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OVERHEARD @ SXSW WEDNESDAY: Attendance Deficit, Cheri Hu, Roblox, Two Busy Meetups, Instagram NFTs And More

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(Hypebot) — As the music segment ramps up, attendance at the first IRL SXSW since 2019 is down. Local media is saying 20%, but sources tell Hypebot that the venerable gathering could be down 30 – 35% from pre-pandemic levels.

I’ve been on the ground since Tuesday afternoon and have been surprised by the lack of crowds almost everywhere. That’s great for social distancing, but bad news for the thousands of businesses and gig workers hoping for a much needed post-pandemic bump.

Cherie Hu

Cheri Hu and the Water & Music DAO

Despite the attendance downturn, Cheri Hu had a strong crowd for her SXSW presentation on the motivation behind and developing structure of the Water & Music DAO.

“It’s a huge shift from individual creator having full operational control to a DAO which has be built around serving emergent community interests,” said Hu of her ongoing web3 journey.

Among Hu’s informative sidebars was about artists exploring social tokens then souring on them and all of web3. “If an artist is offering fans a collective model, how much control do they have?” asks Hu. “Do they have creative control? That’s led to hesitation with in the artistic community.” It’s the kind of problem that can kill a transformative idea before it gets off the ground.

Roblox: The Metaverse is here

The time I spent with Jonathan Vlassopulos, the Global Head Of Music at Roblox will lead to an in depth article soon about the music plans for this massive online gaming community and game creation platform.

But there’s no need to wait for the big takeaway: the metaverse is not coming, it’s here now and it’s time to stake out your claim.

Two very busy Meetups

Dmitri Vietze, the CEO of Rock Paper Scissors and the Music Tectonics Conference hosted the popular Music Tech Networking Meetup where I spotted Kevin Breuner of CD Baby, veteran music tech investor Brian Zisk, conference and startup consultant extraordinaire David Hazen, Josh Greenberg of Goldmill, Jeffrey Pezzuti who is the CEO of Eyelussion, Dallas Jackson of TipSee Music, Stephen Parker of startup accelerator gener8tor, Spencer Elliott of viewstub, the team behind social music app Anthems and many more.

The Agent Promoter Meetup was filled too many agents and promoters to list here. Beyond an exuberance that after two long years live music is finally (fingers crossed) back, what struck me most about this gathering was how much more diverse it was than the last SXSW Agent Promoter Meetups I’ve attended.

Musical gender and ethnic diversity is not new at SXSW, but it is long overdue on the business side.

Many global acts left out

As always, the acts on this year’s SXSW schedule are from all over the world. But COVID related health regulations have turned travel plans into morass of visas, delays, expensive airfares, rapid-tests and red tape.

“Moving six people around out of your home country at any point is a stressful and logistical nightmare. Then you add people having been recovered from COVID,” said Sian Walden, manager of the Wanderers, an Adelaide, Australia, pop duo showcasing at SXSW. “Things are changing rapidly. One thing I was sure of a week ago, I’m not exactly sure will be the case when we fly.” (Billboard)

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