Today I got to pick up my Music Badge for SXSW! During the course of the day I listened to international product pitches, went into an audio interactive art piece, sat on the dock of the Colorado River, went to an amazing panel, saw a great documentary series premiere, and went into the coolest music shop (which I will not disclose how much I spent at. I highly recommend it, with the caveat that your bank account may suffer).
The international pitches I attended consisted of all European countries, ranging from France to Spain, Virtual Reality to cooking, and everything inbetween. A few new startups in particular stood out to me either because of their technological advancements or just because they were cool. A French company called 4D Views attempted to integrate live action actors into virtual reality. By filming actors with a VR setup, they could integrate those actors into the virtual reality itself using software like Maya, so a professional BMX person could actually teach someone BMX tricks “in person” so to speak. Another company from Belgium called PlayPass created a system that integrates traditional festival wristbands with NFC technology. The idea of this is to integrate the ticketing, merch buying, food, beer, and everything else you’d experience at a concert into one cohesive wristband. The idea is that it will help control crowds and make the concert experience better for the attendee and better for the crew involved. Much like DisneyWorld is integrating wristband technology for their guests to have hotel access, park access, fastpasses, and even restaurant reservations or payment, this NFC wristband aims to do the same, but with the festival experience. Since the NFC technology would be loaded with the individual user’s information, this could significantly cut down on illegal ticket scalping, and well as providing user data for the artists and companies. The other pitch from Belgium that I thought was just downright fun sounding was a sort of hybrid between ridesharing and take out. The company, Flavr, created an app that will pair home chefs with hungry citizens. A user can input what they have in their fridge, or just order food from the home chef, at which point the user will directly pay the home chef for their services and either pick up or have the food dropped off. This intriguing idea certainly comes with some issues such as liability, licenses for restaurant services, ensuring food safety is considered, and other logistics, however the idea of food sharing though the user of home chefs certainly sounds intriguing. As an aspiring home chef myself, this idea really popped out to me.
My big music business take away for the day was a panel I attended on Livestreaming, featuring the service YouNow. While my industry colleges might be familiar with Periscope, YouNow is another service that creates a more user friendly experience, mostly attributed to the fact that it’s newer and has learned from its predecessors mistakes. Though I won’t get into the whole details of the panel, because I could probably write a whole paper on how livestreaming could be integrated into education and monetization of music, I will go over the highlights. The most import part is one of the panelists, Zach Clayton, was 15. 15! He is an influencer on YouNow (influencer is the new term I learned that encompasses the YouTubers, the vloggers, etc. that influence other people through their videos and monetizer or inspire based on the content they create) and has over 700,000 likes/followers. This in itself was inspiring and a kick in the pants to get a move on! I’d love to share a lemonade with this guy. Aside from Zach’s amazing success in livestreaming, the technology of YouNow itself allows a completely interactive experience. YouNow is NOT the sort of product to entertain you immediately. Rather, it’s more of a hangout session. You can tip the person, ask them requests for a fee, or a plethora of other types of interactions like GIFS, Emoji’s, etc. for small dollar amounts. During the panel we asked a livestreaming artist to send out a birthday wish to one of the attendees, and she immediately incorporated that into her set. This type of immediate connection with artists is something that could really be monetized. People want to interact and get to know their favorite artists, and this technology puts the humanity and human error back into the artist–allowing people to truly connect with them as people. Another example of the monetization aspect is through live music performances, Pentatonix recently did a live stream where they said if 100 people bought their album (through a link they provided on the site) they would perform an encore song–they got to several encores and hundreds of albums sold. Actual album sales in a matter of hours. Again, I could go on and on about the possibilities with the technology when implemented with the right brand, however, I think from these few examples, it’s possible to see the–well the endless possibilities not only in music but through all creative industries.
The second part of my journey appealed more towards the recording arts side in me. I went to an interactive art piece by Simon Heijdens called the “Silent Room.” In short, this was an anechoic chamber. If you’re at all into audio, you’re probably super excited by the notion of stepping into one, if not, feel free to skim. An anechoic chamber is a room or box of sorts that acoustically engineered (in this case with the help of the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Acoustic Engineering) to eliminate all sound from inside the box, producing negative decibel levels. Since this art installment could not be completely lifted from the sidewalk and was travel size, I did hear some of the sirens from outside as they passed by, and perhaps a low frequency? Though for the low frequency it was hard to tell whether I felt street vibrations or whether I was hearing what was inside my head? Either way, overall it was really really quiet–and a super cool experience as an audio student. Since I only got one minute to take it all in and analyze it, I’d really love to go into a chamber again and experience the silence more.
A wrap up for the night was my first premiere of really anything. I attended a documentary called Soundbreaking–Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music. Though we only saw 2 episodes (it’s a total of 8 hours so…) it was a fantastic two hours. This documentary series is set to air on PBS in November–hopefully November 14th. The two episodes I saw went over the producer’s role and painting a picture with sound. The project worked a lot with the late Beatles producer Sir George Martin, and he was featured a lot in the documentary. This premise is really cool because it’s an entire documentary series focused on the producers and engineers rather than the artists or business. I think this would be a great resource to use back at CAM in the recording arts program! Additionally, the producers, an editor, and music supervisor were present at the premiere, which was a fun experience. All in all, today was a great day, and I had a lot of fun.