Why SXSW Interactive Attendees Should Stay for Music

For years I have been preaching to my SXSW Interactive-attending compatriots that if they have any interest at all, they should buck up the extra money and stick around for the Music part of the conference.

On the surface most folks attribute that to my love of live music and, without question, that’s a big part of why I recommend attending SXSW Music (and for those of you playing along at home, here’s the list of bands I saw this year). However, the conference continues on, as well, and there are always some fantastic sessions that happen during the Music portion. In fact, to me, the lines between what happens in the conference sessions for Interactive, Film, and Music are often so blurred that it really feels like all one cohesive thing. This year was no exception. In fact, it was more true this year than it ever has been for me.

Listeners to our Mac Geek Gab podcast have heard my distate of multiple-person, panel-based presentations for the SXSW Interactive event (because they tend to be nothing more than boondoggles for the panelists, many of whom seem to think they can show up unprepared and just blather on promoting their company or latest belief du jour), but the panel format usually works perfectly for the Music part of things (and I’m not sure why that is, but it is).

One panel in particular really struck home, “Juggalos to Phish-heads: Managing Fanatical Music Consumers.” I’ll be honest — I attended this one strictly for personal reasons. I’m a fan of both Phish and R.E.M., and this panel featured two folks (Andy Gadiel and Ethan Kaplan) who each ran fan sites for those two bands, respectively. At times in the past I’d been a regular reader of both of their sites and was happy to have the opportunity to see them speak.

What happened, though, was that this panel struck home in a business sense for me far more than perhaps any other panel in the Music session ever has. As the title and direction dictated, a large portion of the panel was spent discussing how one could cater to fans of any given artist, enhancing that experience for them and adding value to the fans’ appreciation for each band.

Ninety-percent of what was discussed applied directly to us here at The Mac Observer. After all, when it’s all said and done, we cater to people who are fans of (or at least interested in) Apple and its products. And Apple fans can get pretty fanatical!

I’m not saying this particular session would have necessarily been appropriate for you, dear reader, but what I am saying is that if you leave SXSW when the Interactive part ends, you’re going to miss out on a huge opportunity to catch other sessions and meet people who will be able to provide you with an insight you won’t necessarily get from those in your own echo-chamber.

Stick around, it’s worth it. And hey, at night you can go catch some great live music, too.