product they’re buying.
  • Crowd-funding projects like PledgeMusic work because fans want exclusive content. It’s the basic principle of “give something, get something.”
  • Ideas for your artist or brand: signed CDs, signed vinyl, pre-order/exclusive access to album, liner notes, videos from inside the recording studio, streaming concerts online more frequently… the potential for further engagement is limitless.

2) Spotify: The streaming service that launched in 2006 is finally gaining the mainstream attention it deserves. Spotify is making it easy to legally consume media.

Spotify CEO & Founder Daniel Ek and Forbes Associate Editor Steven Bertoni talking about the future of music at SXSW 2013.

Spotify figured it out. Daniel Ek, founder and CEO, has dedicated the past six years to giving consumers a cheap, easy way to consume content, providing a convenient, important alternative to music piracy. In the panel, “Forbes 30 Under 30: Meet Spotify’s Daniel Ek,” we heard the ins and outs of Spotify from the man himself. Oh and also, if you haven’t yet, try the month of free premium. You’ll never turn back.

Key points:

  • We live in an age where the value of true artistry is being challenged. Ek feels as though true creative genius can still shine through in an age where everyone (your next-door neighbor, your little brother, your boss) can be a DJ or a photographer. Technology is only making creativity more accessible to the Average Joe, but that isn’t a bad thing. It helps true creativity shine.
  • Spotify’s chief objectives are notable and noble: 1) They strive to get everyone on the face of the planet more music. 2) They want to create a stronger music eco-system where artists can make a decent living.
  • Most music consumers and people aren’t inherently stealthy. Not many fans go out and think “Oh man, I’d love to steal stuff off the internet today.” Often times torrenting or downloading an illegal zip is faster and more accessible than logging into something like iTunes or Amazon, so consumers take the shortcut and resort to piracy because it’s simpler. Spotify offers a legal counter to that problem by offering free on-demand streaming.
  • 1/2 billion people are listening to music online, 6 million people are paying to use Spotify, 30-35 million people are iTunes users.
  • The goal of Spotify shouldn’t be to convert all 25 million Spotify users to paid members. The goal should be to convert 1.5 billion using piracy services to listen legally.
  • Ek also shared some pretty cool stories about being handed a guitar at age 4 and a computer at age 5. The rest is history.

3) Girls & Tech: As technology is becoming more and more accessible to a younger demographic, a new generation of taste-makers and marketers are cropping up organically.

Think about the young girls in your life. They are on Twitter, they are on Tumblr, they are on Instagram. These girls love music with an intense passion. They push out content about these passions on their social media platforms, which are all at their fingertips. The panel, “Girls and Tech: Why Young Women Rule in Music,” explained a little more about this phenomena and what it means for the industry.

Key points:

  • As brand experts, marketers and the like, we need to start taking young girls more seriously because they have market-influence on primary social media platforms.
  • Girls themselves are becoming excellent content creators. They are marketing inherently with their passion and constant output of content. They’re not even trying, but they’re doing an awesome job.
  • How can you use this demographic to your advantage while still holding them to a high regard? Give them exclusive access to an event. Let them take photos and make gifs. Do a Twitter contest and let them in the photo pit for the first three songs. For the right artist, it could be amazing.
  • Community managers must use an authentic, passionate voice to connect with this specific audience. Find out where these girls are and how they relate to your brand, but don’t fake it. Be authentic and passionate, and rise to meet them on their level.

4) Music Festivals: There’s a new eco-system of music festivals in America, which provides a great revenue potential for the industry (if we attune ourselves to the demands our markets and cultivate a unique brand experience).

What makes your event special? Are you charting your sales effectively? Do you know how your attendees are herding and moving in and out during your event? At “Music Festivals: The Real Deal from the Experts,” some insight was given into these pertinent questions.

Key points:

  • RFID technology can be extremely useful and could be worth way more than the money you’ll save on barcodes with its potential for data. It’s essentially just a chip in the wristband (you’ve seen them at Bonnaroo, Coachella and other major festivals), but there’s a wide variety of benefits. 1) They’re hard to rip off or duplicate. 2) As a festival organizer, you can add information onto the chip, so you know exactly where the wristband has been and how it may have fallen into someone’s hands or why difficulties may be arising with a particular band. 3) You can attain data, which applies to staffing, security and police (among other areas), which is another place to find cost savings. Too expensive? Have a sponsor underwrite that specific line item and enjoy the benefits of increased data.
  • Marketing for festival starts with a brand, idea, feel. The schedule comes next. Then announcements, news items and general hype-building.
  • Fan experience and safety should always be the number one priority of a festival organizer. Bottom line.
  • Work toward attaining partnerships with businesses and people who will personally invest in your project. Don’t settle for traditional marketing strategies. Let people spread the word rather than lifeless newsprint pages (which seems to be true, at least for some festival demographics).
  • Make attainable goals and set milestones for yourself to make sure you’re on track. Keep organized in something like Google Drive and keep track of all your media releases and blasts so you can coordinate with sales later.
  • Stay true to yourself. If you’re a small festival with huge success, don’t jump the gun and up your capacity by 10,000. Fans probably like the experience they had for a reason, and you don’t need to be huge to make more money. Up your ticket prices instead, up the quality of your experience. An example given: Prada. Prada built a brand of exclusivity and their products are worth a lot because not every bag or product is mass-produced. Ponder the idea of a boutique festival with that mentality and go from there. If that’s not your thing, figure out what exactly is.
  • Festivals are more than just bands on a stage. It’s about the experience you’re creating. Create something worthwhile.

Zoey Miller has been working for On Pitch since the summer of 2011. Active in the Iowa music scene, Zoey acts as Director of Marketing for SCOPE Productions, the University of Iowa’s independent concert promotion and production organization, and has been a marketing volunteer for 80/35 for the past two years.

Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!

Landing A Music Panel at South by Southwest

Last week I moderated a panel called Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country at the SXSW Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas. Jill and I submitted the idea for the panel last June, and after months of planning and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the big day, we were excited to finally come together with our rock star lineup of speakers to conduct the panel.

We’re happy to report that the panel was a huge success. Attendance was great, with about 70 people joining us for the discussion. According to the poll we took during the panel, our audience was about 50/50 musicians and music professionals.

We’d like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the panel, including our panelists: Sean Moeller, Scott Booker, Shawn Crahan, and Amedeo Rossi, who provided invaluable advice and insight on the topic of how to launch a music career in any region.

From Sean Moeller’s desire to record and write about music on his own terms, which has ultimately led to a revolutionization of online music through Daytrotter, to Slipknot founding member Shawn Crahan’s innate need to unleash his creativity since he was a young child, there were a few consistent themes throughout the panel. All of our panelists exuded innovation, fearlessness and motivation – they have truly carved their own paths while creating their own unique and successful music careers right here in the Midwest.

All of the panelists also have a higher purpose and vision of creating a better tomorrow for the music industry. From Amedeo Rossi’s vision to foster a cultural landscape that encourages up-and-coming artists to stick around in Iowa through the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, to Scott Booker’s innovative career path leading him to cultivate and educate future generations about every aspect of the music industry at ACM@UCO in Oklahoma City, the speakers have not only impacted the music scene and industry in their communities, but they’ve influenced movements that will ultimately impact the music industry as a whole.

Their stories and advice were inspiring, uncut and raw – the kind of stuff that SXSW is made of.

Listen to a podcast of  “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” here.

Check more photos from the panel on our Facebook Page and some recent press coverage below.

Silicon Prairie News PrairieCast
Radio Iowa
Iowa State Daily

Meet the speakers participating in our SXSW panel

Tomorrow we host Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas. We are honored to feature such an accomplished group of professionals with successful music careers in “flyover country.”

From a Grammy-award winning musician that maintains his home base in Des Moines, an entrepreneur that carved his own path opening a music venue and launching a major summer music festival, a record store clerk turned manager for major recording artists that cultivates his music community, and a blogger whose website not only revolutionized his city, but the entire indie music scene.

Please take a moment to get to know the Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country speakers.

Scott Booker

Scott Booker started as a clerk at Sound Warehouse in Midwest City, Oklahoma. After enrolling at the University of Central Oklahoma, Scott simultaneously managed Rainbow Records. After Scott met The Flaming Lips in 1990 he quickly became – and still is – their manager. In 2001 Scott formed Hellfire Enterprises with his wife Jennifer, helping get the word out about bands like Sigur Ros, Devendra Banhart and El-P. Currently CEO at the Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO, Scott’s focus is helping cultivate and educate future generations about every aspect of the music industry.

Find Scott on Twitter: @scottdbooker

Sean Moeller

Before revolutionizing online music, Iowa-native Sean Moeller was working full time as a sports and entertainment writer for the Quad-City Times and freelancing for various music magazines across the country. While out on a run one morning, Sean came up with the idea of having touring bands drop by a studio in Rock Island, Illinois, and play an impromptu set on borrowed instruments. Now considered one of the most popular indie music blogs on the internet, Daytrotter allows for free music discovery and is home to a host of creative music, writing, and artwork.

Find Sean on Twitter:

Shawn Crahan

Shawn “Clown” Crahan is one of the founding members of Des Moines-based metal icons Slipknot. His resume includes seven Grammy nominations and one win, 14 million albums sold world-wide, and tours spanning the globe. Shawn also performs with Dirty Little Rabbits and is currently preparing for the release of the debut album from his latest Group The Black Dots of Death. He continues to maintain his roots in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.

Follow Shawn on Twitter: @MShawnCrahan

Amedeo Rossi

Iowa native Amedeo Rossi’s goal is to foster a cultural landscape that encourages up-and-coming artists to stick around. After years of corporate human resources, Rossi shifted his focus to Des Moines’ budding arts and entertainment scene and collaborated to open indie music venue Vaudeville Mews in 2004. Rossi helped found the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition and has led the development of the annual 80/35 Music Festival.

Follow Amedeo on Twitter: @amedeo10

Panel Details
Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country
Thursday, March 17
Room 11AB

If you can’t attend, watch for updates on Twitter: @OnPitch.

Photo Credits: Scott Booker via ACM@UCO. Shawn Crahan via Brian Leli.

Announcing our SXSW Music 2011 rock star panel lineup

When we found out that our panel idea “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” was accepted into the 2011 SXSW Music programming back in October, we knew we had to assemble a panel of rock stars to share their experiences, thoughts, and advice on the topic. Needless to say, we already had a wish list of industry professionals with success stories that we thought would be a perfect fit.

We’re excited and honored to announce the four confirmed speakers for our upcoming panel, “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” to be held at SXSW Music on Thursday, March 17 at 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM in Room 11AB, Austin Convention Center. And the panelists are…

Sean Moeller, Owner

Scott Booker, Manager
Hellfire Entprises Ltd (The Flaming Lips, Devendra Banhart, El-P) – Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO

Shawn Crahan, Musician
SlipknotDirty Little RabbitsThe Black Dots of Death

Amedeo Rossi, Promoter and Venue Owner
Greater Des Moines Music Coalition80/35Vaudeville Mews

Stay tuned for our very own panelist spotlights leading up to SXSW Music in March. Thanks to Nina and Andy at SXSW for your help in confirming this talented group of panelists. We look forward to seeing everyone 43 days from now in Austin!

We Recognize Her! Hillary Featured on

Our very own Hillary Brown was featured on the SXSW website yesterday in the Music Panelist Spotlight. Read to find out what our “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” panel will cover, as well as Hillary’s advice for SXSW newbs, favorite SXSW memories, and top 5 albums.

The panel planning is coming along great! We have some rockstar panelists lined up (literally). We can’t wait to announce!

SXSW Music, here we come!

The wait is over… we can finally share the BIG news! We are excited to announce that our panel “Landing A Music Career In Flyover Country” made the final cut and will be part of the 2011 SXSW Music Conference programming. Check out the announcement on and on Sophia Ahmad’s Des Moines Register entertainment blog for the full scoop. Our panel is one of 47 panels that will be presented at the 2011 SXSW Music Conference. All SXSW Music panels will be presented March 16 – 19, 2011 at the Austin Convention Center.

So what happens now? We are currently coordinating with SXSW organizers to assemble the rest of the panel, which involves planning the panel and locking down up to 4 additional speakers – we’ve got some great Midwest music industry superstars and success stories in mind! We’ll keep you updated on our progress as our panel comes together over the coming months. We look forward to representing Des Moines at SXSW 2011 in Austin this March and hope to spread the word that you can launch a successful music career in “flyover country,” including the GREAT city of Des Moines!

We were also excited to see that another music panel we were rooting for made the cut. If you’re headed down to SXSW Music this March, be sure to check out a panel called “Marketing Your Music in an Overloaded World“, moderated by Carmen Rizzo (@carmenrizzo) – pictured next to me on the newsletter and site today.

Our picks for the SXSW Music PanelPicker

This is the final week to give your input on what panels should be part of the 2011 SXSW. Since many attendees are DIY musicians and independent industry professionals, we’d like to see panels focused on this up-and-coming audience. Here are some of the panels we voted for and hope make the cut. Check them out and vote if you want to see them at SXSW.

But, first a plug for our panel!
Landing A Music Career In Flyover Country – Vote and Comment
Description: While many artists and music professionals continue to flock to large, entertainment-saturated cities like L.A., New York, and Nashville to chase their dreams of launching a successful music career, some are seizing opportunities right in their own backyards. Do you need to move to one of the major music meccas to be successful? The coast is full, so why not launch your career in the music industry right where you are? The advantages and disadvantages are different for everyone. In today’s music industry, it is possible to land a thriving music career in flyover country if you’re willing to carve your own path. This panel will explore defining your goals to determine the best home base for your career, finding and utilizing resources in a small to mid-size city, techniques to expand your reach, and how to leverage opportunities in any region.

Sell your Music for Free and Make Money – Taylor Davidson @tdavidson Vote for it!
Description: Under the deluge of competition from amateurs and professionals alike, compounded by the increased democratization of the tools to create, how can you build a new business model based on the value of communities, conversations and ancillary products? Using examples from the music, film, photography and technology industries, we’ll dive into the economics of content and context and help musicians and marketers create strategies for succeeding in the crowded marketplace.

What We Think: The music business model has shifted. If your only revenue stream is selling music, it’s time to broaden your outlook. There are many opportunities for musicians to succeed in this new structure. This is an important and timely topic that everyone in the industry is trying to figure out.

Marketing Your Music in an Overloaded World – Carmen Rizzo @carmenrizzo Vote for it!
Description: We’re overloaded with new–and established–services that claim to help get the word out and sell music. With so many options available, how do you choose the best marketing tools for you and your music? You can’t do it all. What’s really the best use of your time and energy? This panel will describe how several different social networking/marketing/online services work and what each one is best for, as well as strategies for maximizing the use of the services. Panelists from MXP4 (interactive widget) Sound Cloud, TuneCore, Top Spin, Reverb Nation, Facebook, etc. will explain and advise on what exists now and what’s coming in the future.

What We Think: It’s true, we are overloaded! There are so many new websites and tools popping up everyday for musicians to market their music. Everyone wants you to create a profile and use their new resource. It’s essential to evaluate the tools available to you to determine which are the best fit and how to effectively manage your time keeping those tools updated and relevant.

Super Fans as a Marketing Force Amplifier – Spencer Richardson @FanBridge Vote for it!
Description: You’ve got a free, engaged, and mobile workforce at your finger tips, so what are you waiting for? This panel will remind musician’s that affinity is a greater motivator than money, and provide several examples of how artists can be empowering their Super Fans to help generate more revenue and source new fans.

What We Think: The power of the super fan is undeniable. We often see bands under utilizing this group. In terms of making sure you have products to sell them (they want to buy more than just a CD and t-shirt) and harnessing their desire to spread the word that your band is amazing. You can provide your super fans the tools to properly market your music while making sure they aren’t crossing the spammer/annoying fan line.

Why Your Tour Needs House Concerts – Paul Schreiber @paulschreiber Vote for it!
Description: Find out why house concerts make sense for your next tour. Learn how to successfully approach established house concert series, book and promote shows. Discover the key differences between a house concert and a club gig. We’ll show you what it takes to make each house concert a memorable experience.

What We Think: We’ve been hearing more about house concerts lately and have seen them popping up in Des Moines. It’s a great opportunity to really connect with your fans, as well as providing another revenue stream.

Some of our Iowa friends submitted panels for SXSW Interactive. Vote for them too! (Thanks to Nathan with Lava Row for compiling the list!)
Social Marketing Lessons Learned on the Farm – Nathan Wright, Lava Row
How Farmers Get Serious Business Done With Mobile
– Jeff Caldwell, Meredith Corporation
Real-Time Streams Need Real-Time Feedback
– Daniel Shipton, BitMethod
How Can Artists Turn Web Hits Into Dollars?
– Cat Rocketship & Scott (Kubie) Rocketship, makebreak
The Legalities Behind APIs and Mashups
– Brett Trout, Brett J. Trout, P.C.
Screenwriting from Iowa (and Other Unlikely Places)
– Scott Smith, River Run Productions
In the Future, Everyone Will Be a Filmmaker
– Scott Smith, River Run Productions
Rich Browser-Based Templating Through Open Source Collaboration
– Neil Roberts, BitMethod
Content for Multi-Channel Consumers: Earn Affinity, Reap Rewards
– Heather Rast, Insights and Ingenuity
Resistance is Futile! Assimilating Local Marketing
– Deb Brown, Debworks

Vote for On Pitch's panel idea for SXSW Music 2011

Jill and I were excited to attend SXSW Music last March for the first time, while at the same time launching our new music, entertainment and lifestyle company, On Pitch. We made a special effort to attend as many music panels each day as we could possibly squeeze in, hoping to absorb a ton of music marketing knowledge like sponges. While the majority of the panels we attended at the 2010 SXSW Music Conference were both enlightening and interesting, we knew exactly what was missing from the lineup – a good ol’ taste of how we do it on the “no coast.”

This year, we’ve submitted a SXSW Music panel idea called “Landing A Music Career In Flyover Country” and need your help getting it through. The SXSW PanelPicker is an online system that allows the community to have a significant voice (30%) in programming Interactive, Film, and Music conference activities for SXSWeek 2011 (March 11-20). You can read a full description of our panel idea and vote here.

If our panel idea makes the final cut, it will be added to the programming at the 2011 SXSW Music Conference, and On Pitch will get to work with SXSW to plan the panel and select the panelists. Not to mention, we get to represent the great city of DES MOINES at the 2011 SXSW Music Conference. All you have to do is VOTE! Voting begins on August 11, 2010 at noon and ends on August 27, 2010 at 11:59pm.


1. To get started, create a FREE PanelPicker account.

2. After that, go to our panel idea, “Landing A Music Career In Flyover Country”

3. Please give our proposal a “thumbs up” if you like it, and feel free to leave a comment telling the world why you think our panel should get through, or if you know us personally, you can just vouch for how awesome we are.

Help us spread the word by inviting your friends to vote for our panel idea on Facebook. Thanks for your support!

YouTube's Musicians Wanted program opens Partner Program to Indie artists

Indie artists, YouTube now offers a new way for you to promote your music online, while earning money through revenue sharing. YouTube’s Musicians Wanted program is an ad-revenue sharing program through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). The model is simple – YouTube places relevant ads next to or on your music video, and then shares the revenue for that ad, 50-50 with the artists. You can also earn revenue from your music videos by making them available for rental via streaming.

YouTube’s Musicians Wanted program launched in March at SXSW. Prior to its launch, YouTube only allowed certain musicians who were signed with major record labels to reap the Partner Program’s many benefits. If you own the global rights to your music and want a piece of this action, all you have to do is apply. YouTube won’t accept static images paired with a song, so you must submit real videos that meet YouTube’s quality standards to be included in the program. To become a YouTube partner, you must meet these minimum requirements:

  • You create original videos suitable for online streaming.
  • You own or have express permission to use and monetize all audio and video content that you upload—no exceptions.
  • You regularly upload videos that are viewed by thousands of YouTube users, or you publish popular or commercially successful videos in other ways (such as DVDs sold online).

After your partner application is approved, you can start to make money off of your musical (and video) talents, and you get access to enhanced features for your channel, such as adding tour dates and “buy” links for music and merchandise and more control over the design of your channel.

OK Go was the first band to apply to the Musicians Wanted program, shortly after leaving major label EMI/Capitol. If any band knows the potential of a music video to launch them to fame, it’s OK Go, whose “Here It Goes Again” breakthrough treadmill video earned them 50 million views. One of the reasons OK Go reportedly left their label in March was because EMI/Capital wouldn’t allow their new music videos to be embedded on blogs. Watch a video of OK Go’s Tim and Damian meeting with the heads of their new label to discuss their options.

Another band, Pomplamoose, was one of the first bands to be invited into YouTube’s Musicians Wanted program. According to the band, they haven’t made any hard copies of their albums or printed any CDs, yet they make their living on sales – selling about 100,000 songs in 2009.

Here are Jack & Nataly of Pomplamoose pitching YouTube’s Musicians Wanted.

New music business models like that of YouTube’s Musicians Wanted program allow bands to prosper and survive without the help of a major label. While not everyone who signs up for the program will be able to quit their day job, they will have equal opportunity to showcase their talent and engage fans while making money and a new way to promote their music – a win-win for most.

What do you think about YouTube’s Musician’s Wanted program? How do you think other music communities like MySpace could embrace this new business model and help bands monetize their music? Leave us a comment below!

South by Express: Another night of great music in Austin

SXXpress (South by Express) is a new feature for the SXSW Film and Music festivals this year that allows badge-holders to to bypass the lines at theaters and music venues and go to the front of the line – quite possibly the greatest idea ever.  Music badges are allotted one pass per day to a venue (not show specific) and Platinum Badges are allotted two passes per day. Yesterday, Jill and I sacrificed sleep for the better cause and went to the SXXpress station bright and early to get passes for Mohawk Patio because we wanted to make sure we could get in to see Holy F*ck and The XX. Here are some video highlights from our awesome night thanks to our SXXpress passes: