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Hey readers! Andrew here. Welcome to a special edition of Internet Insider.
We’re still on the ground at South by Southwest. We hope you’ve enjoyed our special edition emails so far!
Ramon, our news director, writes about how the music industry portion of the conference has dovetailed into the tech talk that dominated the first few days.
Meanwhile, our team of reporters have compiled today’s list of the cool, interesting, and weird things they’ve seen at SXSW.
The creator SXSW
SoundCloud, the most influential indie music platform of the past decade, has a tried-and-true playbook when it comes to South by Southwest. As Erika Leone, VP of brand marketing at SoundCloud puts it, that boils down to: Sending people from the internet down to Texas who can give tips for artists IRL.
Monday at the Mohawk, the SXSW 2022 music industry conversations began in earnest after a weekend of NFT, crypto, Web 3.0, and metaverse hype. For “SoundCloud Next Wav,” however, the classic rules of the conference dovetailed nicely with the tech du jour.
“It’s really about community-building,” Leone told the Daily Dot. “Those are all related.”
And so SoundCloud hosted a hybrid concert/panel/art installation focused on just that. It did so after two years of, as Leone puts it, “digital Zoom captivity” with hopes that nerdy badge attendees can ease back into grabbing a Lone Star and starting up a conversation with a stranger.
As Leone notes, “community is the new currency,” so “Sure, there will always be a new shiny tech element that comes into play.” But for musicians and creators—and as we’re seeing more of at SXSW this time out, musicians who moonlight as creators—the climb to find “your first 1,000 fans” remains the top objective.
The business pieces were punctuated by forward-looking hip-hop from an all-woman bill featuring Miami’s riela, a debut performance by Mexican-American singer Flores, Mid-Atlantic alternative hip-hopper Kelow LaTesha, and Houston rapper Monaleo.
If SXSW 2022 were a homecoming dance, the theme would be “rebuilding real-life connections… during this short window where it seems that even for the music biz, your fortunes will hinge on taking them with you into the metaverse.”
Next door at Patreon’s similarly themed event, the back of Cheer Up Charlie’s is roped off for a “creator lounge.” Monday night, wonderful electronic music by Magdalena Bay and Rachel Collier was the sell. It was basically just a concert, a SX “showcase” as they’re known.
But in 2022—with an urgent understanding that the internet age demands strobe lights and backstories about the light bites to stand out—it can’t just be a show. For it to land in the cultural conversation, creators must post Instagram Stories about this. They get a lounge.
For the self-care enthusiast, it’s no secret that wellness gadgets make it easier to boost your health. But there’s wellness tech, and then there’s “shut up and take my money” wellness tech. These are the splurge-worthy wellness gadgets that will take your overall well-being to the next level.
✏️ 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.
🤳 Our reporter Grace Stanley attended a panel where creator economy gurus talked about mistakes brands make when working with influencers, how to boost diversity and pay transparency, and how creators are dealing with burnout. You can check out her report here.
🔍 Can a satirical conspiracy theory movement promote empathy for people who fall down the rabbit hole in earnest? Perhaps, as the creator of the conspiracy theory Birds Aren’t Real provided a fair case for using comedy to diffuse the perceived monstrosity of conspiracists at large. Stepping out of his wild conspiracist character, Peter McIndoe deconstructed his accidental performance art project in one of the most thoughtful sessions of the conference thus far—a fact he’d deny if you asked him online. — Daysia Tolentino
🐦 “I love birds—I want that on record,” said Birds Aren’t Real founder Peter McIndoe. “I think they’re so cool.” — Mariam Sharia
💧 There were some tears in the house (my tears included) at Jonathan Van Ness and ALOK’s panel on degendering the fashion and beauty industries on Monday. Beyond powerfully telling their stories about reclaiming beauty as gender nonconforming people, they also issued important calls to action to systemically overhaul fashion lines and get involved in the political process in the wake of Greg Abbott’s anti-trans order. — Grace Stanley
🎬 Our Culture Editor Tiffany Kelly reviewed The Lost City, a “charming modern screwball comedy” coming out later this month that stars Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. You can check out her review here.
Now Playing: 🎶“Extra Medium” by The Ergs!🎶