Garth Brooks to Keynote SXSW

DMC, Warren G, and T.I. also added as conference speakers

Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks

South by Southwest has roped in Garth Brooks for a keynote conversation at the music conference on Friday, March 17. The country superstar will fly over a crowd at the convention center, singing into a headset mic while suspended by cables, then sit down with Amazon Music VP Steve Boom for questions.

Okay, the part about him flying over the audience probably won’t happen, but it’s certainly noteworthy that Brooks, who ranks as the best-selling solo artist in American history, is being interviewed by top brass at a company that just last fall jumped into the music streaming market with the competitively priced Amazon Music Unlimited. Remember that much of what happens at SXSW is determined by commercial roll-outs such as Neil Young pimping his hi-fi service Pono at the 2014 conference.

Meanwhile, T.I., one of several artists who co-owns another streaming service, Tidal, has also been tapped as a featured speaker at SXSW. The platinum-selling Atlanta rapper is one of several newly announced speakers from the hip-hop world. Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of hip-hop forefathers Run DMC, one-time Death Row standout Warren G, and the politically outspoken leader of dissolved Puerto Rican rap giants Calle 13, MC Residente, who has a culture-spanning solo album forthcoming.

Harlem rapper A$AP Ferg joins homegrown concert promotions executive Charles Attal of C3 Presents, Billboard editorial director Mike Bruno, and Angela Yee, co-host of hip-hop-leaning syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club, for a discussion about tech’s effect on creation, distribution, monetization, and music consumption.

Also speaking at SXSW, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” singer Mike Posner, original Revolution members Andre Cymone and Dez Dickerson sharing memories and insights about Prince, Coachella co-founder/Golden Voice CEO Paul Tollett, album producer and Roxy Theater co-owner Lou Adler, Grammy Foundation president Scott Goldman, and actor/musician/Portlandia co-creater Fred Armisen, who’ll be in conversation with comedian/actor Bob Odenkirk.

Here’s SXSW’s full rundown of speakers added today:


Garth Brooks & Steve Boom (Music Influencers): Garth Brooks is an American country singer and songwriter. He is the first artist in history to receive seven Diamond awards for his albums – certified by the RIAA at over 10 million album sales each – and remains the number one- selling solo artist in the U.S. Steve Boom is Vice President of Amazon Music, responsible for Amazon’s streaming music business globally, which includes Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music, in addition to Amazon’s digital download music store.

Yasmin Green (Tech Industry): Yasmin Green is the director of research and development for Jigsaw. Green leads the team’s innovation efforts and oversees projects on counter-radicalization and fragile states. Green helped create the Redirect Method, which uses targeted advertising to divert at-risk audiences away from extremist content online.

Featured Speakers

A$AP Ferg, Mike Bruno, Angela Yee & Charles Attal (Music Industry): Hip-hop artist A$AP Ferg, Billboard editorial director Mike Bruno Mike Bruno, The Breakfast Club host Angela Yee, and C3 partner Charles Attal will discuss how technology’s rapid evolution has changed the entire music landscape: from how an artist produces and creates music, to how it’s distributed (streaming platforms) and monetized, to ultimately how a fan consumes and experiences it.

Fred Armisen (Entertainment Influencers): Fred Armisen is one of the most diversely talented performers working today with credits that run the gamut from acting, producing, and writing in both comedy and music. Armisen will join Bob Odenkirk for a conversation.

Lou Adler, Paul Tollett & Scott Goldman (Music Influencers): Lou Adler is a Grammy Award-winning record producer, music executive, talent manager, and co-owner of the famous Roxy Theatre in L.A. Paul Tollett is the president and CEO of Goldenvoice and the co-founder of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Scott Goldman is vice president of the Grammy Foundation.

Dean Baquet & Jim Rutenberg (Journalism): Dean Baquet is executive editor of The New York Times, a position he assumed in May 2014. Mr. Baquet serves in the highest ranked position in the paper’s newsroom and oversees reporting in all its various forms. Jim Rutenberg is Media Columnist and former political correspondent for The New York Times.

Michael Brown Sr, Jason Pollock, Bernard Ewings, Sandra Abron, Patrick Green & Mariah Stewart (Making Film & Episodics): This panel will discuss the historic events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. The death and treatment of Michael Brown sparked worldwide protests for his justice, and soon after launched the cultural phenomenon of Black Lives Matter. The hashtag #JusticeForMichaelBrown became a worldwide trending topic.

Diane Bryant (Intelligent Future): Diane M. Bryant is executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group for Intel Corporation. Bryant leads the worldwide organization that develops the data center platforms for the digital services economy.

Andre Cymone & Dez Dickerson (Music Influencers): As original members of Prince’s band the Revolution, Andre Cymone and Dez Dickerson will share memories, recollections, and insights from their first hand experiences during the rise of the iconic and influential musician.

Michael Faye, Michael Tanner & Annie Lowrey (Social Impact): Michael Faye is the co-founder of GiveDirectly and Segovia Technology. Michael Tanner is an author and Cato Institute senior fellow. Annie Lowrey covers economic policy for The Atlantic and is writing a book on universal basic income for Crown.

Warren G (Music Influencers): Warren G is a West Coast rapper and hip-hop producer. In 1990, he formed the group 213, named after the Long Beach area code, with his friends Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg. Their discovery by Death Row Records and Dr. Dre helped elevate them to international stardom.

Jonathan Greenblatt & Evan Smith (Social Impact): Jonathan Greenblatt is the CEO and sixth National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Evan Smith is the CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune and host of the weekly interview program Overheard with Evan Smith.

Noah Hawley (Entertainment Influencers): Noah Hawley is an Emmy®, Golden Globe®, PEN, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, producer, and director. In addition to his work on Fargo, Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner of the series Legion from FX Productions and Marvel Television.

Kerri Walsh Jennings & Anthony Katz (Sports): Kerri Lee Walsh Jennings is an American professional beach volleyball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist. Anthony Katz is the founder of Hyperice.

Melanie Lynskey (Entertainment Influencers): Melanie Lynskey is a New Zealand actress. She gained critical attention for her award-winning performance in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. Lynskey’s next movie, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore opposite Elijah Wood and directed by Macon Blair, will air on Netflix.

Mike Maples Jr. (Startup Village): Mike Maples Jr. is the Managing Partner at Floodgate, a venture capital firm. Some of Mike’s investments include Twitter,, ngmoco, Weebly, Chegg, Bazaarvoice, and Demandforce. Maples will join Scott Cook (Intuit) and Katie Roof (TechCrunch) on the Make Your Ideas Matter session.

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels (Music Influencers): Darryl McDaniels is a legendary music icon. From the first rap group to grace the cover of Rolling Stone to the first to appear on MTV, Grammy-nominated Run-DMC changed music, culture, fashion, and language, and made American history.

Chris Milk (Entertainment Influencers): Chris Milk is CEO and co-founder of Within, a technology and media company whose mission is to define VR as a new medium for experiential storytelling, and co-founder of virtual reality production company Here Be Dragons.

Vivek Murthy (Health): Dr. Vivek H. Murthy is the 19th Surgeon General of the United States. As America’s Doctor, the Surgeon General’s mission is to advance the health of the American people. Dr. Murthy brings the best available scientific information to the public by issuing Surgeon General’s Reports on critical issues and communicating directly with the public.

Nick Offerman (Entertainment Influencers): Nick Offerman is an actor, writer, and woodworker best known for his role as ‘Ron Swanson’ on NBC’s hit comedy Parks & Recreation. Offerman recently starred alongside Michael Keaton in the Weinstein Company’s The Founder.

Alexis Ohanian (Tech Industry): Alexis is the co-founder of Reddit, bestselling author of Without Their Permission, and an activist for the open Internet. He currently spends his free time investing in and advising startups.

Mike Posner (Music Influencers): Multiplatinum pop singer and songwriter Mike Posner quietly became one of the world’s most inescapable and recognizable voices. In 2016, his second full-length album, At Night, Alone [Island Records], bowed at No. 12 on the Billboard Top 200 and included the triple-platinum smash “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” which amassed over 1 billion worldwide streams.

Residente (Music Influencers): Residente is a Puerto Rican rapper, writer, producer, and founder of the alternative rap group Calle 13. He has won 24 Latin Grammy awards in total, making him the Latin artist who has won the most gold-plated gramophones.

Jenny Slate, Gabourey Sidibe, Danielle Macdonald, Cindi Leive & Janicza Bravo (Entertainment Influencers): Jenny Slate is an actress, comedian, and best-selling children’s author. Gabourey Sidibe is an actress who made her film debut in the lead role of the Oscar-nominated film Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Danielle Macdonald is an Australian actress and breakout star of Patti Cake$. Cindi Leive is the editor-in- chief of Glamour magazine and Janicza Bravo is a writer and director based in Los Angeles.

Kara Swisher, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett & Tommy Vietor (Journalism): Kara Swisher is a technology journalist, co-founder of Recode, and the 2017 SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame inductee. Jon Favreau served as Barack Obama’s head speechwriter from 2005–2013. Favreau was also a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton. Tommy Vietor served as President Obama’s National Security Spokesman.

T.I. (Music Influencers): Multi-platinum recording artist Tip “T.I.” Harris has won three Grammy Awards and has sold over 10 million albums in the U.S. alone. He is an artist-owner of Tidal, joining Jay Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, and others in offering up exclusive music, videos, concerts, and other content. His full-length album, Us or Else: Letter to the System, was released in December.

Sophie Turner & Maisie Williams (Entertainment Influencers): Sophie Turner is an English actress best known for her role as Sansa Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Maisie Williams is an English actress who made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. Turner and Williams will appear with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for The Game of Thrones Showrunners session.

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Garth Brooks, SXSW Music 2017, SXSW Film 2017, SXSW Interactive 2017, Run-DMC, Warren G, Residente, Calle 13, Fred Armisen, T.I., Game of Thrones, Charles Attal, A$AP Ferg, Nick Offerman

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