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SXSW 2018: Day 1

Arriving at the Austin Convention centre in downtown Austin (the main hub of SXSW) for the first time is actually a pretty daunting experience. There is so much going on, thousands of people all with passes hanging around their necks and staring at mobiles, and the place is so vast it is hard to know where to start.


My first job was to pick up my Platinum pass (issued as I am a speaker this year) at the vast registration hall where you also get issued with a free tote bag and drinks coupon.


There are numerous panels every day and I was glad that I had done some research beforehand and favourited a few for my first day. There was quite an informing one called “What is a music supervisor”, and one of the biggest things that music supervisors do not like is composers and artists coming to them with tracks with incomplete contracts or missing details about the track registrations.


My final panel of the day was all about music and the brain, and it was fascinating. A researcher at Google has been working on artificial intelligence in music and produced a program that can harmonise a melody in the style of JS Bach – not by using pre-determined algorithms or the rules of music but purely by AI.


An example was played where using AI the computed had harmonised the top line of a Bach Chorale and the result was impressive (but with quite a few fundament errors) and thankfully nowhere near the originality and beauty as the original by JS Bach. Composers have jobs that are safe for now!


While I am in Austin I am staying with a stunt man called Dr Danger…yes really I am. He is the number one stunt man in the USA for pyrotechnics and car stunts.

To be continued…

What is SXSW?


South by Southwest is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. Every year around 18000 artists and bands apply to play at the festival. There are panels and presentations throughout the day and exhibition halls demonstrating the latest technologies. Individuals and companies attend from all around the world.