Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stone cold Austin

Last year we posted about the odd amount of UK press surrounding what is, after all, a fairly specialised event, South By South West. The Rakes were even on the BBC 6 O'Clock News, you may recall, and Victoria Newton filed reports that only praised the British bands. All this is fair enough to an extent - there's nothing else like it, and previous years have shown that careers can be made at the flick of a ballpoint.

And this year, in this age when every man and his junior reporter has a blog, what importance are we placing on SXSW? Very little, it seems, as by comparison it seemed to pass by with hardly a reporter excitedly reporting seeing a man doing circus tricks on a street corner and seeing a local band not even the local scenesters have heard of. Dermot O'Leary and Steve Lamacq were out there for Radios 2 and 6 Music but that was about it. Perhaps the reason, as well as the oft-quoted commercialisation of what was an important A&R scrum opportunity into a media meat market, is precisely that - we already know what these people are like, and coupled with the Arctic shelf-like disintegration of the traditional major label structure it's for twenty people to enjoy music and the rest at the back on their phones. As far as we can tell from the review press the big breakout star was adjudged to be Amy Winehouse, and given Rehab and You Know I'm No Good were both mainstream radio favourites and Back To Black has entered the Billboard chart at number seven, its highest debuting album ever by a UK female, at the end of a week that started in Letterman's studio this hardly seems to be pushing the boat out. Mind you, last year's breakout stars were supposedly Cold War Kids, and nobody really heard any more from them for a few months afterwards. Actually, it seems to be the Brits who've come best out of this, but again the ones who've already got interest running - Lily Allen (Alright Still already top 20), Mika (hyped in a lot of start of year magazines, much as here), the Fratellis (top 50 album entry this week) and The Good The Bad And The Queen (it's Damon, c'mon) all had plenty of mentions in dispatches, along with recent US radio favourites Peter Bjorn & John. Maybe this is the issue in this information heavy, everyone-has-access days - everything's been snapped up before you can say Web 2.0.

3 comments:

Chris Brown said...

I heard Kevin Greening covering it for the World Service as well. Which is not the most interesting fact ever but a sort of excuse for me to brag about the time my uncle saw Brian Wilson sitting on a table at SXSW

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