My favorite music-related panels for SXSW Interactive

Spring break for geeks is nearly upon us. If you are going to SXSW interactive, and are interested in what is is going on at the intersection of music and technology, be sure to check out these panels.

  • Love, Music & APIs –  Dave Haynes (SoundCloud) /Matt Ogle (The Echo Nest) – In the old days it was DJs, A&R folks, labels and record store owners that were the gatekeepers to music. Today, we are seeing a new music gatekeeper emerge… the developer. Using open APIs, developers are creating new apps that change how people explore, discover, create and interact with music. But developers can’t do it alone. They need data like gig listings, lyrics, recommendation tools and, of course, music! And they need it from reliable, structured and legitimate sources. In this presentation we’ll discuss and explore what is happening right now in the thriving music developer ecosystem. We’ll describe some of the novel APIs that are making this happen and what sort of building blocks are being put into place from a variety of different sources. We’ll demonstrate how companies within this ecosystem are working closely together in a spirit of co-operation. Each providing their own pieces to an expanding pool of resources from which developers can play, develop and create new music apps across different mediums – web, mobile, software and hardware. We’ll highlight some of the next-generation of music apps that are being created in this thriving ecosystem. Finally we’ll take a look at how music developers are coming together at events like Music Hack Day, where participants have just 24 hours to build the next generation of music apps. Someone once said, “APIs are the sex organs of software. Data is the DNA.” If this is true, then Music Hack Days are orgies.
  • Finding Music With Pictures: Data Visualization for Discovery –  Paul Lamere (shamelessly self promoting) – The Echo Nest – With so much music available, finding new music that you like can be like finding a needle in a haystack. We need new tools to help us to explore the world of music, tools that can help us separate the wheat from the chaff. In this panel we will look at how visualizations can be used to help people explore the music space and discover new, interesting music that they will like. We will look at a wide range of visualizations, from hand drawn artist maps, to highly interactive, immersive 3D environments. We’ll explore a number of different visualization techniques including graphs, trees, maps, timelines and flow diagrams and we’ll examine different types of music data that can contribute to a visualization. Using numerous examples drawn from commercial and research systems we’ll show how visualizations are being used now to enhance music discovery and we’ll demonstrate some new visualization techniques coming out of the labs that we’ll find in tomorrow’s music discovery applications.
  • Connected Devices, the Cloud & the Future of Music – Brenna Ehrlich, Malthe Sigurdsson, Steve Savoca, Travis Bogard – Discovering and listening to music today is a fragmented experience. Most consumers discover in one place, purchase in another, and listen somewhere else. While iTunes remains the dominant way people buy and organize their digital music collections, on-demand music services like Rdio, MOG and Spotify are creating new ways to discover, play, organize, and share music. The wide-spread adoption of smartphones and connected devices, along with the growing ubiquity of wireless networks, has increased the promise of music-in-the-cloud, but are consumers ready to give up their iTunes and owning their music outright? While, early adopters and music enthusiasts are latching on, what will it take for the mainstream to shift their thinking? This session will explore how connected devices and cloud services will affect the way consumers find and buy music going forward.
  • Expressing yourself Musically with Mobile Technology Ge Wang – Smule – The mobile landscape as we know it is focused heavily on gaming, productivity and social media applications. But as mobile technology continues to advance and phones become smarter, people will search for even more intimate, immersive and interactive ways of expressing themselves. Today, mobile technologies have made music creation easy, affordable and accessible to the masses, enabling users of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, to create and share music, regardless of previous musical knowledge. Whether you’re a fan of hip hop, classic, pop or video game theme music, there is an app for everyone. And the entertainment industry has taken notice – almost every big name artist or brand has an app for mobile devices. Most of them are just fancy message boards providing information, but some are pushing the limits of what it means to interact with the artist or brand. From the palm of your hand you can Auto-Tune your voice to sound like your favorite hip hop star, play an instrument designed by Jorden Ruddess of Dream Theater or join a virtual Glee club. Each of these artists and brands are building communities thru mobile apps that provide anyone the ability to explore their inner star. This presentation will discuss how advances in mobile technology have opened up a new world of expression to everyone and enabled users to broadcast their own musical talents across the globe.
  • How Digital Media Drives International Collaboration in Music – Farb Nivi, Gunnar Madsen, Russell Raines, Stephen Averill, Troy Campbell – The House of Songs is an Austin, TX based project focusing on musical creativity through international collaboration. The House has been operating since September 2009 and has provided the foundation for creative collaboration between some of the strongest Austin and Scandinavian songwriters. Through these experiences, the participating songwriters have created numerous potential relationships and have attained unique experiences benefiting their musical careers. This panel will discuss how digital media influences these collaboration efforts in the present and in the future. The conversation will also cover current trends in this area, challenges artists face in developing and expanding their audience, how artists today can succeed in procuring worldwide digital revenue, and ultimately emphasize the need of having this conversation.
  • Metadata: The Backbone Of Digital Music Commerce – Bill Wilson, Christopher Read, Fayvor Love, Kiran Bellubb – Who cares about metadata? You should. In a world where millions of digital music transactions take place on a daily basis, it’s more important than ever that music, video, and application content appears correctly in digital storefronts, customers can find them, and that the right songwriter, artist and/or content owner gets paid. This panel will review the current landscape and make sense of the various identifiers such as ISRC, ISWC, GRID, ISNI as well as XML communications standards such as DDEX ERN and DSR messages. We’ll also cover why these common systems are critical as the backbone of digital music commerce from the smallest indie artist to the biggest corporate commerce partners.
  • Music & Metadata: Do Songs Remain The Same? – Jason Schultz, Jess Hemerly, Larisa Mann – Metadata may be an afterthought when it comes to most people’s digital music collections, but when it comes to finding, buying, selling, rating, sharing, or describing music, little matters more. Metadata defines how we interact and talk about music—from discreet bits like titles, styles, artists, genres to its broader context and history. Metadata builds communities and industries, from the local fan base to the online social network. Its value is immense. But who owns it? Some sources are open, peer-produced and free. Others are proprietary and come with a hefty fee. And who determines its accuracy? From CDDB to MusicBrainz and Music Genome Project to AllMusic, our panel will explore the importance of metadata and information about music from three angles. First, production, where we’ll talk about the quality and accuracy of peer-produced sources for metatdata and music information, like MusicBrainz and Wikipedia, versus proprietary sources, like CDDB. Second, we’ll look at the social importance of music data, like how we use it to discuss music and how we tag it to enhance music description and discovery. Finally, we’ll look at some legal issues, specifically how patent, copyright, and click-through agreements affect portability and ownership of data and how metadata plays into or out of the battles over “walled garden” systems like Facebook and Apple’s iEmpire. We’ll also play a meta-game with metadata during the panel to demonstrate how it works and why it is important.
  • Neither Moguls nor Pirates: Grey Area Music Distribution – Alex Seago, Heitor Alvelos, Jeff Ferrell, Pat Aufderheide, Sam Howard-Spink – The debate surrounding music piracy versus the so-called collapse of the music industry has largely been bipolar, and yet so many other processes of music distribution have been developing. From online “sharity” communities that digitize obscure vinyl never released in digital format (a network of cultural preservation, one could argue), all the way to netlabels that could not care less about making money out of their releases, as well as “grime” networks made up of bedroom musicians constantly remixing each other, there is a vast wealth of possibilities driving music in the digital world. This panel will present key examples emerging from this “grey area”, and discuss future scenarios for music production and consumption that stand proudly outside the bipolar box.
  • SXSW Music Industry Geeks Meetup – Todd Hansen – As the SXSW Interactive Festival continues to grow, it often becomes harder to discover /network with the specific type of people you want to network with. Hence a full slate of daytime Meet Ups are scheduled for the 2011 event. These Meet Ups are definitely not a panel session — nor do they offer any kind of formal presentation or AV setup. On the contrary, these sessions are a room where many different conversations and (and will) go on at once. This timeslot is for technology geeks working in the music industry to network with other SXSW Interactive, Gold and Platinum network with other technology geeks in this industry. Cash bar onsite.

There you go! See you all soon in Austin.

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