SXSW 2015 – DAY 2 RECAP

This is my fifth time visiting Austin. You would think by now that I have adjusted to fifteen hours days on my feet, followed by five to six hours of sleep, but waking up seems harder than ever this time around. Maybe it’s the meds from my recent emergency root canal, or maybe I’m just getting older. I hope it’s the former and not the latter.

Anyways, my second day in Austin was a weird one. Due to a few schedule changes many of my plans ended up falling apart, but those I was able to make happen turned into memorable occasions and great opportunities for content generation.

It all began as every day should with three breakfast tacos from one of the (probably) hundreds of food trucks in the greater Austin area. I love chorizo almost as I love tacos in general, but being from New England a good breakfast taco is nearly impossible to find, so whenever I find myself this far South I indulge until my heart and stomach are both content. You might not care about my meals, but it was only because of choosing this random truck I met three reps from Billboard who also happened to be searching for early morning chorizo. We swapped stories of bands good and bad, then told each other we’d try to meet up at Migos later in the week. I doubt we will see one another again, but it’s amazing to be in a place where such conversations can happen before 11AM on a Wednesday.

My first big event of the day was a panel on content curation and the way music discovery is changing, which you can find a summary/review of right here on the Haulix blog. The panel featured guests from Shazam, Rdio, 8Tracks, and Pandora, which one might think would lead to very different answers when hoping to learn about the future of discovery, but truth be told they were pretty much in agreement from the first five minutes onward. As far as everyone in that room was concerned, the future of discovery is all about data. If we can harness the information gathered from a music fan’s previous listening experiences we can service them with similar artists and songs that should play well with their interests. Again, if you want to learn more about all this, click here.

Following the panel I spent lunch with our clients and friends SideOneDummy Records. We chatted about their recent Jeff Rosenstock release, as well as the artists they plan to see while here in Austin. They promised me not to reveal those performers names for fear someone else may try to pick them up, so just know if you see someone from the S1D staff at a venue this week there is probably a buzz band playing in the near future.

After lunch I met with Nick Thomas, frontman for The Spill Canvas, and conducted a thirty minute interview which will soon be live here on the blog. We discussed the transition from The Spill Canvas to his current work as a solo artists, as well as his perspective on the industry after spending over a decade navigating its often treacherous waters. I had never spoken to Nick prior to this meeting, but I am really pleased with the results. Look for that piece to run here in the near future.

I caught a couple sets after speaking with Nick, including listening to Leon Bridges perform while waiting in line to see him at the Spotify House (which was better than not hearing him at all). Then I got a text from Jesse Richman of PropertyOfZack asking me if I had any interest in seeing the new Kurt Cobain documentary, ‘Montage Of Heck.’ I told him I definitely did and they two of us spent the next 90-minutes waiting in line for a 530 screening. I’m not allowed to talk too much about what we saw, but I will say that any fan of Nirvana owes it to themselves to see this film as soon as possible. It’s gorgeous, thought-provoking, and executed in such a way that you will want to see it again almost as soon as it comes to an end.

At this point I was pretty much ready to call it a night, but then my friends in the Atlanta band Microwave texted to say they were added to a house show several miles from downtown Austin. I hailed an uber and rushed to the southside of Austin where I found the band, as well as several industry professionals, hanging out in what was literally someone’s backyard. Microwave sounded great though, and less than fifteen minutes after they finished the cops came to shut the place down. The show was over already though, so their arrival was a little too late to make anyone all that nervous.

By the time I made it back to downtown Austin I was ready to collapse. I was walking back to my hotel from where the cab had dropped me off and encountered a poster promoting a new film with Jeremy Sisto called ‘Hangman.’ There was a screening starting at midnight, the last of the week for the film, and I told myself I would try to make it for Sisto. I made it, but the film was a mess, and I ended up going to bed disappointed.

It’s now 11am on Thursday and it’s time to begin another round of SXSW madness. Check back tomorrow for another blog and feel free to tweet me if you have any requests for future SXSW content.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.