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SXSW: The 7 Hottest Topics In Music Tech Right Now

SXSW: The 7 Hottest Topics In Music Tech Right Now

by Ari Herstand

The music portion of South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas officially kicked off Tuesday. Infiltrating the movie buffs and techie nerds who are in town for the film and interactive portions of the festival, are the skinny jean wearing, bead sporting, aviator donning, shaggy, smelly musicians of the world.  And of course, the leaders of the actual business side of the music industry.  Last night, 6th Street was still relatively tame as the Interactive to Music transition happened.  But, no doubt, tonight will get weird.

The first panel I attended was with the Director of Product Management at Facebook, Michael Cerda, VP of Business Development at BandPage, Chris Wiltsee, Managing Director of Walden Venture CapitalLarry Marcus and the moderator was SF MusicTech veteran, Todd Tate.

The panel seemed to meander somewhat aimlessly for the first half hour around general tech topics until someone from the audience nearly interrupted with “So what ARE the 7 hottest topics in music tech right now” (the name of this panel session) to which the room erupted in applause.  People like lists.  And they like structure.  It would have been nice if the list was displayed on the projector so the room could follow along.  But nonetheless, the 2nd half hour provided a bit more form and direction for the overflowing conference room at the Hilton hotel in downtown Austin.

Here’s What The Panel Had To Say About What’s Happening in Music Tech Right Now

1) Video

Tate started it off by referencing YouTube’s new terms of service for independent artists which Zoe Keating revealed in her blog, about how they are requiring artists to put their music on YouTube at the same time they release it anywhere else.  This prevents windowing releases – putting them on download stores like iTunes and BandCamp prior to releasing it for streaming. To which Michael Cerda of Facebook replied, “There are more places on the Internet to put video.”

And as Facebook video inches closer to YouTube’s traffic, with 3 billion views A DAY, he’s right. However, they don’t have the monetization features that YouTube offers such as Content ID or even in video annotations where artists can link to merch, tickets and downloads. And Cerda would not discuss a timeline for these updates, however he did say “we’re really just getting started.”

“YouTube is more like a library. Facebook is more about discovery. We’re building a feature set around that.” – Michael Cerda, Facebook

Larry Marcus, whose VC firm works with Pandora, SoundHound, BandPage, Jukely and others said that “you may have 2 million followers on YouTube, but you can’t actually reach those followers. It’s really important to own your fans.”


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