SXSW 2010 Quick Hits: “Successful SXSW,” “Caution Before Signing” music panels

The weather was perfect for the first three days, with sunny highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s, making Austin feel like Rock ‘N Roll Paradise Vacation Land. I started off with the opening panel, “Successful SXSW: The Tao of the Conference” with CD Baby founder Derek Sivers. The panel seemed aimed at the musicians themselves, with Sivers encouraging them to get out and network and promote themselves. Sivers said the most essential point in SXSW networking is the follow-up after the conference. “Persistence is polite,” said Sivers, citing the tale of one label rep who said they didn’t respond to anyone who didn’t call at least three times first.

At 12:30 pm, I checked out the “Caution Before Signing” panel with entertainment attorneys Brian Rosenblatt and John Strohm, who went over the details of what bands should be looking for before signing contracts. The panel was run as a hypothetical scenario for a band, and it seemed like a very useful panel indeed for musicians on the verge, but less compelling if you’re not in that category. One example cited of how contractual issues can become pivotal down the line was Cadillac’s use of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” for a commercial on their “Break on Through” campaign a few years ago. The company originally wanted to use The Doors’ “Break on Through,” but the group’s band agreement required unanimous approval for such licensing and Jim Morrison’s estate voted against it, feeling Jim would not approve. The role of the band manager was also discussed, with the attorneys clarifying that it is to “find ways to exploit the creative output of the artist, not to book gigs, which is an agent’s job.”


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