Tag Archives: Austin

SXSW 2014 Recap – Julia’s Journal

Julia Cummings is Director of Music Services at PlayNetwork. She oversees the team of Music Supervisors who design in-store playlists (as well as on-line, video syncs, and beyond). With a background in radio production (KEXP) and Music Supervision herself, Julia has created the soundtracks for iconic fashion brands from Anthropologie to MAC Cosmetics.

SXSW is a sensory assault. A mad maze of music, music, people, music, lines, late-night food truck visits, sketchy bathrooms, drunk meanderers, and spontaneous jams in the middle of 6th street. Surprises. Navigating blocks and kids banging on buckets and the strangest strangers to catch as many shows as possible or just sitting on a dirty curb because your feet are so sore you JUST NEED TO SIT.  Then there is the dancing, the swaying, and the all-out full body listening to live performances- one after the next.

Day 1:

Check-in. Meet Susie Brown, from Lively formerly of PlayNetwork, for dinner.  Then journey off Rainey St. near the food cart court. Kind of a cool night. Cool enough to wish I brought a jacket, but not too cold for a Northwesterner. Very glad I catch moody set of Icelandic electronic (?) singer-songwriter Ásgeir at Blackheart, the understated one-man band, Chet Faker, and the ever, forever suave Aloe Blacc at Clive Bar.  Really felt like all Soul. All night.

Day 2:

I hit Mellow Johnny’s in the afternoon and see the beautiful KEXP people and stunning Dum Dum Girls set that started off sleepy and ended expectedly rollicking.

Panel: “You Got Music, You Got Tech, Now Build Me Products”
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_MP17552

Hit the Hype Hotel party and to catch an amazing set by Painted Palms. If you like their record you must see this band live! Then headed down to the FedEx showcase with the amazing creative team of Angelica and Tamara managing the event with Filter.

Damon Albarn rooftop magic. Indescribably perfect really.  Enough said.

In the deepening hours of the morning Kelis shuts it down, literally, at Clive Bar. Back-up singers and horns in full effect. Party. “Milkshake” mid-set was also a surprise. The sound guy pulls the plug amid a song called “A Capella,” which seemed staged at first as the singers took out their monitors and just kept singing, the horns quieting down… But they really had shut it down because it was getting so late!

Day 3: Lady Gaga keynote. This is when things get weird. Waiting in the cavernous auditorium. Lady Gaga was ethereal, all flour-dreadlocked with garbage bags so sheer she didn’t come out in any of my pictures. I think she is genuine even all wrapped-up in cellophane. At least she is trying to do something: inspiring young people to be inspired. It’s not about selfies, but self-love. After hearing her speak, I think that is a genuine aspiration.

Then it was show time for a panel I was asked to participate in! In-Store Retail Radio: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_MP20506
The discussion centered around the impact of in-store radio on customer’s shopping experiences and how this exposure can lead to fans for emerging artists. Key point: we may be in the B2B world, but artists and labels are our clients as well.

Lucius transformed the sterile convention center into a blissful uprising. Caught the end of Jungle’s set. This song basically stuck in my head for the rest of the week, if not month…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JkDzNOgO3U. Saw  and although her voice was waning, she was still a firecracker steaming up the stage at Clive Bar. British singer Sam Smith (who had a shot to fame as the guest vocalist on Disclosure’s 2012 UK hit “Latch”- noting he was bartending 2 years ago…) sang a heartfelt, short set at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary- always a lovely venue for a final transcendental moment and another opportunity to rest one’s feet and rehydrate after trekking the blocks. Ended the night with a perfectly raucous and insanely fun show by my friends on Bar/None Records The Front Bottoms. Fun to end up in a pit of kids bouncing around, sweating, and singing along.

Day 4:

I catch Belle & Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch talking about his new film, “God Help The Girl”, a musical he wrote and directed http://www.godhelpthegirl.com/about/

Catch ANTI- band Saintseneca’s lovely Flatstock set. Stopped by the British Embassy Showcase and caught The Crookes then headed back to our FedEx showcase to see the end of Gardens & Villa and check in on the ass-kicking Creative Strategy team of Angelica & Tamara again. After dinner (ahem, one of the best lobster rolls ever!) at Garbo’s food truck and a sunset bat siting, I go back to the British Embassy to catch San Fermin, Temples, and stick around for the surprise that is Fat White Family. All great performances, all around. Closed out the night catching our Director of Music Strategy Sean Horton spin records at the Lively closing night event.

See you next year, you wily town you.

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SXSW in the Rearview Mirror

Emotional withdrawal is an interesting feeling.

Putting volumes of effort, preparation, energy and soul into a project and the people surrounding it, blazing through five intense days of music, meetings and media, and somehow managing to document it all, when it is all over leaves me with two distinct feelings… relief and reward. As our PlayNetwork teams decompress and recover from the mad revelry of SXSW, I find myself reflecting on one thought.

We rocked it!

At multiple points during the week, I looked around our venue and within arms length were PlayNetwork crew, team, clients, board of directors, industry partners, artists, labels and fans… all unifying around a music and cultural experience that we created and delivered. It was a truly an awesome feeling.

Our clients are ecstatic. The venue was blown away. We moved the needle. We kept our word. We built new “trusted partnerships”. And we made our presence known at SXSW.

I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of such a kick $&:@ PlayNetwork team.

Next year…bigger and better.

Oh…And I really miss Audri & Aaron.

John Crooke, Sr. Director Creative Development – PlayNetwork

 

SXSW 2011 – Day Three

As I stare into my iPhone to collect my thoughts…and with 4 shots of espresso coursing through my veins…I am now aware that already almost 48 hours have passed since my last post. But considering the massive scale of this production, and total success yesterday of our maurices Small Town Sound showcase at Speakeasy and our Girls Rock Showcase at Cedar Street, it was worth the delay. The venue was packed. Audri & Aaron’s SXSWdebut, literally, brought more than a few folks on the floor to tears. Sick of Sarah and Vanity Theft absolutely blew the roof off. And the Bangles were amazing, rocked it, and brought it all home to a sold out house!

AND… We shot an interview and PlayLive live performance with Sir Bob Geldof at Austin City Limits. You have no idea how cool this was. Indescribable!

AND…We shot an interview with Moby from 28 floors high overlooking Austin at night…and then captured him DJ’ing to a packed house. Brilliant!

AND FINALLY…We had a private PlayNetwork and maurices industry party during the Girls Rock Showcase to celebrate this beautiful marriage that lasted into the wee hours. Guests included Jamie Lauren from Top Chef Season 5. Awesome person and knows how to “place an order” with the chef…and wait for it…Jon Hamm! Oh yeah: ‘Don Draper’ himself. We had a Gibson and toasted to another day of great music.

…and our PlayNetwork crews captured every moment and every note.

Day 4 is underway. Speakeasy showcase again with Fontana. More about that on Day 5.

Cue my heightened excitement and anticipation…Times 2.

John Crooke, Sr. Director Creative Development – PlayNetwork

SXSW 2011 – Day Two

Beautiful madness…

The Bangles arrive tonight. “Small Town Sound” winners Audri & Aaron got in this morning. The crowd is swelling. We just shot video of Jackson Harris, Letlive,  and are in the thick of shooting the Red Robin Austin TX  street band with more shoots on deck for tonight. Looks like we might be shooting and recording a private performance by BOB GELDOF at Austin City Limits tomorrow night. HUGE!!

The storm before the storm. More to come…

John Crooke
Sr. Director Creative Development / PlayNetwork