SXSW Music 2014
New Music at SX: Acoustic Cafe + SongCraft
I will organize a panel with Acoustic Cafe's Rob Reinhart about songwriting, collaboration, and the pressure of social media on production schedules. During the previous days of the festival I will write and record songs with a few artists -- the artists will perform these songs during the panel, and we will discuss the process, as well as the new creative demands on modern artists. (We did a test run of this idea last year at SXSW with ANTI-recording artist Sean Rowe, Erin McKeown, Ben Sollee, and others.)
As you may know, Acoustic Cafe is syndicated on 90 stations in the US and on Voice of America worldwide for 3 million listeners a week. With SXSW's permission, Rob will play the songs and portions of the discussion on subsequent episodes of Acoustic Cafe, and we will produce videos of the songs.
While we don't know which artists we would feature in the panel, in the last few weeks Rob has hosted John Mellencamp, Alejandro Escovedo, City and Colour, Josh Ritter, and Aaron Neville.
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Additional Supporting Materials
- The Beatles released four albums in the first two years of their recording career, yet by 2000 it was not unusual for a big act to take 5 years or more between studio releases -- do you see this trend reversing now, and if so, why?
- A lot of artists I talk to say they feel pressured by management and label to engage more with social media -- how much does your activity on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. feel like a genuine extension of your work and your voice...and how much does it feel like a necessary marketing chore?
- For those of you who feel social marketing is largely a chore, is an exercise like this more appealing because you know it provides posts for your fan base? Does a calculation like that ever make you do things artistically-speaking you wouldn't otherwise do?
- Each of you wrote a new song for this panel in a very short period of time -- is collaboration within a strict time limit something you've ever done before? How worried were you as you went into this? How did the writing itself feel, and how did the songs turn out? Do the songs feel true to your songwriting voice, or do they feel like an amalgamation of your voice and another artist's?
- Every artist has different areas of specialization and passion -- some artists, like Phish, seem to enjoy playing live more than recording, some (like Matthew Sweet), vice versa. Other artists, like Moby, excel at working behind the scenes in the industry. How do each of you balance your areas of preference and specialization with the things that are less natural to you?
Ben Arthur, Musician and songwriter, Mummery Publishing