Ah, the digital age. It's brought us so much, and without it, I'd be jobless. So for obvious reasons, I'm very appreciative of the existence of digital music. One of its perhaps lesser-known benefits is that with it, any Tom, Dick, or Harry with a sense of rhythm can be a musician. And that's not a bad thing, although certain traditional musicians may beg to differ. Personally, I think anything that adds variety to the creative landscape is positive, although there are certainly exceptions (William Hung? Seriously?) Anyway, if tinkering with audio and making your own … Read more
What do you get when you take the ex-CEOs of Musicmatch, Rio, and iRiver America and lock them in a room with a stack of data about the digital-music landscape? How about a revolutionary new music service and a portable device to go along with it?
Enter Slacker, a company chock full of digital music experts (mostly transplants from Musicmatch and Rio), and its two babies: Slacker.com (an online music service) and the Slacker portable device. That's quite a few Slackers, and it's also the point. As it turns out, about 70 percent of music enthusiasts don't want to spend hours creating the perfect playlists, which means most of you are slackers just like me. (Ha!) To break it down even further, 51 percent of MP3 player users update their content only once a month or less, and 46 percent don't update more often because they don't have time. Several services have aimed to address this issue, such as MTV Urge with its Auto-Mix feature and Rhapsody with Channels. … Read more
Hmm. Is there something wrong with this picture? Is this really where the foremost music and media extravaganza takes place? Yes, this was the view I was treated to as I cabbed away from the airport in Austin, and as the meter ticked up in a never-ending fashion, I thought surely I had made some grave error and booked a hotel 50 miles away from downtown instead of five. But no, the compact city of Austin rises rather like an oasis in the middle of flat and relatively empty Texan plains. I am a mere five miles away, and yet … Read more
Ze Frank is a very, very funny man. He emceed the SXSW Web Awards Sunday night. It was a straightforward awards event and moved along at a nice clip. I learned about a few new companies when I was looking over the list of finalists. I'll be covering them soon.
The two biggest awards were People's Choice and Best of Show. The people voted for an interesting experiment in interactive media: SocialSaga, a site where video clips ask questions, to which users upload their answers. The site currently is used to build pass-along stories, and for people to … Read more
This is my first time at South by Southwest, aka SXSW. I got in late today and missed the panels, but had time to hit the parties and hang out with pals at various bars. News.com's Daniel Terdiman, an old hand at this show, may remain unfazed by the little bit of Burning Man Tesla coil demonstrations, but let's look at this event through the eyes of a newbie. That would be me.
This is a social event, but it's not as casual as you might think. One must plan social engagements carefully, since you have … Read more
AUSTIN, Texas--If you happened to be in Brush Square Park Saturday evening for the South by Southwest edition of Dorkbot, the gatherings of artists and engineers in various cities that work with electronic art, I sure hope you saw the singing tesla coils.
I did, and it was one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. First of all, I love tesla coils--disruptive discharge transformer coils that shoot out bolts of electricity--to begin with. But this took the concept to a whole new level: Two small, side-by-side versions of the electricity-spewing devices that were working in … Read more
AUSTIN, Texas--One question heard more than any other this week at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), "Are you on Twitter?"
I have to admit that I'm not--yet. So, the first time I heard the question, which was literally as I was getting off the plane and encountering dozens of familiar faces, I wasn't sure what these folks were talking about.
But there they were, three people in a small, little circle, all checking their Twitter.
AUSTIN, Texas--A year ago, at the 2006 South by Southwest festival, I noted with a bit of a twinkle in my eye that one way to know the conference was the coolest place on earth was by pressrooms. The standard province of broken down Wintel desktops had been had been blessed with gleaming new MacBook Pro laptops.
And we all know, don't we, that where there are Macs, the cool and hip factors are higher.
So how cool is that, I thought?
At SWSX 2007, however, the coordinators of the pressroom apparently decided that cool was out. How do … Read more
I am joined today by the wonderful Tim Moynihan, who schools me on the tech that I'm definitely going to need at some point in the future (brainwave-reading headgear, anyone?) We also ask the one of the most important questions of the year: Will it blend? A special thanks to CNET member Austin for that one! Here are the rest of the links for today:Robot bloggers on way--Crave frets Veronica plays with WoWWee McDonald's robot Please don't pop the light-up inflatable bar Next week I'll be in Austin for South by Southwest! Hopefully I'll … Read more
The SXSW Music and Media Conference & Festival started in 1987 as a way for independent artists to promote themselves to music industry players, and back then, it had little (if anything) to do with digital audio. Fast-forward 20 years, when many emerging musicians are finding that digital downloads are an excellent way to get exposure. Though physical media is still the number one source of music for many consumers, countless industry insiders think that digital audio is the wave of the future. This and other factors likely contributed to the increasing presence of all things digital at SXSW. Naturally, … Read more