XLR8R takes to SXSW Interactive in search of the latest in music technology.
Every March, the week before the massive South By Southwest Music Festival takes over Austin, Texas, SXSW Interactive brings in thousands of people from the web and new-media worlds to unveil their new products, talk shop, and party ’til the wee hours. It’s grown to become one of the world’s biggest tech events, and XLR8R went to Nerd Spring Break to get the inside scoop on some of the best events and upcoming releases. Here are five of our favorites.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site and service based around 140-character texts (called “tweets”) that can be received by anyone who checks your user profile or subscribes to your “feed.” Twitter has been the talk of two SXSWi conferences now, and while the concept of text messaging the world (“lifestreaming”) gives some the creeps, the tech community has embraced it. Music lovers have too, and web-radio stations are also starting to use it (SomaFM Twitters all its shows). Now anyone can tell the world in real time what track DJ Assault just dropped and who is juking to it on the dancefloor.
2. Threadless Party at The Tap Room
Even though SXSWi had more women in attendance this year than anyone can remember, it didn’t prevent the line for the men’s bathroom from being three times as long at the Threadless/Etsy/Moo/Timbuk2 People Powered Party. Everyone was covered in stickers from Moo (the card-creation website) and decked out in the latest Threadless t-shirts, wiggling it to Austin’s veteran DJ Mel, Chicago’s Flosstradamus, and yours truly (as DJ Kid Kameleon). Plus, Curt of Flosstradamus demoed the full power of FlossyFX, his Serato sample plug-in program built in Adobe AIR that now even works on an iPhone!
Social-networking sites and online communities based around music seem older than the web itself now. But mog.com steps up to correct some of the deficiencies of MySpace, creating a blogging platform that’s tailored towards music discovery. It lets you upload information about your listening habits and post about them, then cross-references those posts in a search-engine-friendly way so that your thoughts about the new Amplive MP3 show up half a dozen places at once on the site, from your blog to Amplive's page to the hip-hop community tracking his music. They’ve also partnered with the Rhapsody network for on-demand streaming tracks so that when someone checks out your profile they can listen to the music you think is important. It’s the future of online music consumption.
As the digital music you want to hear gets spread between every imaginable device, network, web-radio station, and website, keeping track of it all can be a headache (think of all the misnamed files!). Although still in development, Songbird is here to help. It’s an open-source media player that’s partially like iTunes or WinAmp and partially a web-and-media browser like Firefox. It aggregates personal and web-based music collections, as well as podcasts, music videos, and more. Plug-ins and extensions abound, as, according to founder Rob Lord, the goal is to let you play "music you want, from the sites you want, on the devices you want."
5. RVIP/Rubyred/Get Satisfaction
Jonathan Grubb and Kestrin Pantera have been involved in a ridiculous number of cool endeavors. Grubb is the CEO of a hot web consultancy called Rubyred Labs and a co-founder of Get Satisfaction, a discussion space aimed at connecting companies and customers around problems users are having with products. Pantera has appeared in music videos, films, and played cello around the world, in addition to working for Rubyred Labs. But at SXSW they run RVIP, an RV equipped with a karaoke machine and decked out with company shwag that rolls from party to party, shepherding tipsy Ajax programmers and user-experience designers to their next bash Tom Jones style.
Above: Twitter designer Alex Payne shows off the Twitter Japan Launch. Photo by Timoni Grone.