ASCAP @ SXSW 2018 Recap

By Erik Philbrook, ASCAP Editor in Chief  •  March 20, 2018

With song camp, panel discussions and endless knockout performances, ASCAP was out in full force at the world’s largest music festival and conference. 


Before the cleanup crews even started sweeping the streets in Austin, TX on March 18th, the 2018 edition of the South by Southwest conference and festival, the annual gathering of the technology, film and music industry, had established itself, yet again, as an essential summit of what’s happening both culturally, intellectually and socially around the world. Over 10 days, more than 70,000 registered attendees experienced the cutting-edge spirit that has always defined this event from the start.

The music festival consistently draws more than 2,000 performing international artists, and ASCAP’s mission has always been to focus on music discovery and where music begins: with the songwriters and composers at its heart. This year ASCAP cast a wide net and delivered its message in a variety of ways.

First and foremost ASCAP members from across the musical spectrum and at all levels of their careers dominated stages across the city, from small clubs to large outdoor concerts. From Stax recording artists Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, who headlined the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Auditorium Shores to breakout star Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell (both appearing at the upcoming ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO) who jammed at Vevo’s show to local Austin hero Erika Wennerstrom of the Heartless Bastards, who debuted songs from her forthcoming solo album at Stubbs as part of Rachael Ray’s Feedback Food and Music Celebration, ASCAP music thrilled thousands upon thousands of attendees in every corner of Austin.

For the second year, ASCAP sponsored SXSW Songs, an international songwriting camp held during the festival. This year’s camp ran from Sunday, March 11 through Tuesday, March 13 at Austin’s Arlyn Studios. It concluded on March 14th with a wrap-up panel “Co-Write,” featuring some of the participants along with an industry event and listening party showcasing the completed songs at the House of Scandinavia.

SXSW Songs featured a slate of 19 participants, including several ASCAP writers, hailing from seven countries. Each day the participants co-write with other writers and record their songs. The co-writers change from day to day, so that by the end of the camp there are numerous songs featuring an incredible hybrid of creativity. The SXSW Songs lineup is selected by an advisory board drawn from international management companies, music publishers and performing rights societies.

The ASCAP Urban team presented its On the Come Up: SXSW Edition showcase at Half-Step on Rainey Street, featuring an incredible lineup of some of today’s hottest rap, hip-hop and urban music artists. The event, hosted by DJ C. DeVone, featured Prince Charlez, Taliwhoah, Zoey Dollaz, DaniLeigh, Erick Lottary, Chris Stylez, Re Lxuise, Kris Kasanova and Cheeks Bossman.

At the convention center, ASCAP was well represented on panel discussions. ASCAP Associate Director of Pop Rock Membership Tim Maginnis, spoke on the panel “How to Get the Best Music for Your Project” and ASCAP composer Board member Joel Beckerman moderated a fascinating panel called “Mars or Bust: Designing the Future of Humanity,” that explored the multi-sensory sensations that could make up life in the future and how we can get a taste of this now through entertainment experiences.

SXSW conference programming on songwriting also featured Golden Globe and Grammy-nominated - and ASCAP Award-winning - songwriter Savan Kotecha in a featured interview, where he shared his personal look into the business of successful songwriting.

Kotecha’s appearance underscored the ultimate importance of this enduring festival. Whether it is innovative new technology, a riveting video game, a memorable film or a song that will touch the lives of billions, SXSW shines a light where real power resides: in creative people.


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