SXSW 2013

Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek, born February 21, 1983, is a Swedish entrepreneur and a technologist who started the music streaming service Spotify. He founded his first company in 1997 at the age of 14. | Photo: | Daniel Ek, Spotify, Sxsw, ,

A Great "Spot" to Check Out Some Brilliant Talent

SXSW has quickly become the mecca to discover emerging and established talent, consistently showcasing the widest array of musicians that one town can hold. "Better than fireworks, ice cream, butterflies and rainbows: SXSW" is how music industry and live event PR powerhouse Audrey Fix Schaefer described the scene on her Facebook post. Every year at this time Austin Texas overflows with jam-packed performances over the course of almost two weeks. If you find yourself in Austin during SXSW, pay special attention to the random buskers because you may be watching the next big act. Aspiring artists will carve out a makeshift stage wherever they can find a few feet of space. A few years back, Mumford and Sons played in their hotel lobby during SXSW.

One very green venue has found a way to dial back the frenzy by creating an environment that has become a favorite for artists and fans alike. The Spotify House, at 1100 East Cesar Chavez Street, has created an intimate setting that is described as "taking music fans away from the insanity of the daily SXSW grind." You may recognize the name. Spotify is the award-winning digital music service that provides on-demand access to over 20 million tracks. With a stated mission to "'make all the world's music available instantly to everyone, wherever and whenever they want it", Spotify makes this service a personal fave, as global music discovery and local and international artist promotion was the foundation of the Global Pop Music breakfast show I hosted for 9 years and the channel (UPop 29) that I programmed for XM and WorldSpace satellite radio.

Music discovery and exposing U.S. listeners to international artists is something that is rarely found on American "terrestrial" radio. Since 1997 thousands of U.S. radio stations were swallowed by the three massive consolidators. Fifteen years after this consolidation, the unique character of local radio is hard to find. When radio is done well it can still reflect the essence of the local community and provide entertaining banter from personalities, act as the catalyst for sharing new music, interact with listeners through conversation and special promotions, provide vital information in the event of local or national emergency, and be the source of all things local. That's a big differentiator from sterile web and mobile digital streaming services. The good news'. there are still radio stations that are looked upon as the voice of a community and the source for discovery and information. They wisely embrace live and local personalities who live and breathe the format and the community. The music radio stations that can position themselves as a source of music discovery can allow that station to rise above the bland competitive noise, just as Spotify has risen above its digital music delivery competitors.

Spotify Live: it happened the night of Wednesday, March 13th. The free concert featured Kendrick Lamar, Cazzette, Youngblood Hawke and DJ Hesta Prynn. The performances were set to a custom multimedia installation by Obscura Digital for an immersive music experience. Nice touch.

Earlier in the week Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek sat down with Forbes' Steven Bertoni and he shared some of the stats and success of the service, now available in twenty countries /markets. Spotify recently launched in Poland, Italy and Portugal, which combined with their availability in the USA, UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, Australia and New Zealand has generated six million paying subscribers out of a universe of approximately twenty-four million users.

While Spotify certainly was not the first in the digital music service arena, their model in negotiating and securing agreements has resulted in 500 million dollars in rights holder payments and that alone is an accomplishment of note.

One of the ways Spotify has mastered artist and user interaction is simple and tactically smart. When a "Spotify Artist" releases a new track an alert is sent to their Spotify fan base. In some cases this can mean millions of people receive that text inviting them to instantly play the new song. The shear marketing value speaks for itself.

The Spotify house at SXSW
The Spotify house at SXSW

Daniel Ek, born February 21, 1983, is a Swedish entrepreneur and a technologist who started the music streaming service Spotify. He founded his first company in 1997 at the age of 14. | Daniel Ek, Spotify, Sxsw, House, Green,

Making all the world's music available instantly to everyone would be a helluva lot easier if a song license was able to be valid globally rather than the current and historical licensing by "territory." This territorial licensing can delay or prohibit the release, sale or performance of songs on a country by country basis. This was something I had to deal with in global and U.S. satellite radio where securing certain international songs to play globally involved territory-specific reporting practices and fee structures.

The music and audience interaction Spotify strives to create came to life during Spotify Live and the multimedia installation by Obscura Digital, which was designed to amplify the live performances with a "real-time audio-reactive music visualization system." If that wasn't trekkie enough for ya', strap yourself in for the following press quote about the 7,500 ft warehouse space, which was described as a "teleporter, taking people on an optical journey from the streets of Austin into the future of musical expression." Beam Me Up, Boniver, and Make it so, Allen Stone'.

Throughout SXSW 2013 the Spotify House has hosted some of the most buzzed about artists at the festival including Jamie N Commons, Robert DeLong, Diamond Rings, Flight Facilities, Flume, Angel Haze, Gregory Alan Isakov, Ivan & Alyosha, Neon Indian, Tom Odell, Pacific Air, The Last Bison, Sam Spiegel, Twenty One Pilots, Wallpaper, Watch the Duck and more. If you haven't heard of some of them, you will, because, each week I'll be introducing you to some of these artists and more on my New Music Friday feature right here. Feel free to share your SXSW experiences with a few million of our closest friends below!

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:10 PM EDT | More details


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