Will New Owners Revive SXSW?

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Greetings from D.C., where I’m teaching The Streaming Revolution at American University’s Kogod School of Business. We’re past the halfway point this semester and I’m happy with how things have turned out so far.

This week, we’re diving into short-form video and the “Tiktokification” of content. We’ll cover everything from Vine, to Snapchat, to Musicl.ly, to Instagram Reels. We’ll even get into Triller and YouTube Shorts’ history to date. The point of the class is to help students understand the history of short-form video and how it led to what’s happening now, so they’ll have robust POVs on where things are going next.

Our guest lecturer today is one of the greatest curators of modern times, Tuma Basa. Tuma not only created the #1 playlist in the world, Rap Caviar but is now at YouTube doing remarkable things as the head of Black Music & Culture. His philosophy of “Curativity” is a constant reference of mine and I’m grateful he can join in person, especially on such a big day for streaming culture. Spotify’s Stream On event happens at 1pm ET and we’re expecting a flurry of game changing announcements. Coupled with Netflix’s innovative approach to live-streaming the Chris Rock show, it’s been quite an exciting few days.

Next week is Spring break at American University and, in many ways, it’s spring break for the tech and music industry, too. Yes, I mean SXSW 🙂

Now, I’ve voiced my SX grievances in the past, but I can admit it was VERY impactful in my career back in the day. SXSW was dubbed the epicenter of innovation for a reason. Maybe it’s lost its edge, or maybe Austin simply no longer needed it. Or, maybe it really did become a complete racket with a lot of noise. But post pandemic and with new ownership, could it be revived? Worst case scenario, it’s a really fun place to connect with friends and colleagues…and to eat!

The world feels like it’s changed a lot since I was last at SXSW, but the importance of meeting up IRL and exchanging ideas will never diminish. And when it comes to the intersection of music and tech, there still aren’t many events as all-encompassing as SXSW. So giddy-up, city slickers. The telegram groups are already rockin’ and I touch down on Saturday. Catch me if you can!

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Also published on Medium.