The Top Tech News (and Parties) From SXSW Music

As tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs nursed their hangovers and headed home after SXSW Interactive, there were still newsworthy launches, panels, and campaigns going on at SXSW Music. MOG hinted at its future revenue streams, Sean Parker predicted the fall of iTunes, and products launched from Rap Genius, Monstro, and others.

The second half of SXSW is much more about concerts than startups, but it’s the only place to see next year’s buzz bands while making business connections. Luckily for those who missed it, or slept through the business hours, I survived the 11-day marathon of the two conferences back-to-back to bring you this breakdown of what the tech world needs to know about SXSW Music.


MOG CEO Discusses Interest In Exclusive Content and Automobiles – During the Social Music Strategies panel, MOG‘s CEO David Hyman joked that when Howard Stern’s contract with Sirius XM Radio ends, he’ll try sign him to MOG. Afterwards Hyman told me Stern would probably be too expensive but that “we’re big enough to start acquiring unique content”. The streaming service’s first in-car integration recently shipped with new BMWs, and Hyman told me he wants non-music such as audio books on MOG to give drivers more listening options. Hyman didn’t mention anything about being acquired, though AllThingsD says that HTC is close to buying the company through its Beats headphones subsidiary.

Sean Parker Says Spotify Will Overtake iTunes In 2 Years – In his on-stage interview, Napster co-founder and Spotify director Sean Parker said Spotify will earn more revenue for the music business than iTunes within 2 years. Billboard’s Glenn Peoples did some excellent digging into the numbers. He determined that for Spotify to beat iTunes’ projected $2.08 billion in 2013 revenues, it would need 12.34 million paying subscribers plus advertising revenue. As of 2 months ago Spotify had 3 million subscribers.

Product Launches

Rap Genius Verified Accounts, Official Lyric Meanings – The crowd-sourced lyric explanation site Rap Genius began verifying the identities of musicians featured on its site, and allowing them to provide official backstories on their songs. Rapper Nas was the first, offering breakdowns of his similes and tales of how he met the characters in his rhymes.

A huge volume of web searches are for lyrics, and providing meanings straight from their authors could make Rap Genius a premier destination. The startup has also recently branched out into hosting explanations for rock songs by Bon Iver and others in what it calls Stereo IQ.

Monstro’s SXSW Charts Show and Stream Popular Artists – Music discovery site Monstro tabulated all the SXSW Music-related tweets to compile charts of who were the most talked about artists by day, genre, and across the festival. Dubstep king Skrillex was crowned most talked about. From a consumer end the service doesn’t sound too monetizable, but co-founder Jeff Fedor told me the company will make money selling data to the record labels like successful startups Next Big Sound and Big Champagne (which sold to Live Nation).

Billboard To Include Data From BandPage, Spotify, and More – Stalwart music popularity chart Billboard will begin integrating data from music streaming services Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, MOG, Slacker, and Cricket, Hypebot reports that Billboard told the Wall Street Journal. Facebook music profile app BandPage which now supports 500,000 artists will also provide data to Billboard on upcoming acts.


One way to tell which companies are serious about competing in the crowded music space is to look for who has a big presence at SXSW Music. MOG featured well-known headliner The Roots at its day party, which could signal financial optimism from rumored talks to be acquired by HTC. Spotify put on 5 days of concerts from smaller acts at a dedicated venue.’s parties were the hardest to get into, packing tiny venue’s with fan favorites like Flying Lotus, Diplo, and ?uestlove.

Though not as showy as its show last year with Kanye West and Jay-Z , VEVO paid for a huge gig from Nas and Sleigh Bells. The music video distributor also teamed up with Nike FuelBand for a series of dance parties with Major Lazer and Girl Talk at an impressive venue where the lights responded to the physical exertion of the crowd.

Though it didn’t feature big-name acts, BandPage provided a crucial service to attendees. When the bars closed and the streets filled but nobody wanted to go home, many ended up at the BandPage HQ which featured DJs spinning until 3 or 4am for 9 straight nights in a laser-filled auto shop.

If it didn’t come on the heels of the deathly-exhausting Interactive conference, SXSW Music would be a dreamland of business and pleasure. Instead most tech folks and journalists tell me “I’ll go next year”. Well, sack up. It’s too good to miss.