Along with Jessica Thompson, a Grammy-nominated restoration and mastering engineer, and Sean Bohrman, the co-founder of California’s cutting-edge record label Burger Records, we brought our preservation evangelism to a small (but engaged!) crowd of artists, label owners, and casual music fans at the SXSW music conference on March 17.
Our presentation focused on describing the rationale and need for formal preservation plans, especially in the digital age when someone’s entire creative life might exist solely on a hard drive. Jessica addressed the issue from an audio perspective, noting that preserving work may also mean opening the door to monetization down the road. Finally, Sean regaled the crowd with true-life preservation stories of his own label, and how he came to view preservation planning as an undeniable necessity for his life’s work.
We'd like to thank our guests for being on the panel with us, and everyone who showed up and asked wonderful questions!
The sheer scale of SXSW ensures the impossibility of hitting every event and concert at the uberconference, not to mention a major case of the psychological condition known as Fear of Missing Out -- after all, we’re talking about a lineup of 2,200 performances in over 100 venues (and that doesn’t even include the inevitable “unofficial” concerts and parties).
Despite that, we were witness to some amazing events on our trip:
- Keynote speaker Tony Visconti — Known primarily for producing David Bowie, Visconti used his speaking time to lament the current state of the music industry by telling a dystopian story. “Don’t show them what you think they want,” he told the crowd near the end, “be courageous.”
- “Goodbye to Your Tunes? Tech’s Race to Save Music” — Jason Gross, editor of the long-running online magazine Perfect Sound Forever, brought together a cavalcade of experts, including Andy Leach, director of the library and archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and NPR music correspondent Ann Powers, to discuss the state of audio preservation in the age of online streaming.
- I am the Blues — This documentary, also screened in the film festival, journeys through the swamps and juke joints of the Deep South to find the last generation of original blues men (and one woman) still keeping the tradition alive.
- The American Epic Sessions — Screened as an entry of the SXSW Film Festival, the American Epic Sessions shows top American artists recording music directly to disc, using the first-ever electrical recording system developed in the 1920s.