Half of the international music industry is currently dusting itself down after the 30th SXSW festival in Austin. In recent years, it has become as important for its focus on new technology as its focus on new music, with the event being the place where new apps and services start to catch fire.
Twitter was the first real recipient of The SXSW Effect in 2007, but others – Foursqaure in 2009, Highlight in 2012 and Meerkat in 2015 – have lit up briefly and then disappeared.
This year, the biggest (or most interesting) tech hype was not about the new per se as the festival partnered with Facebook Live to build a portal for artists playing at the event to offer a window into what is happening there for people around the world.
It aggregates all of the participating artists’ Facebook Live videos in chronological order and also stores them once the feed has ended so they can be accessed on-demand. For a long time, YouTube was the preferred streaming partner of the major US festivals (and even UK events like the Brits), but this is clearly a concerted move by Facebook to stake a claim in live music. The point of differentiation here is also that Facebook Live is focusing on emerging acts whereas the YouTube/festival deals have tended to be dominated by established and headlining acts. The other important point is that YouTube pays (small royalties) on music videos but Facebook still doesn’t.
Looking at the archives after the event, only a handful of acts have got video content on there and the quality of the footage is, in most cases, far from great. Perhaps it didn’t get the push from SXSW it needed and next year, if it happens, will tell a different story. For now, it sits in a box marked “Interesting – But Falling Very Short Of Its Potential”.