Yesterday, the Austin American-Statesman‘s music blog mused about new language in the contract for booking agents placing artists in the South By Southwest Festival. The language stated flat-out that artists should make their official showcases–and not the day parties that result in things like Peter Bjorn & John playing 85 shows over the course of four days–their first priority, and to not play “an excessive number of other performances” during the week. Could this, the Statesman wondered, be the beginning of SXSW trying to curb the number of day parties happening while people in town for the festival are blowing off panels? The contract reads as follows:
Exclusivity: Invited acts agree to the following:
A. Artist will not perform any other public shows in Austin between March 12-16, 2008. Public shows are defined as
1) Shows that charge admission to the general public
2) Shows advertised in any media available to the general public.
3) Shows that occur between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m.
B. Artists agree that their official SXSW showcase is their first priority, and to not undermine the success or inhibit attendance at their showcase by accepting invitations for an excessive number of other performances.
C. Artist agrees to notify SXSW of any and all other performances during SXSW so SXSW can avoid scheduling conflicts.
It was the “advertised in any media available to the general public” clause that got me–I mean, aren’t blogs, in theory if not in pageviews, available to the general public? And don’t they advertise the crap out of their SXSW parties? Anyway, to parse the language, I buttonholed an anonymous industry source who has worked closely with the festival in the past for a quick IM chat.
mauraatidolator: So i have a question about this.
“Shows advertised in any media available to the general public”?
industryheavy: Basically SXSW gets furious if you advertise a day party in the Statesman or something. but if you think about it, they usually aren’t–I mean, some do
mauraatidolator: Yeah, but the clause says “any media available to the general public.” I mean … Internet?
industryheavy: I get the feeling that SXSW means the Statesmen, the Chronicle, etc.
industryheavy: The most important clauses are A2 and B, which tie together. Example: [blogger party] Hot Freaks can take out ads, perhaps, but it is frowned upon for labels and bands–I have known of bands getting in hot water. As for repercussions, I don’t know; this policy is no different than it ever has been. Have you ever heard of them shutting down a party? They have told me that they know day parties are gonna be there and they can’t do shit about it, but they want to re-emphasize that their convention is the raison d’etre.
industryheavy: Now this year may be different; in past years this is how it has been. But with day parties spiraling out of control, maybe they are trying to assert themselves.
industryheavy: That is all speculation, but I’ve never heard about them doing anything like shutting down a party.
mauraatidolator: It seems like the day parties have mushroomed, esp with bloggers getting in on the act.
industryheavy: Yeah, but they’ve been there for a long time. And remember, SXSW dictates the best slots, so they can “punish” certain bands that way.
industryheavy: They honestly do a remarkable job of running that festival–it runs on schedule and with minimal hassle, compared to CMJ and others.
industryheavy: So no, I don’t see why they would ever shut down a day party.
industryheavy: BUT what if day parties started getting covered more in the Chronicle and the Statesman–what if they were on the schedules those two papers publish? SXSW would lose complete control. I think the “no ads” thing is to assert control over the local media, which is pretty important (I know I use the newspapers’ schedules every day). I think SXSW is gonna lose control, or already has.
industryheavy: I think they should coopt the day parties, and just start everything at 2
mauraatidolator: haha well i’m sure bloggers would love to be co-opted ;)
Is SXSW cracking down? [Austin Music Source]