MUSIC BUZZ: SXSW // Warpaint // Blurred Lines
Next Tuesday, the music section of SXSW in Austin kicks off. Elke and I attended last year and had the time of our lives, even though it was supposed to be “miserable”. The thing is, if you see the event with fresh eyes, you just notice something like a Doritos stage, rather than being upset about the corporate take over of what is supposed to be an alternative music festival.
This McDonald’s is a major sponsor and it is not a brand known for its involvement in music. Still, they want to pay musicians not with cash but solely with the exposure caused by the association with its brand. And it is just what anybody else does, according to their PR:
“We follow the same standard protocol as other brands and sponsors by inviting talented and emerging musicians to join us at the SXSW Festival. We look forward to serving McDonald’s food, drinks and fun in Austin. #slownewsday”
The problem with exposure is that it has to lead eventually to somebody who is willing to compensate the artist’s effort. McDonald’s wants to pass that responsibility to its customers, which is cheap, given that that the bands are supposed to help to find those customers in the first place. So should not surprise McDonald’s, that there is some backfire on this.
Another big brand at SXSW is Spotify, who everybody in the music industry likes to love-hate. They have an awesome lineup in their “House” this year, including my number one 2015 must-see Ibeyi. They also want to move away from their black & green color scheme and reveal a new design.
If you can’t go to SXSW, NPR gives you hundred tracks for free streaming or download.
Not part of this year’s SXSW, my favorite band Warpaint want to be the next ones who try to get away from the album format. They released two new songs No Way Out (which they played live during their last tour) and I’ll Start Believing* and didn’t even call it an EP. The songs are awesome, of course, but I hope they will get eventually get back to produce a full-length. I grew up with the album and might be old-school over this topic, but I find it hard to generate enough buzz when your music trickles down song by song every few months. Radiohead tried this after In Rainbows with a few songs and then returned to the album with The King of Limbs.
Speaking of Warpaint, The Guardian has a great interview with them:
It’s hard to make profound statements about your music in these circumstances. And Warpaint know that. They have a reputation for taking themselves seriously – other interviewers have found them difficult. But they are brilliant company. They’re a band that seem to physically describe the phrase “you can’t sit with us”, yet here I am, cross-legged on the grass in LA, in the bosom of their hang. As someone who has loved their music for years, their friendliness is a relief. Like finding out the person you’ve been dating online isn’t Catfishing you.
This surprised me little bit – I have never heard an account of them being unfriendly and when I met them myself, I felt we would be good friends in a different world.
Finally, here is a piece about the potential fallout of the Blurred Lines lawsuit:
But while the industry thinks that this will stifle creativity, because the verdict sets a precedent that anything that merely sounds like something else is liable to be copyright infringement, the end result actually might be one that leads to— gasp!— better music. Sure, we all enjoyed “Blurred Lines” for the fun little dance number that it was, but it apes a song from 1977. Shouldn’t we be moving thing ahead?
That would be nice. Alternatively, you just turn a way from Billboard-grade pop music: there’s plenty of brilliant, innovative music out there.