#SXSW Serendipity, Stamina, Survival


SXSW was insane.

At my Future 15 presentation, I had the stage between Ben Relles, YouTube’s Next New Networks founder, and Evan Spiridellis, Jib Jab Founder, and focused my talk on counting clicks for conversion and capitalizing on the moment of monetization.  But I didn’t shock the monkey until I called out a prediction that after the IPO, Facebook will flip the switch, seed its billion users with ready-to-spend wallets native on every page, and become the world’s largest broadcaster, retailer.  Global domination – end game – Facebook!  Making FB shares on SecondMarket more attractive by the day.

Then I got into a very public and intense debate with Sir Bob Geldof on the destructive nature of filters.  The audience seemed mesmerized by the elegance of this man’s delivery and confused his legend with being in the band Pink Floyd rather than in the movie The Wall.  But I couldn’t just be a witness, I had to call him on what he was arguing for – a muzzle on the voice of the people.  I said you made it in an era of A&R, now everyone can be a star.  He said, it’s all garbage.  I said who is to judge, fans make the celebrity.  He said, you’re wrong and bloggers are bunk, I looked around for Mike Arrington, and said you’re wrong, just wait til Sean Parker buys Warner Music Group, he then said you’re wrong and I got the mic, well it went something like that, they got it on audio.  More impressive keynotes were Chris Poole of 4chan, Felicia Day of The Guild and now Dragon Age Redemption (Yes FTC, I work for EA), and Seth Priebatsch of SCVNGR (although I missed that one).

It was schwag-o-rama on the trade show floor with QR codes everywhere.  One guy was scanning every code he could find, I asked him what information was it taking from his phone, he said I don’t care email, cell number, whatever, it’s all public – certainly an interesting insight on what a fan is willing to give up for items of perceived value.  Best of Schwag winners were I Heart Radio for their snowboard hat, matching tee and headphones, Mississippi music for its harmonica, and Aquent for its gorgoeous Dickies Jacket.  Honorable mention went to The Creative Circus whose Scribbly Lion tee was stolen proving just how nice it was.

Lastly, there were the interviews I didn’t get, uh but sort of did, including Boxer Rebellion, Chikita Violenta, Dreaming In Stereo, Experimental Aircraft and Foo Fighters.  I have the pics to prove it but I doubt I’ll ever post the complete text.  After a very wild encounter with Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters at 3am at the Four Seasons when my iPhone froze on a tweet and set in motion a series of cascading events, the only interviews I got around to publishing were with Mister Heavenly, http://www.spinner.com/2011/03/20/mister-heavenly-honus-honus-sxsw-2011/ and DeVotchKa, http://www.spinner.com/2011/03/19/devotchka-sxsw-2011/


You really have to plan SXSW in advance, RSVP to everything, enjoy lines, love food trucks (yum), believe the rumors (most are true, the rest are funny), bring earplugs, sunhats, respirators (if sensitive to smoke), and noise-cancelling headsets (even for the best of the Austin hotels).  But when you arrive, know that you’ll make it to nothing and have to seize the story where it gets you like when Conan O’Brien suddenly appeared before me after I was nearly knocked out in the elevator of the Four Seasons by a grouchy ole man swinging his cane.  No kidding.

During SXSWi, you could throw a taco and hit a notable – within a one block radius I bumped into Rainn Wilson (The Office), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, Greylock, Groupon), Tom Conrad (Pandora), reps from Saul Zaentz Fantasy Studios, the owner of Pulse, and the Squarespace guys (whose free BBQ truck queue was the most interesting).  Many thanks to my SF friends for making SXSW Interactive a place where I knew people.  Really enjoyed the Diggnation party at Stubbs with VJ Mike Relm and it was great catching up with Jay Adelson (Rev3, Digg, SimpleGeo), Mark Friedlander (SAG New Media) and Mark Gantt (Sony Crackle’s The Bannen Way).  Yet, as smart as people are at SXSWi, I was surprised to be the only one wearing a Pi shirt on 3.14.  By contrast, at SXSW Music I pretty much knew noone and found myself clinging to my SPIN friends until I ventured away from Hotel San Jose and made new friends amidst the tattoed and pierced skinny jeans crowd at W.

Even on the flight from PAX to SXSW where my plane had mechanical failure and a mid-air medical emergency which turned the flight back to Boston where then a passenger panic and nationwide JetBlue computer crash grounded us for hours, I got to bond with a VC and filmmaker, and made it on the VIP list for the SXSWi Crowdtap party.

As it turns out some of the bands do check Twitter for sentiment as the MTV Vintage VJ who interviewed Duran Duran asked “Why didn’t you play Rio? Reflex?” and other questions straight off the stream.  So watch what you tweet if you don’t want to hurt feelings.

You know there was so much more I’m exhausted remembering it.  Never made it to Power Plant and that was ok as the big surprise was Kayne, not Radiohead as retweets about them at a food court with Lindsay Lohan and Michael Cera had everyone rofl….

Loved blogging SXSW for Spinner and hope to do it all over again next year.

One Response to “#SXSW Serendipity, Stamina, Survival”

  1. 1 Blogging Digital Media Events Worldwide « Content NOW

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