Five things I learned by NOT going to SXSWI

Photo by Liz Henry

A whole bunch of local blogfriends went off to Austin, Texas this week to attend South By Southwest Interactive – which is kind of the tech end of what is probably the biggest music industry conference and festival on the planet.

I’ve been to some cool places recently, but that didn’t stop me being dead jealous of everyone.

But I like to think that having a bit of distance and perspective on the whole thing stops you from getting carried away with the spirit of the moment – and lets you see the real trends and significant lessons from the whole thing. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.


Many thanks

I thought I’d get this off my chest.


I have a lot to report from the CMJ Music Marathon (halfway through as I type this at the NZ Music Stand), but first I wanted to say thanks. This is the shirt I wore yesterday at the panel session I co-presented about the ‘future of the music business’ and to all of the media and music events I attended well into the night.

It’s my way saying thanks for helping me get to New York to attend. Much appreciated.

Music Tank do standup comedy

It’s often scary when an industry education-focused organisation starts to simply spout the corporate PR. But it can be funny too.

I receive emails from the Music Tank people, and I occasionally go to their seminars. So naturally, I also get their mailouts. They started life being all ‘What should we do about DRM?’ and ‘How do we make money from ringtones’, but they’ve moved on.

Now it’s ‘Let us celebrate the honourable major record labels and their mighty crusade against the evil pirates’. Believe it or not, the following is a direct quote from an organisation that works in, for and with the music industries:

This week saw the RIAA gain its first victory in what is proving to be an epic industry war against the global menace of illegal filesharing. In fining Jammie Thomas (will the irony of her name ever carry over the pond?) a whopping $220,000 for 24 of the tracks she made available on the Kazaa network, the industry has issued its most severe warning yet to the worldwide illegal filesharing community: “get you’re a** to iTunes… or you might be next”.

The first sentence had me in stitches, and the last line (spelling error and all) finished me off. Their cheap-shot joke in brackets in the middle suggest they may not be the comic geniuses the rest of the note suggested — but then perhaps they’re not trying to be ironic.

And, I’m sorry, is iTunes the only record industry cartel approved site for authorised music downloads? Aren’t there other people Music Tank’s constituents have contractual agreements with?

They started to lose me when they started agitating for copyright extension (despite the overwhelming objections by the music industry people in the room at that particular seminar) and higher prices for music downloads across the board (higher?! are you insane?!!!).

The scary bit, of course, is that these guys are owned and run by the University of Westminster. Remember what universities used to do? Critic and conscience of society. Not corporate mouthpiece.

Music Tank are never having any more of my money, and I’m appalled that Westminster are allowing this sort of thing to go unchecked.

Situations Vacant

I give up. I need help. I’m looking for a part-time PA, and if you know the right person for the job, then I’d be very grateful if you sent them here to read this message.

MeHi. I’m Andrew Dubber. That’s me there. Yes, I’m tired and could do with a bit of a hand.

My job is as Senior Lecturer in the Music Industries at UCE Birmingham, but I also do a lot of other things outside of that.

This website is one of those things.

I also do seminars, workshops, DJ-ing, the odd bit of radio, the occasional bit of journalism, lots of blogging and appearing as the ‘expert’ in different sorts of situations. I’m also about to set up a record label, start on my PhD and undertake a couple of significant research projects.

Because I’ve got so much going on, I’m looking for a bright, reliable and energetic Personal Administrative Assistant. Is that you?

If so, then you’re able to follow instructions, but have the initiative to devise and implement systems that will help keep the organisational and day-to-day financial side of my life in good working order.

The work you’ll do for me will be mostly to do with simple bookkeeping and the organisation of paperwork. If you’re as fast and efficient a worker as I think you are, then this will realistically entail just a few hours a week of your time, after we’ve got things underway with a bit of setup and a few extra hours up front.

Once a month we’ll sit down together and do a review for an hour or two just to make sure we’re on top of everything.

Your communication skills are, necessarily, exemplary. You’ll be phoning, writing and emailing people on my behalf — and correct spelling, grammar and politeness are of the utmost importance to me. Computer use is going to be necessary — you’ll already be completely at ease with Word and Excel — and you’ll be pretty good about knowing your way around the internet too.

Most of what I’ll ask you to do is stuff that you can probably do at home in your own time, as long as that coincides with my deadlines and expectations. You’ll sometimes need to meet me in Moseley, where I live and have a home office — but also where I like to have meetings in a nice record shop/cafe nearby.

My university office is in Perry Barr, but you probably won’t need to meet me there very often, unless that’s particularly convenient for you. You don’t have to have a car but you might need to hop on a bus from time to time. I’m not sure why as yet, but let’s just be prepared for that possibility.

I’m also going to be travelling a fair bit in the next few months (Amsterdam, New York, New Zealand), so I’ll need you to hold the fort at this end and just deal with things that might come up. Nothing tricky – but I may need an errand or two while I’m out of town.

For these reasons, and more, I need you to be a reliable, flexible, hard-working, smarter-than-average person who can cope with a spot of chaos, but who will do everything they can to knock it into a more orderly shape.

You won’t necessarily need a place to be and a time to be there by, but if there’s something you need to be doing, you’ll do it quickly and you’ll do it well.

I’m not looking for a Mum, and I don’t want a lackey or a drone. You need to be my ‘Team’.

It’s a very part-time job at this stage. There’s not much money here just at the moment. You’ll be lucky to clear £100 on a good month. But I’m ambitious for that to expand over time, and if you are the person I’m describing, then I’ll want you along for the ride.

If this does sound like you, and you’re interested in being my PA then drop me an email:

Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks so much

Well, I’m delighted to report that thanks to your generosity, I’ll be at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York this October.

zoomA combination of some cheaper air travel deals found through the internet (thanks, Valerie), an incredible amount of financial support from around the world and a significant degree of flexibility at the university means that it’s all systems go. I’m very, very grateful.

Now… the next step is to figure out accommodation. I’m in the middle of a tour around the UK, speaking to musicians and music businesses about what it is they do for a living — and I’m finding the Youth Hostels to be, for the most part, entirely satisfactory — though some are infinitely better than others.

I found this site, which seems helpful as far as cheap places to spend the night in NYC are concerned — and with a bit of research I think I’ll be able to locate something affordable, close to the venue, and not overly perilous.

I quite like the sound of this place… but I’m open to your suggestion on that front.


Charity case update

I’m more than halfway towards the money I’ll need to get me to the CMJ Music Marathon in New York. Er.. Big Issue anyone?

I’m absolutely overwhelmed by your generosity and I’m incredibly grateful to every person that has donated via Paypal to the fund that will see me attend the CMJ Music Marathon in New York in October.

Some people have donated £1, others over £100 — and I’m so excited and rather humbled each time I get another email notification, regardless of the figure. It’s not enough yet, but I’m still pretty hopeful…

Here’s the explanation of what I’m trying to do.