When I first found out I would be coming to SXSW this year, I was a little worried I'd be wandering around solo, looking more than slightly sad and losery. Namely, because I wasn't certain any of the tech reps I work with would have any reason to be here. As it turns out, my fears were for naught, as several digital-music entities that I work with are out in force in Austin, including Zune, Lala, and Rhapsody. (Yay! Friends!) Today, Rhapsody is hosting a six-hour day party replete with live acts, and the good news is that … Read more
Frankly, convergence devices scare me. That's because I have a vested interest in the continued existence of MP3 players and PVPs as standalone devices. Luckily for me, cell phones have mostly failed to offer a truly enjoyable music browsing experience thus far. They don't have a lot of built-in memory (though the increasing inclusion of built-in memory slots is certainly cause for concern...mine, anyway), and their batteries aren't yet robust enough to safeguard against that ever-pressing issue: draining your power rocking out and then being unable to make or receive important phone calls. So I can … Read more
Time Trumpet was the winner for film and TV in this year's South By Southwest Interactive Web Awards this past Sunday (see our coverage here). The site contains a number of faux-futurecentric video clips with historical satire about politics, current events, and celebrities. What's neat is the somewhat experimental interface that blends various media in partial 3D, similar to Universe which we took a look at yesterday. You can sort through it all by episode or subject, and each clip will organize itself into a neat, swirling vortex. It's total eye candy.
Most of the clips about … Read more
You know, I consider myself to be a pretty nice person. I try not to dis anyone...well, except maybe the iPod (of course, that's a thing and not a person). But seriously. Who could make a SXSW panel with the title The Ultimate Music Recommendation Smackdown boring? I'll tell you who: representatives from Pandora, Last.fm, iLike, and MusicIP. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure these guys are perfectly nice--even cool--people, but sheesh. Actually, I should really blame the person who wrote the description for the panel. Allow me to paste that description here: "… Read more
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