Newsletter: Our 6 biggest takeaways from SXSW

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Hey readers! Andrew here. Welcome to a special edition of Internet Insider.

We’re wrapping up our coverage of South by Southwest today. We hope you’ve enjoyed our special edition newsletters. Please let us know what you thought! 

Today, our team of reporters who have spent the last week on the ground are going to share with you some of their thoughts and biggest takeaways as the conference ends. 

—A.W. 


Daily Dot SXSW Newsletter Logo USE.jpg?auto=compress&fit=scale&fm=pjpg&h=232&ixlib=php 3.3

A piece of art at SXSW 2022 that says 'Creator'

The Daily Dot’s biggest takeaways from SXSW 2022 

Sadie Jean, 19, is a Taylor Swift disciple who performed three very moving breakup songs Friday at SXSW on her guitar. This was after a shocking panel moderated by TikTok’s Head of Music Corey Sheridan. She released her first song to Spotify in December and now boasts 2 million monthly listeners. She has 482,000 TikTok followers and carefully considers how to fit her music into shareable videos, including a dance challenge that rapper Lil Yachty participated in. She rehearses while live-streaming and will debut new songs to her TikTok audience the day she writes them. 

It seems alien to an old person like me: This notion of making art while you are, to use another dang buzz phrase, connecting with your community. It also seems not great for creating art because in theory you are not in a silo, expressing your inner anguish.

I think of pop music as being forever shattered, replaced by a million fragments of random viral sounds. That is wrong, however. TikTok exacerbates viral music like no other platform since Myspace, plain and simple. And as TikTok-fueled viral bands like Wet Leg proved, you don’t need to be a gimmick. You can just write a good song and get lucky on TikTok.

And while Sadie Jean’s methods mark a stark generational divide, they are no less astonishing. Her SXSW performance of viral song “WYD Now?” has a stratospheric pop sensibility rooted in love. I get it, NFTs are going to help people sell their commerce. But none of that will matter if the song doesn’t make you feel like you’re listening to a Discman, eating square pizza in the cafeteria.

— Ramon Ramirez

🟢

During several SXSW events, I heard presenters say the same line: “It’s great to be back.” They were referring not only to SXSW, but to all in-person festivals and conferences. SXSW 2022 was a test: After two years of Zoom meetings and working from home, could we go back to large-scale IRL events? Would these types of events still hold relevance

After more than a week of attending events daily, I can say that the answer to both questions is a yes—but with some caveats. While thousands of people were able to attend SXSW, there are many who weren’t able to attend for a number of reasons, including the risk of contracting COVID-19. The SXSW guidelines state that masks are required in conference rooms, but in most panels and indoor events I attended, few people wore masks. (Besides the theaters hosting film premieres).

It’s not exactly surprising. People were excited to see friends and colleagues they haven’t seen in person for a while. No one wanted to social distance or wear masks. But it does leave out immunocompromised people who can’t take risks right now. This year’s SXSW was a hybrid experience, and many talks and films were available online. That is great, but we need to continuously think of ways to make conferences and festivals more inclusive.

Tiffany Kelly

 🟢

“I’ve never seen, at least in the last decade, a sort of technological innovation that’s as divisive within tech,” journalist Jacob Silverman said of the blockchain at his crypto skepticism panel with Ben McKenzie and Edward Ongweso Jr.

That sentiment was alive and well all week at SXSW, leaving many heads, including this reporter’s, spinning in the process. Is the future of the internet on the blockchain? I think it’s hard to say considering all of the current issues with the technology including it’s costliness, difficulty to understand, and environmental impact.

However, observing the hard push into Web3, including chatter from Web2 king Mark Zuckerberg, I think it’ll be hard for people, especially creators, to ignore.

Entering this week with harsh skepticism, I’m leaving more neutral. I understand—in theory (huge caveat here)—how blockchain technology could be useful for independent content creators who often get screwed by social media companies.

However, I caution people getting into the space from getting totally Web3-pilled, a sentiment I felt creeping up on me once or twice this week. Hype is intoxicating, but with all of the rug pulls, environmental harm, and literal crypto scams that have happened, it’s crucial to understand the risks on the blockchain in order to avoid financial or reputational damage.

Daysia Tolentino

🟢

SXSW and I seem to have a love-hate relationship. My first shot at the fest was supposed to be in 2020, and we all know what happened there. When I logged online to cover it in 2021, I didn’t quite get the full experience. More than any of the individual takeaways from the panels, interactive “activations,” films, and musical performances, filling out a space with thousands of other people has been the most memorable feat of the past week.

Nothing beats the large boom of an entire audience’s chuckle at a screening, or the pure energy of the sweaty bodies gathered to catch a set. To get a little personally philosophical, I’ve also been reminded how much these spaces make me a better writer and reporter, as the chance conversations and reactions I’ve experienced inject a lively color into my life and work. As a SXSW newbie, it’s hard for me to say what this year means for the future of the fest, but to me, the sheer opportunity to sit shoulder-to-shoulder and bask in the glow of humanity—even if surrounded by NFT bros at Paris Hilton’s DJ set—is irreplaceable.

— Laiken Neumann

🟢

I left town before the official start of the music portion of SXSW, though I squeezed in plenty over the last week.

One thing that sticks out were the panels (so many panels) about the NFTs and blockchain—and of course, the metaverse. There were panels about the democratization of information and handing full control to creators, self-masturbatory panels outlining a glimmering future built by our tech overlords in which we can do anything, be anyone, anywhere, and the innumerable bounties we will reap by blurring the line between the real world and the digital one. Can you tell I’m a little skeptical?

I can’t help but imagine the toll this blurring will take when it comes to physical and mental health or meaningful human interaction—not to mention issues of security, privacy, and cyberbullying. It doesn’t help that very few of the panels bothered noting the downsides: the environmental impact of bitcoin mining, and the fact that NFTs in the real world have no practical use and are a weird status symbol.

It may not sound like it, but I am coming out of this SXSW with a much more positive view of the metaverse. Mostly because I know it’s inevitable. Also, it’d be cool to show up to a job interview as, like, a unicorn.

Mariam Sharia

🟢

SXSW was a fun bubble. I’m so relieved that no one IRL ever talks to me about NFTs. That being said, I loved the music—MUNA and Magdalena Bay were my favs—and I’m glad the downtown Austin economy got its boost back

Grace Stanley


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✏️ REPORTER’S DIARY

Our team of reporters are on the ground at SXSW in Austin, TX. Here are some of the notable, interesting, and weird things they are seeing.  

🎧 We usually don’t do much music at the Daily Dot (because we cover internet culture), but with this year’s very online crop of TikTok-viral artists at SXSW, we had to stick around for that second wave of the conference. In addition to more great scene reporting, every day, we’ll be updating this sweet Spotify playlist with good songs we heard IRL. Keep it locked.  — Ramon Ramirez

📌 From a Kygo-headlined mini EDM festival in the park to a micro-Rolling Loud in a back of a BBQ joint, music filled the air in Austin last night until the early hours of Saturday morning. It’s incredible that this city can fit so much live music in so few blocks, and it’s magic to hear a plethora of different genres in a single night. — Daysia Tolentino

🍿 Be sure to check out Laiken’s review of Spin Me Round, a vacation comedy movie starring Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza. Laiken felt the film has “wacky twists” that set it apart, but overall it failed “to offer a consistent narrative.” You can read all of the review here. 

🤠 Dolly Parton’s first-ever SXSW performance was one for the books. She played classic hits like “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” and “I Will Always Love You” as the packed audience at ACL Live sang along. Fans cried. It was easy to forget that her performance was part of a Web3 experience and a book launch. Before her nearly hour-long set, Parton sat down with James Patterson, with whom she co-authored the upcoming novel, Run, Rose, Run. Actress Connie Britton moderated the talk. The whole event, a partnership with Fox’s Blockchain Creative Labs, was live streamed on “Dollyverse,” which prompted users to create an Eluvio wallet to watch, participate, and purchase commemorative NFTs. “I’ve just never had the opportunity,” Parton said on her first SXSW performance. “It never came up.” — Tiffany Kelly

Dolly Parton at SXSW 2022

🎼 Ukrainian experimental pop band KAZKA was scheduled to take the stage at Speakeasy tonight, but only vocalist Oleksandra Zaritska made it to Austin. Her bandmates, Mykyta Budash and Dmytro Mazuriak were drafted following Russia’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine. However, Austin musicians have banded together to ensure Zaritska can perform. She’ll be joined by famed guitarist Charlie Sexton, with local rock star Jackie Venson, gritty duo the Ghost Wolves, and soul-inspired Chief Cleopatra also scheduled at the Austin Stands With Ukraine event, a night of emotional solidarity you won’t want to miss if you’re in town. — Laiken Neumann

📱 In a panel on Friday, TikToker and musician Sadie Jean shared how the platform helped her find her audience. Her mega smash “WYD now?” went ultra-viral on TikTok in December, and now she’s working on a full project. TikTok, she says, allows her to test out new songs and see what her fans like—allowing a more direct way of market testing for musicians. — Daysia Tolentino

📸 Rapper Tay Money held her own at the Rolling Loud pop-up festival last night amid a sea of male rappers and male patrons. The Stubb’s crowd was cold during her set but she got the last laugh leaving the stage: “Follow me on Instagram—I know your man does.” — Ramon Ramirez


Now Playing: 🎶“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton🎶

Source: https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/daily-dot-newsletter-internet-insider-sxsw-03-19-2022/

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