Sound Diplomacy at SXSW 2019

Guest post by Elizabeth Cawein.

I always know I’ve had a good SXSW when I’ve lost count of two things: number of tacos consumed and number of new bands discovered. This year was a win in both categories, so much so that it’s taken me almost a month to recover and put together a proper recap of the highlights!

I was honored to start off my week (truly, about an hour after my plane landed!) at the EU House, sharing some insights as part of a panel discussion on music export strategies.

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This is a topic I’m passionate about, and it was great to have the chance to highlight not just the economic possibilities of music export, but the cultural implications when we create opportunities for artists to build relationships and collaborations across borders.

Later in the week I had the chance to experience GovCity, the first gathering of its kind of innovators in government, and meet some stellar young people as a SXSW music mentor.

And of course, in between all of this I saw as much live music as I could! Naturally, I always love to check out what cities and countries are doing to represent at their own showcases and day parties, and this year was no exception – I took in bands at WeDC House, the Canadian Blast BBQ, Tulsa Boom Factory, and more. Sound Diplomacy was once again involved in organizing the German Haus at SXSW - 7 days of events around music, creative industries and tech - and I was glad to check out the new venue, meet my colleagues from Berlin and enjoy some live music. I also got to stop by the Recording Academy’s block party at the Four Seasons, another annual favorite, for some great live music presented by the Texas chapter. (And in case you missed it, they shared our Music Cities Manual on Grammy.com!).

My SXSW week ended as strong as it started, with our panel on music cities – I was thrilled to see how many people came out to be a part of this conversation at 5 o’clock on the Friday of SXSW, when a cold beer was most certainly awaiting them anywhere else! That turnout – along with so many conversations I had throughout the week with folks from across the U.S. and around the world – is an indication of how important this topic is, and how many people are invested in the music ecosystems in their home towns and cities. I so enjoyed moderating this conversation with Matthew Kowal from Majestic Collaborations, Kara Elliott-Ortega from the City of Boston, and Nick Mattera from Brand USA. You can check our Music Cities Manual here.

Furthermore, as part of 'Music Cities: The Impact of Music and Nightlife on Cities' programme at German Haus, Sound Diplomacy hosted a presentation on Music City Scope - an interactive model developed by the City Science Lab at Hafen City University, Hamburg in collaboration with Sound Diplomacy, Clubkombinat, and the Hamburg Music Business Development Association. Music City Scope is an interactive, digital model that analyzes the relationship between music and urban development and simulates development scenarios. The presentation session was attended by economists, researchers, business associations and night-time economy officials from European and US cities.