BMI, Billboard, Suntrust and Austin's Four Seasons Hotel teamed up to host the BMI & Billboard Acoustic Brunch at the South by Southwest Music Festival on Friday. A favorite among festival attendees, the brunch boasted a dynamic lineup featuring Andrea Balency, Bonnie Bishop, Jillette, Sugar & the Hi Lows, Lyle Divinsky, Milo Greene, Callagahn, and Tucker Jameson.
The packed lawn party had the bloody marys and mimosas flowing, starting at 10 a.m. "...Sounds like South by to me!" tweeted singer/songwriter Bleu McAuley.
at the Four Seasons (BMI brunch) @ sxsw ...open bar at 10am?...sounds like southby to mE!
The three-hour confab was heavy on good food (the popular egg-and-potato breakfast tacos ran out by noon) and industry power players, including attorney John Frankenheimer ( No. 75 on Billboard's Power 100 list), longtime music supervisors George Drakoulias and Jonathan McHugh, and the advertising and synch teams from Downtown Music Publishing.
And there was even more power just inside the doors of the Four Seasons at restaurant Trio. Red Light's Coran Capshaw ( Billboard's No. 2 Power player) was holding court in a packed lunch meeting that literally faced opposite the Billboard/BMI brunch, while Sirius XM host and forthcoming "America's Got Talent" judge Howard Stern made a surprise appearance across the room.
Pictured at the BMI & Billboard Acoustic Brunch presented by Suntrust during SXSW are BMI's Clay Bradley and Mike O'Neill, singer Donovan, and BMI's Jody Williams. (Photo: Erika Goldring)
An all-out brawl ensued at the Vice Kills Texas party late Saturday/early Sunday after A$AP Rocky and his A$AP Mob crew reacted with fists to getting beer thrown at them.
According to reports, one of Rocky's crew members had his do-rag swiped about 15 minutes into the group's set at 1100 Warehouse, causing a brief stoppage in the show to retrieve it. Not long after, a full can of beer was lobbed at the performers, prompting another stoppage. This happened at around 3:30 a.m.
Fuse reports that "to his credit, Rocky defused the situation" but warned that if any other non-water products were thrown at them, "there would be consequences."
When five minutes later another beer was launched on stage, the group entered the crowd and started to fight. Police soon arrived and the place was cleared before the last act, Fidlar, could play their set.
According to Spinner, at least one audience member had a "gash" on his head after the fight.
March 18, 2012 | Person on the street Person on the Street: Vanessa Anderson, Publicist, AMPR Group
Vanessa Anderson with client Shawn Chrystopher. (Photo: Erika Ramirez)
Vanessa Anderson, publicist from AMPR Group, took time out from roaming the SXSW streets with clients Stereotypes to attend Timbaland's listening session at The Parish yesterday (March 17).
Anderson also represents Devi Dev, 9th Wonder and Shawn Chrystopher, who also stopped by the listening session.
Anderson, who arrived to SXSW on Wednesday (March 14), right when the streets started heating up, let Billboard.biz in on what she loved and didn't love so much about this year's festival.
Billboard.biz: What's the best band/artist you've seen yet? Vanessa Anderson: Surprisingly, Travis Porter at the VIBE x Cashmere Agency showcase on Friday night. They had incredible energy and really connected with the crowd.
Who are you most excited to see? I probably was most excited to 50 Cent do the entire Get Rich or Die Tryin' album but sadly I missed it.
What's the best panel or keynote you've seen? Definitely the Steve Stoute and Nas panel. Pete Rock and DJ Premier showed up too. It was absolutely awesome and living in LA, events like this rarely occur so that was great.
What's the best gossip you've heard? I heard that Timbaland might be working with fun. I saw him at the fun. show so I'd be really excited to see what could come of that.
Who have you met/do you hope to meet that you're really excited about? Bun B! I love his energy and have been a fan of his since I was a kid so meeting him backstage at the Google/YouTube event was like a dream come true.
Who/what do you think people will be buzzing about after SXSW 2012 is over? It's definitely becoming too inundated with signed artists/labels. I think the beauty of SXSW is that you get to hear and experience indie artists, which can be overshadowed when you have platinum artists playing right next door.
March 18, 2012 | Person on the street Man on the Street: Billy Altman, Music Journalist/Historian
Billboard.biz: What's the best band/artist you've seen yet? Billy Altman: Black Flamingo - a semi-psych band from L.A.
Who are you most excited to see? Peter Case and Paul Collins
What's the best party you've been to? Billy Gibbons' Hot Sauce Party- it had a jazz band and a female acrobat.
What's the best panel or keynote you've seen? Haircuts and Attitude with Bob Gruen
What's the best gossip you've heard? I'll have to pass on that!
Who have you met/hope to meet that you are most excited about? Mojo Nixon!
Who/what do you think people will be buzzing about after SXSW 2012 is over? Alabama Shakes- no question about it
March 18, 2012 | SXSW Diary SXSW Diary: How The Windish Agency's Ambreen Razaq Dealt With Her Fear of Missing Out
I suffer from a condition called FOMO. It stands for "fear of missing out." I can't claim credit for coining the term, but it definitely controls my life at SXSW. Maybe it's because I'm young and want to maximize opportunities, but I feel weird if I stay at a venue for over two hours, I'm always looking at my schedule worrying about what I'm missing, and then inevitably decide to just forget it and go to the Virgin Mobile 508 House because I can't resist a free Pimm's cup with good company.
But it's all over now! I'm back in LA curled up on my couch recovering, and while I didn't see the A$AP Rocky fight at 2am last night, SXSW 2012 was amazing and I have accepted whatever it is I've missed out on!
Highlights of Thursday to Saturday: - All of Friday - going nonstop from a 10am coffee meeting all the way to pizza with my roomies in the hotel lobby at 5am. In between, watching 12 bands, finding out most New Yorkers know what Pimm's is, and being accused of not reading enough books.
- My friend calling Trust's music "Miami vice jams" at Club Deville.
- Meeting a promoter I've emailed with who I imagined was 45 and finding out he's 28.
JMSN at the IAMSOUND School Night showcase at Club 606 (Photo: Ambreen Razaq)
- JMSN at Club 606: A cross between The Weeknd and Justin Timberlake, JMSN at the IAMSOUND / School Night showcase on Friday had been marked and bolded in my schedule for ages and the live set, which included a full band + string trio, surpassed my expectations.
- Purity Ring at Central Presbyterian Church: I've had the pleasure of seeing Purity Ring a number of times but it is still such a treat to watch them. Their spell-bounding performance is unlike any other and to top it off the duo are some of the sweetest people I've ever met in my life.
- Having @BeroccaUSA follow me ( @amberdino) on twitter. Berocca is my secret weapon to combatting SXSW fatigue.
- The amazing dance party that occurred at SBTRKT's set at Pitchfork's Day Party at Mohawk.
- Charli XCX at Central Presbyterian Church: She is just so cool. I feel like she should be a character on Skins (UK version). Much darker and moodier than I expected, but she has unbelievable control over her voice and incredible stage presence.
- Finally seeing Django Django on Saturday night and loving it after missing all of their other performances this week.
- A random guy caressing my whole face as he walked by me at 508 house at 2am on Saturday. A good 30 seconds of trauma prevented me from finding him and having a stern word about respecting personal space.
- Someone on my flight waking me up at the Austin airport because I fell asleep and they were afraid I was going to miss boarding.
And that's a wrap! Until next year, Austin!
SBTRKT throws down at the Mohawk Day Party Thursday (Photo: Ambreen Razaq)
Joe Berlinger's documentary on Paul Simon's return to South Africa 25 years after the recording of Graceland won the SXSW Audience Award in the 24 Beats per Second Category. "Under African Skies" is the only music film to win an Audience Award.
Next up for the film is a stop at the Dallas Film Festival, which runs April 12-22, and then the London Sundance Festival April 26-29.
Simon will return to London July 15 to perform with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and other musicians from the Graceland sessions as part of the Hard Rock Calling festival, the Guardian reported this weekend. Jimmy Cliff, whose "Vietnam" Simon covered on his tour last year, will also perform with Simon.
"Under African Skies" chronicles Simon's return to South Africa two and a half decades after visiting the country to work with local musicians. At the time, a cultural boycott was in place, which stirred up resentment among forces opposed to the Apartheid regime. Simon visited in 1985 and released Graceland in 1986. A year later, Simon was being praised far and wide for bringing South African musicians into the public eye.
The final SXSW award, in the Headliners category, will be handed out Monday. Among the music films in the category are "Marley" and "Big Easy Express."
Later, when she announced she would play her "new single," several men in the crowd shouted, "I'm single, too!" prompting Jones to scan the audience with mock interest. "Are you attractive?"
Such an outpouring of requests should come as a bit of a relief to Jones, who details what was clearly one messy breakup on new album "Little Broken Hearts," out May 1. Playing the entire 12-track album in sequence, Jones outlines vignettes that include being dumped for a younger woman ("She's 22"), cheating from both parties ("4 Broken Hearts"), confrontation with a new girlfriend ("Miriam") and even a few drug metaphors (lead single "Happy Pills.") The Danger Mouse-produced set was reportedly inspired by Jones' breakup with a fiction-writer boyfriend, and several of the songs' sessions pre-dated Jones' work on another Danger Mouse project, 2011's "Rome" with Daniele Luppi.
Despite the songs' decidedly somber tone (only two songs - "Happy Pills" and the shuffling country tune "On The Road" - could be considered upbeat), Jones was met with a warm reception. "You guys are really great. It's a little scary sharing new things with new people, but we're all friends, right?"
The guest list-free showcase was the second of two Jones performances at SXSW, following her gig with side project The Little Willies Thursday night at Antone's.
Left, film marketing executive Jennifer Bedwell, "Searching for Sugar Man" director Malek Bendjelloul, Rodriguez and his girlfriend Bonnie being photographed by Billboard's Phil Gallo (right)
The bright lights of Paramount Theater marquee gave director Malk Bendjelloul a distinct charge as he wandered outside the venue a half-hour before the 9:30 p.m. screening. His film "Searching for Sugar Man" about the '70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez had won two awards at the Sundance Film festival where it premiered, but "it was nothing like this," he says, standing on the sidewalk and gesturing toward the building's brightly lit facade.
The man who acquired "Sugar Man" for Sony Pictures Classics, co-president and co-founder Michael Barker, shared in Bendjelloul's glee, offering to snap a photograph of the director who had traveled from his home in Stockholm to attend SXSW. Set-up for the shot was no easy task. Getting the right angle required Barker to back his way into the middle of Congress Avenue, one of Austin's main thoroughfares, and dodge traffic to get all the necessary elements in the shot. Having crossed the double yellow line -- and emboldened by red lights at both nearby intersections -- Barker captured Bendjelloul and the marquee on an iPhone.
"Searching for Sugar Man" is one of those rarities at SXSW. The film has distribution in the U.S. and several international territories, but it is still on the festival circuit; it's a tale of rediscovery about a forgotten artist from the early 1970s who is still capable of touring and recording; and it connects with everyone who ever dreamed of securing a record contract.
It's the story of Sixto Rodriguez, who began using only his surname in the late 1960s when he was performing in the dive bars of Detroit, singing about social issues, love and sex and the Motor City milieu; he wrote like Dylan, made records like Donovan and sang in a honeyed style that James Taylor was using to great success at the same time.
His career, seemingly, was kaput after just two albums for the upstart Sussex label, which broke through when Bill Withers started cranking out hits for them. Once he was dropped, he stopped trying, unaware that his music had a significant following in South Africa, particularly among the burgeoning anti-Apartheid movement.
"Searching for Sugar Man" director Malek Bendjelloul (center) and the subject of the documentary, Rodriguez (right) chatting with Billboard's Phil Gallo (left) after his midnight set at Austin's Mohawk.
As his music persona faded, many believed he had died; there were stories of onstage self-immolation. Truth be told, he worked in construction, attended Wayne State University and majored in philosophy and once ran for mayor of Detroit.
"I traveled around for six months, scouting the world for stories to tell in six-minute pieces for Swedish TV," Bendjelloul said on Tuesday, the day before the premiere, using a line he will repeat throughout the festival. "The best story I found, the best story I ever heard in my life, was Rodriguez. I can't even tell you the story in six minutes."
Wiz Khalifa at Austin's Club De Ville at Mountain Dew's Greeln Label Sound's SXSW showcase. (Photo: Jessica Lehrman)
In a week filled with surprise guests, the unannounced lineup at Mountain Dew's Green Label Sound showcase Friday night at Club De Ville was arguably just as exciting as its confirmed acts. Rapper Wiz Khalifa and dance-funk singer Penguin Prison joined a roster that already included dance acts like RAC and Starslinger as well as hip-hoppers Mac Miller and Three Six Mafia's Juicy J.
Khalifa was on hand to perform with Juicy J, who recently signed with Khalifa's Taylor Gang imprint on Atlantic Records, as well as to support fellow Pittsburgh native Mac Miller. Fellow Taylor Gang rappers Chevy Woods and Lola Monroe also took stage during the surprise set.
Penguin Prison popped up halfway through DJ duo RAC's set to debut a new single, "Hollywood," set for release in April exclusively via Green Label Sound. As he introduced his new RAC single, the band's Chris Glover asked the crowd, "Who out here lives in Los Angeles? Who here doesn't live in Los Angeles and hates it? Well, this song is about a girl who moved to L.A. and how it changed her life."
The unannounced lineup at Mountain Dew's Green Label Sound showcase was perhaps just as exciting as confirmed acts as Rapper Wiz Khalifa and Penguin Prison joined RAC, Starslinger, Mac Miller and Three Six Mafia's Juicy J. (Photo: Jessica Lehrman)
Juanes performing at Austin's ACL Live at the Moody Theater with rock critic Dave Marsh who hosted a Q&A with the Latin superstar. (Photo: Judy Cantor-Nuevas)
Juanes tore into a set of his Latin chart hits at ACL Live at the Moody Theater Friday, where a loosely packed audience of Austin fans, ecstatic at the chance to see the stadium idol in such an intimate venue.
Earlier in the day, the Colombian singer and guitarist, the highest profile Latin artist ever to participate in the festival , declared his independence from the confines of Latin pop superstardom during a SXSW Q&A for badgeholders.
"Sometimes success or fame is dangerous," Juanes told about 60 SX badge holders at the Austin Convention Center, during an interview with rock critic Dave Marsh, in which he acknowledged he was at a crossroads in the career that has taken the 39-year-old from Medellin's rock scene to huge success as a pop rock artist, one of the best known singers in Spanish in the world of all time.
"It's easy to get lost," Juanes said in English during the Q&A. "I was not expecting all these things that happened to me, it was a beautiful journey, but at the end I was like 'what was I doing here?'. I just want to be free and do songs that don't have any formula, I want to have no fear and just go…Sometimes you're afraid, but everyday I'm less afraid, I'm like f*ck it I don't care. I'm trying to remember who I was, all those dreams and all those ideas I had when I started in music. Definitely this is a transitional moment in my career."
Say what you like about Steve Stoute -- author ( The Tanning of America), branding expert, former label exec, artist manager and Grammy rabble-rouser -- but the man knows his way around the rap business. At South by Southwest on Saturday, he was interviewed by another authority, writer Dan Charnas, who has worked at The Source magazine and Profile Records as well as authoring the definitive book, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.
Stoute was in a deeply philosophical mood about rap and its impact. "Hip-hop helped change the way Americans see each other… it was the Trojan horse that brought the culture into households." He also argued that hip-hop had created a historic integration movement too: "Hip-hop culture has done more to bring people together than anything since Martin Luther King."
Later, he related his frustrating fights with radio and TV stations about initially accepting rap into their rotation: "Even successful African-Americans in media didn't support it." Advertising agencies were no better, only taking rap seriously when executives' kids could "fact-check what I'd tell them about rap."
Stoute even suggested that in some ways, segregation actually had benefits for African-American culture as it led to the development of black magazines and black TV channels. "It was the only proving ground for black culture." Now though, he said he sees no need for that as part of cultural integration: "You got to remove that whole 'black' thing so that it's not separate anymore."
Towards the end, Stoute and Charnas were a study in contrasts about the future of the rap business. Charnas delivered a heated rant about his concern that hip-hop again will become an outcast culture, as it first was.
Stoute countered in a more reflective tone: "I know the opportunities in front of us and what's there. I'm working on the evolution of the art form, working on the deeper penetration [of rap] into the psyche of America."
The "Facebook Music Marketing: Pages, Feeds, and Games" panel at SXSW Music served essentially as a rundown of sorts for every way an artist can maximize Facebook's platform - especially its new features rolled out in Timeline, which will become mandatory for all pages March 30 - to connect and engage with their fanbase.
The panel was moderated by former Inside Facebook reporter and current TechCrunch writer Josh Constine, who led a discussion featuring Facebook product communications manager Meredith Chin, BandPage founder/CEO J Sider, Bopler Games CEO Albin Serviant, and Headliner.fm CEO Mike More.
Facebook's new Timeline features - cover photos for self-expression, pinning posts to the top of a page for a week, clearer friend activity so a user knows how many friends have liked a band and listened to its music - help the social interaction between artists and fans, but the more important features for an artist on Facebook comes through the use of third party apps.
It's been years since Nas and former manager Steve Stoute formally worked together, but when the two reunited on-stage at a keynote Q&A at South by Southwest Friday it was as if little time had passed.
Stoute, a former exec VP at Interscope who now runs advertising agency Translation, chided his one-time management client about the early 2000s when Nas was competing with ringtone rap - a period that would ultimately inspire him to proclaim "Hip Hop Is Dead" on his 2006 album. (Stoute also set off much controversy with an editorial criticizing the Grammys in 2011.)
"You have to hear about guys like Chingy. People like it and radio's playing it - how do you deal with that?" Stoute said.
"I have to be totally honest," Nas said. "I didn't feel anything about Chingy or anybody else's success during that time. Tell you the truth, it kind of gave me some time off. Time off to not have to keep coming and coming and coming. It just balances things - you can't have everything… It is messed up for that real stuff when the pop-fluff stuff is everywhere; that does damage to things. But when you have faith in the artists that you love, you know they gonna pull through and bring something to the table."
Stoute had similar reasons for exiting the music business at the age of 29 to start a new career in advertising. "You couldn't know what was good and what was garbage, and I can assume you were going through that as an artist," he said to Nas. "When artists who are not as talented or executives who are not as talented are getting big deals and all these things, they're bragging about it. And I'm saying, 'but why them?' Is it because it's new? It's the same thing like a Ponzi scheme. At some point it runs out and somebody's gonna get caught with the bag. And I didn't wanna be around when that took place."
Even before "Hip Hop Is Dead," Nas had begun to lose faith in his genre after 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. were both slain within months of each other in 1996 and 1997. "At some point I felt the whole thing was dead after Biggie and Pac were killed. Once I knew we'd never get a chance to see where they were headed, it just died for me for a bit there."
Nas credits his 2010 album and tour with Damian Marley with getting his career as well as his personal life back on track. "The reggae tour - what made you go there?" Stoute asked. "Cause I got divorced," Nas said, referencing his split from ex-wife Kelis in 2009.
Nine years ago, 50 Cent burst into mainstream hip-hop -- with the help of co-executive producer Eminem -- on his proper debut, "Get Rich or Die Tryin.'" The album's street credibility was depicted through refreshing gangsta lyricism and marketable singles, and earned 50 his first Billboard 200 No. 1 album.
Fast forward to Friday night (March 16), when 50 Cent revisited the successful album with an anniversary concert, 'Shady 2.0,' at SXSW. At 11 p.m. 50 Cent walked onto the stage of Austin Music Hall wearing a camouflage bulletproof vest, reminiscent of 50's persona circa '03.
50 ran through "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" at a fast pace, at times forgetting his lyrics and laughing it off. Fortunately, close friend and G-Unit member, Tony Yayo, was right by 50's side, never missing a beat or a forgotten verse.
Mid-show, 50's introduced his artists Previous Paris and Kid Kid to SXSW. Both performed "Do Your Thing," while 50 changed is 'fit for the second time.
Eminem, rumored to make an appearance from the moment the concert was announced, indeed joined 50 on stage. Both rhymed to "Patiently Waiting" alongside each other, and later closed the show together with 50's freestyle, "Till I Collapse," "Don't Push Me" -- sans Lloyd Banks -- and Eminem's own "Crack a Bottle."
"We out of here," Eminem said after thanking those in attendance. "I want to stay," 50 then said, with his signature smile, before walking off as well.
The importance and utility of mobile apps was the topic of the day at the "Bringing The Arena To Your Phone" panel at day four of SXSW Music. Moderated by Will Mills (director of music content, Shazam), the panel consisted of Anthony Volodkin (founder/CEO, The Hype Machine), Eric Garland (co-founder, Big Champagne and General Manager, Live Nation), Matthew Adell (CEO, Beatport), and Alexander Kisch (SVP, business development, VEVO).
The panel focused mostly on the reason behind app creation. "Unless you're solving a problem or creating a great experience, no one will care," said Garland, who joined the panel in warning against creation of technology for technology's sake, rather than to actually address an issue. That's where apps such as VEVO's video streaming app carved out their utility; by allowing for a simple way for its users to stream the video content they were looking for. VEVO's mobile app has been downloaded over 14 million times, said Kisch.
Some of the biggest growth areas in mobile app development are tied to social aspects - connecting with people, geolocating events, and getting real-time updates of what is going on at the venues and with the people around you. At SXSW, Live Nation is field testing an invite-only app called Laminate that essentially augments some of the scheduling apps at SXSW - such as SXSW Go, or Sched.org - to tell the user what is happening in the next 90 minutes and filters events by proximity and personal recommendations, and tells the user how to get there.
"Those small, specific problems are what we're trying to solve," said Garland.
March 18, 2012 | Person ON the Street Man on the Street: Fred Mills, Editor, Blurt Magazine
Fred Mills, Editor, Blurt Magazine Billboard.biz: What's the best band/artist you've seen yet? Fred Mills: Bruce Springsteen is the default answer but if you're referring to a band, I'd say Cotton Mather- they were just tight as hell.
Who are you most excited to see? Death of Samantha- I've been a huge fan of theirs for a while but I'd never seen them back in the day and like most writers, I have a soft spot about anything from Cleveland.
What's the best party you've been to? This is self-promoting but the Blurt Party, which is the only one I've been to! It was magnificent, modesty aside.
What's the best panel or keynote you've seen? Producing Ecstacy. Even for a non-tech person like me, it was eye-opening to hear about how music production can enhance or take away from music.
What's the best gossip you've heard? I'm out of the loop for that but I found out beforehand that the Sidewinders were reuniting. I didn't believe it until I ran into the singer and he confirmed that. They did one unannounced show and they were great.
Who have you met/do you hope to meet that you're really excited about? Ran into the dB's and re-established old friendships with them. It had been about 10 years.
Who/what do you think people will be buzzing about after SXSW 2012 is over? Speculation about how much was the cost to construct the giant Doritos machine on the street.