Back to class this week kids, as another SXSW is in the books. The annual music biz spring break seemed to fly by; is it possible there was more happening this year than ever before? It seems the answer is yes, as stats from this SXSW show attendance and money have topped the previous festival years once again in a big way. According to sources, South-by had an 89% jump in confab registrants from last year and over 1,900 showcasing acts, whoa!… Here’s a look back on our time in Austin…
Wednesday (3/17): Forgoing the Tuesday night arrival, we made our way to Austin via Long Beach on the morning of the 17th (speaking of the LBC, who saw Snoop Dogg @ Perez Hilton’s party?). Not the only ones taking the South-Bay to South-By route, we ran into Century Media Prexy Don Robertson, Future Sound’s Larry Little and Bob Bradley from Authentik Artists – all looking surprisingly awake on the tarmac… Back on the ground in Texas we made our way to the Hilton where we ran into the Las Vegas music mafia: LV promoter Brian Saliba, House of Blues-Vegas booker Homie Pooser, Killers manager Robert Reynolds and attorney brother Mac, and members of Imagine Dragons…
Iron Works was on our minds for dinner, but the wait was too much, so after a brief chat with Palm Springs mayor/legal eagle Steve Sessa, it was time to head elsewhere. With full stomachs we were ready for night one, which happened to be St. Patty’s day (we forgot to wear green), and a stop by the ASCAP showcase was first up. Greeted by a bearded-Tom DeSavia, former ASCAP membership head and current Notable Music publisher, who helped get us quickly into the flow. Between sharing rounds with friends including NYC barrister Mike McCoy, Warner Chappell’s Marc Wilson, Ian Friedman, Eric German, Songs publisher Harry Poloner, we caught sets from Kopecky Family Band and Shadow Shadow Shade (formerly The Afternoons).
Meanwhile the Worlds End Management showcase was just down the street, where our satellite crew headed to catch the end of Mini Mansions and just in time for sweaty set from Austin locals Scorpion Child. Then it was over to the KCRW showcase where Roadrunner’s Ron Burman along with Universal Publishing’s Tom Sturgis and Hollywood Records A&R player Jason Jordon joined us to watch Fitz & the Tantrums close out the night to a packed tent. Hats off to Fitz’s managers Brian Klein and Lisa Nupoff, as Fitz was one of the most talked about artists at this year’s festival. Earlier on the same showcase was Choir of Young Believers from Denmark, who were also mentioned by many of impressive.
The Driskill is still the main end-of-the-night haunt for many during SXSW, which was also our last call at the end of the night. Grabbing a table, we caught up with Nanci Walker, manager Deb Klein, Artist Arena’s Mark Weiss, Debra Herman, John Germinario, and A&R crack shot Jon Pikus, among others filtering in and out of the crowded bar. Making it out before the nightly sweep by Austin’s finest, we were ready to call it a night.
Thursday (3/18): The mornings are always the toughest in Austin and while we really meant to make that 11:30am show, it was time better spent getting coffee and bagels at the Hilton coffee shop where we ran into Worlds End player Sandy Roberton. After a few mid-day meetings we dropped by the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips showcase to grab tacos and catch up with Jeff Biederman and Jordan Bromley (where was Gary Gilbert?) before it was time to call up the Dirty Limo for a ride to the up-and-coming trendy artist area of South Congress to catch a set from local artist Jason Poe. The calmer setting was just what we needed.
Back downtown that evening we were treated to a performance by Audra Mae at the Hilton lobby stage, where we met up with manager Andrew Brightman and producer Mark Needham. The SESAC showcase was up next, where we grooved to Las Vegas act One Pin Short and chatted with the PRO’s Trevor Gale, Josh Feingold and Jamie Dominguez. On the walk over to Nic Adler’s Roxy showcase we ran into Atlantic Records Head of A&R Pete Ganbarg, Afrobots frontman Ricardo Riebrios and musician Christian Wilson. Our satellite crew hopped back in the Dirty Limo to ride down to the Dickies Sounds/Filter party for NY’s Cymbals Eat Guitars and The Boxer Rebellion.
A few of us successfully traversed the rough entrance to the BMI showcase at Maggie Mae’s, where we quickly headed to the bar to drink on Casey Robison’s tab and lick our wounds. Neon Trees were finishing up a blaring set before Imagine Dragons took the stage to a room of numerous label and agency reps. Some of us made a quick dash to the Purevolume house for Bad Rabbits, braving the line of hungry festival goers hoping for bean burritos (cheers to Purevolume’s Brett Woitunski on the new location and free Taco Bell, we’re just glad we didn’t have to clean up), while others headed back to the Driskill for drinks with Chrysalis A&R VP Jamie Cerreta and manager Seth Keller. Knowing we actually had to “work” the next day, we wisely called it a night…
Friday (3/19): Having our South-By legs, morning two was much easier to navigate, and on our way to the BMI Brunch on the Four Seasons lawn, we had a couple brief catch-up convos with Epic Records’ A&R hitter/producer Mike Flynn and producer manager Frank McDonough. At the brunch, closet Kiwi lover Jason Reynolds didn’t save us a place in line, so we had to wait for breakfast tacos and fruit compote, yumm. We ran into plenty of others taking advantage of the crisp morning air and gratis grub. Before long it was time to head to the Dirty Dog for the RM 64 day-party.
Our first ever RM 64 Austin event went off without a hitch, due in big part to the hard work from Double Stereo’s Sal Silva and Kaytea McIntosh from XO Publicity. While the bands and the room gathered steam, we enjoyed sets from One Pin Short (OPS), Jonneine Zapata, Gordon Voidwell (who also blew minds at the KCRW show the day before), the always amazing Fitz & the Tantrums, ex-Blood Bros. Jaguar Love and Glasgow’s Twin Atlantic, who rushed over after another packed performance at the Scottish Embassy showcase.
It was nice to see some familiar faces drop by to say hello (or drink for free), like Yeah Mgmt’s Dave “The Rev” Ciancio, Mom & Pop’s Michael Goldstone and Craig Winkler, Uber attorney Peter Lewit, S1 publisher Randy Sabistan, Tom DeSavia, Velvet Hammer manager Graham Martin, Cellar Music’s Bridget O’Gara Bloom, Chris Dye, Jenn Littleton and American Voodoo’s Shiva Baum, among many others. Big thanks to our partners and sponsors Double Stereo, XO Publicity, Propellerhead, SESAC, Red Bull, Brightman Music and Buzzbands.
Post party, we were exchanging e-mails with GroundCtrl’s Eddie Meehan to figure out the show schedule for tonight, but feeling more than a little wrecked after our party, we regrouped back at the hotel before a dinner hang at PF Changs with Red Bull/Grace Marketing’s Greg Hammer, RCA Records’ David Wolter, manager Darren Gilmore, manager Andrew Brightman and local RM 64 rep/foodie Shane Wells.
Walking back down 6th at a snails pace (they claim there’s no MSG), we knew it would take all the energy we could muster to finish out our last night at the confab. First stop was Japan Nite, where we made some new friends (see pic) and downed a few drinks before making our way to the Crush Management showcase. There we joined a packed room to see the new project from Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and the much talked-about Foxy Shazam. More drinks were had with producer manager Bennett Kaufman, producer Joey Moi and a cast of drunken industry peeps.
Saturday (3/20): Waking up to freezing winds made the thought of returning home on Saturday much easier to handle. As we completed our morning meetings, we hung with Yahoo! Music’s John Lenac, manager Michelle Abreim and the Agency Group’s Dave Shapiro, as we waited for our cab to the airport to head home to LA LA land.
Meanwhile, here are some additional seen and heard tidbits @ SXSW ’10: Just as Local Natives and Fleet Foxes were the conference buzz bands in years past, this year, industry folks were talking about The Middle East, who’ve reportedly sold more than 15K copies of their indie-released EP in Australia. Also causing a stir with the international labels was Active Child, who has a sizable offer from a premier UK-based label… Publishers were hot on newly signed indie-label acts The Lonely Forest and Sleigh Bells. Former Columbia artist Nicole Atkins again has labels vying for her attention, while Fitz & the Tantrums is getting calls from majors on both coasts… Other festival favorites pointed out by trusted eyes and ears include Chew Lips, Saint Motel, Bang Bang Eche, Holly Miranda and Matthew Mayfield. We’ll see you next year. Next up, Coachella…
IN THE MIX: Chrysalis Music Group-S1 Publishing, The Rogers Sisters, Richard Parsons-EMI-WMG…