Label Heads Sound Off

Conference Panels

SXSW Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

Label Heads Sound Off

Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 13

There were obviously lots of issues eating away at the minds of these record execs, and this freeform rant-style panel gave them just the platform to air their concerns. Featuring New West Records President Cameron Strang, V2's Andrew Gershon, and Beggars Group/Matador CEO Lesley Bleakley, this was a progressive, interesting group of folks, positioned somewhere in the gray area between the big-shot majors and the grassroots indies. Discussion of the Internet and MP3 file sharing dominated this seminar over the changing landscape of today's music marketplace. Conversation was driven by a very confrontational and loud group of badge-holders, lined up at a microphone. Most confrontational of all was one relentless speaker, who questioned the labels' unwillingness to confront radio or retail for a piece of the pie, criticizing them for going after the consumer instead. The panel's attitude was fatalistic, many speakers referencing Clear Channel Communications and the big retailers, presenting the portrait of labels as midsized fish in the food chain -- victims of the larger corporate entities. It was also pointed out repeatedly that today's economic landscape offers fertile ground for independent record labels. "I would argue that there's several disadvantages to being on a major," said career record exec Jay Boberg, citing indies' abilities to narrow their focus and identify with consumers on a local level. There was a consensus that changes had to be made for labels to continue to be profitable, but nobody seemed to know exactly what those were. One speaker suggested that labels offer concertgoers on-the-spot CDs of the live show they just attended. "Clear Channel already has a piece of that one," groaned Strang. "I have absolute respect for the artist," stated Gershon. "None of us would be standing here today if it wasn't for them." Unfortunately, none of these label folks quite seemed to know how to help themselves, much less help the artists.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Wednesday Interview
Wednesday Interview
Delta Spirit

Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Faster Than Sound: Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Nostalgic livestream and rising Austin talent fundraise for the Austin Parks Foundation.

Rachel Rascoe, Oct. 16, 2020

Austin Music Awards Went Off Without a Hitch in a Show of Communal Strength and Support
Austin Music Awards Went Off Without a Hitch in a Show of Communal Strength and Support
The night everything cancelled in the capitol

Doug Freeman, March 20, 2020

More by Michael Chamy
Texas Platters
Palaxy Tracks
Twelve Rooms (Record Review)

Sept. 16, 2005

Texas Platters
Feathers From the Wing EP (Record Review)

Aug. 12, 2005

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle