Help Make These 10 Potential SXSW 2016 Music Panels A Reality

This may seem hard to believe, but it’s already time to begin preparing for SXSW 2016. We are just seven months away from the largest gathering of music industry professionals in the world, and if you want to make the most of it you need to start planning your time on the ground as soon as possible. You should also book your hotel soon, but that’s not really something we cover here at Haulix.

One of the most important components of all music conferences are the panels, and SXSW has a long history of providing a diverse variety of topics for attendees to enjoy. In 2015 alone, we caught panels on the future of profitability and discovery in the streaming industry, the changing purpose of blogs, the things to look for when seeking management, and more. If we had to guess, we’d predict 2016 will have even better offerings, but in order for that to happen we need a little help from you.

SXSW allows anyone with a panel idea to submit their topic to a program called ‘Panel Picker.’ The best entries are accepted and placed into a competition where users must vote for the panels they want to see happen in 2016. SXSW received a record number of submissions this year, so voting means more now than ever.

We love attending SXSW, and we cherish the panel portion of the conference above all. We want to make the 2016 panel sessions the best the festival has ever held, and in order to help make that happen we gathered a few of our favorite panel ideas into a single post in hopes you will vote and aide us in making each a reality. Voting only takes a minute, so please help us make these important conversations happen by casting your ballot(s) as soon as you are able.

The HAULIX Panel 

(AKA – ‘Digital Distribution & Security: The End Of Piracy’)

In 2015 there was not a single panel at SXSW focused on piracy or the battle to eradicate the unwanted spread of copyrighted materials, which seems kind of crazy when you consider that music piracy is currently at an all-time high. We want to host a conversation that not only tells of our efforts in this fight, but of the numerous battles being fought to defeat digital piracy once and for all throughout the entertainment industry. We will also discuss how artists and labels alike can protect their music from leaks, as well as the tools currently being created to remove links if leaks do occur.

Accessibility at Live Music Venues + Festivals

Going to a festival or a concert at a club is something most of us do without a thought. But if you have a disability, the live music experience is often more complicated, and fraught with obstacles. Concert clubs aren’t always accessible, and there’s no guarantee festivals are either. This panel will bring together advocates for accessibility in live music–including several with disabilities–to educate attendees about these issues. The goal is to raise awareness of (and advocate for) greater accessibility at concerts, festivals and live music experiences, because music should be available to all.

No Basic Pitches: Publicity By The Journalists

When it comes to the proper pitch, it’s important to remember the audience you are trying to reach out to: PEOPLE. It may seem easy to assume music journalists are just drones spewing out reviews, but we are indeed humans who love this crazy industry we call music. Most successful publicists start off as journalists, and those who don’t can sometimes lack the perspective necessary to provide a successful pitch to a potential writer. In this panel, take a lesson from the publicists who are also journalists, featuring publicists/writers at companies like Another Reybee Production, Alternative Press, Bottle Cap Media,, Muddy Paw PR, Sonicbids, Substream Magazine, and many more.

Death Of A Metal Magazine

HM Magazine was founded in 1985 (the same year as Spin, Alternative Press and Metal Edge). It weathered the self-proclaimed music revolution of the mid-’90s with a name change (from Heaven’s Metal to HM – The Hard Music Magazine). With international distribution and acclaim covering the subgenre of a subgenre (so-called “Christian metal” under the musical umbrella of heavy metal, which was birthed out of rock), this magazine captured a vibrant scene, but went out of print in 2011, taking a paid print circulation of 13,000 to a free online viewership of 100,000+ per issue. In the summer of 2015 HM Magazine ceased to exist as a regular publication. This panel is about what it’s like to see your dream come true, as well as what it’s like to watch it die.

Following the Stream: Congress & Music Royalties

It seems so straightforward; you click on an app and endless music is at your fingertips. But behind all of the technology, songwriters and artists are making money through a complex web of music licensing law. This panel will discuss the sometimes controversial way artists get paid, the role Congress has in making it all work and a policy discussion on where we can improve the system. Panelists include Congresswoman Mimi Walters who serves on the Committee with jurisdiction over music licensing issues, the Director of Government Relations at Pandora, Katie Peters and Casey Rae, a musician and CEO of the Future of Music Coalition.

Don’t Be A Dick

We all have a job to do, but when it comes down to doing it, we’d rather work with those we like (& who are liked by others). We should all be too busy for high maintenance business relationships, so what’s the benefit of working with a jerk? The point of this panel is to explore how to work together – even if on opposing teams. Competition doesn’t always have to mean cutthroat; it can also mean collaboration & inspiration. Do you know what’s fair? We want to explore fair practice, the literal & metaphorical “costs of doing business” & how music fits into corporate & indie business models. We have juicy horror stories to share but aim to broach these subjects with humour & diplomacy.

Four Agreements Every Artist Needs to Understand

If you’re an independent artist, songwriter, producer or manager, this panel is for you! Four prominent entertainment lawyers dig into the key contracts you need to understand to be successful: Management, Label, Publishing, and Band Member agreements. You will learn key terminology, negotiation points, and the pitfalls you need to look out for. If you are serious about your career, then this is a must-attend panel.

Is Cannabis the Music’s New Business Opportunity?

The panelists are four independent music and tech industry professionals who have formed a new alliance to converge music brands with the emerging cannabis industry. We will have some real-life case studies to share with the audience about how music brands and artists can get into the cannabis industry. Many artists are already getting in some to have signature cannabis strains, some want to participate in the medical marijuana sector to help move the industry forward with their celebrity. Cannabis is already a multi-billion dollar industry and is still not legal across the nation. The time to get in is NOW! 

Why Transparency Is Good for the Music Industry

Data transparency is typically discussed as an issue that benefits only artists. However, labels, publishers, distributors, music tech companies, and more all have just as much to gain from open access to information regarding music sales, streaming activity, and more. This panel will explore why widespread data transparency is a win for all parties, focusing on issues such as the need for updated technology to govern sales reporting, auditable royalty accounting, clear ownership of data, and more. By addressing these problems, all sectors of the music industry can benefit from powerful data intelligence while reducing the sense of distrust that currently pervades the business.

Cultivating Superfans

Artists are brands. And, like any brand, artists must have the tools to identify, incentivize and grow their audience and, ultimately, their business. Today, as consumers have seemingly limitless access to artists and music across an array of services and outlets, it’s not easy for an artist to stand out, much less command attention and frequent engagement from fans. Loyalty will lead to revenue, but how does an artist build a relationship with a fan, earn their loyalty and empower these fans to take action on their behalf? This panel will discuss the trends, challenges and opportunities of leveraging D2C, crowdfunding and loyalty/rewards platforms to build meaningful fan relationships.

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.