The 7digital team in attendance at this year’s SXSW were an industrious bunch, kept busy by the usual mix of wonderful music, media mayhem and back-to-back meetings. Representing 7digital in Austin, TX this time were CEO and Co-Founder Ben Drury, President of North America Vickie Nauman and North American Marketing Manager Anna Siegel. With Ben as a panel speaker, Vickie a panel moderator and Anna off meeting the labels, the group saw a myriad of people, heard a number of great new ideas and were fully engaged from morning to night. There was even an appearance from one of 7digital’s Development Team, though he was on a much-envied, music-appreciation adventure at the festival!
The week was a mix of innovation (lead by the folks at the ‘Interactive’ week), and complex music-engagement strategies and business plans, which bubbled throughout the ‘Music’ portion of the event. During the festival 7digital announced a major upgrade to the premier Android App and we heard a lot of positive reflections on how 7digital has helped partners like BlackBerry, Imagination Technologies, and T-Mobile build music into their environments more easily.
As many music companies are experiencing consolidation (Universal and EMI, Fontana and InGrooves, IODA and The Orchard with Sony), there were many others reaching important milestones, including Music Metric, Last.fm, BandPages, Turntable.fm, Rdio, Mog, Rhapsody and many more legal services driving the future of music. We met a number of people bridging the music and tech worlds with interesting location-based and social media-driven music discovery apps. There was no sign of the next big ‘Twitter’ or ‘Facebook’ this year, but it did seem the quantity of start-ups going for social media-based platforms was at an all time high.
Vickie Nauman had a chance to sit down with The AP as an expert eye witness at the event! Watch her video interview by clicking here.
Music in Devices – What is working?
Vickie Nauman moderated a panel of experts to uncover the truth behind how music really works on devices. She was joined by Eric London, Sr. Product Manager, Music & Personalization for T-Mobile, Aaron Levitz, Director of Content Acquisition & Entertainment for Blackberry/RIM, Carl Rholing, VP Business Development for TuneIn and Pete Downton, Partner of Imagination Technologies. They spoke to a packed room in a discussion focused on the various levels of user engagement on the pyramid of music consumption.
The high profile companies represented on the panel all revealed different motivations for including music in their service. The struggles around similar issues have evolved music on device strategy to include varying product enhancements on the quest for active users. For T-Mobile this includes carrier billing, whereas Blackberry is tapping into the strength of their BBM network. A Billboard.biz article on the panel recalled the myriad of complaints echoed about the hurdles for bringing the world of technology and music rights holders together. The main takeaway, however, would be a more positive acknowledgement of the accomplishments made by this collective of problem-solvers through working together, thinking progressively about user engagement and overcoming what can seem like impossible tasks. The shameless plug for 7digital’s open API entered the conversation as a flexible B2B solution for any company wanting to tackle this new frontier. The panel as a group shed light on where improvements can be made for music on devices and what Apple-outsiders are doing to tackle them.
For more information on the panel, please read Billboard’s full review.
Getting Under The Hood: Music Operations For CTOs and Developers
Ben Drury was brought on board to help teach the woes of metadata management and reporting with moderator Bill Wilson, VP, Digital Strategy & Business Dev digitalmusic.org, Ted Cohen, Managing Partner for TAG Strategic and Josh Builder, CTO for The Orchard. Josh’s thorough Powerpoint presentation tackled everything from UPC generation, XMLs and ISRCs, to hard drives and DDEX, and he lead a discussion which ultimately warned against tackling the metadata monster alone. As Ben Drury explained, there is a tendency for companies to underestimate the labour associated with working on metadata ingestion, and Josh warned the group of the complexities of encoding high quality XML and accurate data. Although those in the audience were heavily engaged throughout, asking questions and taking notes, there were several sighs of relief when both companies offered their hand at a solution; through using aggregators or distributors like The Orchard for encoding and deliveries, and companies like 7digital to build consumer-facing music services on their public API, one can indeed avoid the monster.
Now to the music…
Though historically, SXSW started out with a focus on indie-rock, you can now find a huge range of genres represented at the festival, which seems to increasingly add complexity to the scheduling process. On a nightly basis you could catch everything from heavy metal to hip hop and this year there seemed to be a major influx of electronic and dance artists. Skrillex headlined several parties and the 7digital team even found themselves at a well-attended UK dubstep event one night.
Anna’s favorite showcases: Matthew Dear, Cults, Kindness, Alabama Shakes, Temper Trap, Tanlines, The Pinstripes, Quantic & Alice Russell and KP & the Boom Booms.
Vickie’s favorite showcases: Nada Surf’s acoustic set, Temper Trap, Alabama Shakes, DJ Baby Chino, David Garza, Fanfarlo, The Punch Brothers, Skrillex and Tom Morello’s impromptu guitar set in the street!