Top SXSW Music Panels for music exploration, discovery and interaction

SXSW 2014 PanelPicker has opened up. I took a tour through the SXSW Music panel proposals to highlight the ones that are of most interest to me … typically technical panels about music discovery and interaction. Here’s the best of the bunch. You’ll notice a number of Echo Nest oriented proposals. I’m really not shilling, I genuinely think these are really interesting talks (well, maybe I’m shilling for my talk).

 I’ve previously highlighted the best the bunch for SXSW Interactive

A Genre Map for Discovering the World of Music
Screenshot_5_22_13_11_01_AMAll the music ever made (approximately) is a click or two away. Your favorite music in the world is probably something you’ve never even heard of yet. But which click leads to it?

Most music “discovery” tools are only designed to discover the most familiar thing you don’t already know. Do you like the Dave Matthews Band? You might like O.A.R.! Want to know what your friends are listening to? They’re listening to Daft Punk, because they don’t know any more than you. Want to know what’s hot? It’s yet another Imagine Dragons song that actually came out in 2012. What we NEED are tools for discovery through exploration, not dictation.

This talk will provide a manic music-discovery demonstration-expedition, showcasing how discovery through exploration (The Echo Nest Discovery list & the genre mapping experiment, Every Noise at Once) in the new streaming world is not an opportunity to pay different people to dictate your taste, but rather a journey, unearthing new music JUST FOR YOU.

The Predictive Power of Music
Music taste is extremely personal and an important part of defining and communicating who we are.

Musical Identity, understanding who you are as a music fan and what that says about you, has always been a powerful indicator of other things about you. Broadcast radio’s formats (Urban, Hot A/C, Pop, and so on) are based on the premise that a certain type of music attracts a certain type of person. However, the broadcast version of Musical Identity is a blunt instrument, grouping millions of people into about 12 audience segments. Now that music has become a two-way conversation online, Musical Identity can become considerably more precise, powerful, and predictive.

In this talk, we’ll look at why music is one of the strongest predictors and how music preference can be used to make predictions about your taste in other forms of entertainment (books, movies, games, etc).

Your Friends Have Bad Taste: Fixing Social Music
Music is the most social form of entertainment consumption, but online music has failed to deliver truly social & connected music experiences. Social media updates telling you your aunt listened to Hall and Oates doesn’t deliver on the promise of social music. As access-based, streaming music becomes more mainstream, the current failure & huge potential of social music is becoming clearer. A variety of app developers & online music services are working to create experiences that use music to connect friends & use friends to connect you with new music you’ll love. This talk will uncover how to make social music a reality.

Anyone Can Be a DJ: New Active Listening on Mobile
The mobile phone has become the de facto device for accessing music. According to a recent report, the average person uses their phone as a music player 13 times per day. With over 30 million songs available, any time, any place, listening is shifting from a passive to a personalized and interactive experience for a highly engaged audience.

New data-powered music players on sensor-packed devices are becoming smarter, and could enable listeners to feel more like creators (e.g. Instagram) by dynamically adapting music to its context (e.g. running, commuting, partying, playing). A truly personalized pocket DJ will bring music listening, discovery, and sharing to an entirely new level.

In this talk, we’ll look at how data-enhanced content and smarter mobile players will change the consumer experience into a more active, more connected, and more engaged listening experience.

Human vs. Machine: The Music Curation Formula
Recreating human recommendations in the digital sphere at scale is a problem we’re actively solving across verticals but no one quite has the perfect formula. The vertical where this issue is especially ubiquitous is music. Where we currently stand is solving the integration of human data with machine data and algorithms to generate personalized recommendations that mirrors the nuances of human curation. This formula is the holy grail.

Algorithmic, Curated & Social Music Discover
As the Internet has made millions of tracks available for instant listening, digital music and streaming companies have focused on music recommendations and discovery. Approaches have included using algorithms to present music tailored to listeners’ tastes, using the social graph to find music, and presenting curated & editorial content. This panel will discuss the methods, successes and drawbacks of each of these approaches. We will also discuss the possibility of combining all three approaches to present listeners with a better music discovery experience, with on-the-ground stories of the lessons from building a Discover experience at Spotify.

Beyond the Play Button – The Future of Listening (This is my talk)

Rolling in the Deep (labelled) by Adele

Rolling in the Deep (labelled) by Adele

35 years after the first Sony Walkman shipped, today’s music player still has essentially the same set of controls as that original portable music player. Even though today’s music player might have a million times more music than the cassette player, the interface to all of that music has changed very little.

In this talk we’ll explore new ways that a music listener can interact with their music. First we will explore the near future where your music player knows so much about you, your music taste and your current context that it plays the right music for you all the time. No UI is needed.

Next, we’ll explore a future where music listening is no longer a passive experience. Instead of just pressing the play button and passively listening you will be able to jump in and interact with the music. Make your favorite song last forever, add your favorite drummer to that Adele track or unleash your inner Skrillex and take total control of your favorite track.

5 Years of Music Hack Day
hackday. in 2009 by Dave Haynes and James Darling, Music Hack Day has become the gold standard of music technology events. Having grown to a worldwide, monthly event that has seen over 3500 music hacks created in over 20 cities the event is still going great guns. But, what impact has this event had on the music industry and it’s connection with technology? This talk looks back at the first 5 years of Music Hack Day, from it’s origins to becoming something more important and difficult to control than it’s ‘adhocracy’ beginnings. Have these events really impacted the industry in a positive way or have the last 5 years simply seen a maturing attitude towards technologies place in the music industry? We’ll look at the successes, the hacks that blew people’s minds and what influence so many events with such as passionate audience have had on changing the relationship between music and tech.

The SXSW organizers pay attention when they see a panel that gets lots of votes, so head on over and make your opinion be known.

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