South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the world’s most established music/film/technology events of the conference and festival world, is now underway in Austin, TX as it continues into its Twenty-sixth year.
It’s day four, and Canadian musicians, tech experts, and gamechangers are already making waves most notable being Neil Young’s launch of The PonoPlayer device and the PonoMusic virtual music store.
Both “conceived and founded by Neil Young” the PonoPlayer, or Pono, is an attempt to recreate the sounds of analog music into a more appropriate listening device.
It’s like this: apparently, music lovers everywhere have been doing it wrong in terms of their listening devices. Our current favourite mp3 players aren’t cutting it for sound quality—turning music into super-compressed files that are funneled into our ears through cheap headphones making the overall experience lackluster (if you haven’t already noticed). Most people probably don’t notice and are likely used to the sounds coming from our devices. However, there are those who say we are missing out on the real experience of music, and we deserve better.
The Pono heralds itself as a “convenient, easy-to-use LCD touch screen interface that is totally intuitive.” It offers a “no-compromise” format, meaning nothing is lost in the changeover from the way the music sounded in the recording booth to sound of the music leaving the device into the listeners ear. It’s pure, unadulterated music the way Young intended.
Paired with the device, PonoMusic will offer high-quality music available for download “from both major labels and prominent independent labels, curated and archived for discriminating PonoMusic customers.” Users can manage their music much like one would with iTunes.
According to SXSW, Young will unveil the Pono on Tuesday, March 11. The device will be available for $399 US from PonoMusic.com. For a discount, interested buyers can pre-order the device on Kickstarter.com as early as March 15.
Alongside Young, other Canadians will be spreading Canadian cheer for all to hear at SXSW, either sharing ideas or playing shows. Below are just a few of our precious ambassadors.
Tokyo Police Club is making a few appearances, playing shows from Tuesday to Friday courtesy of Mom+Pop. Tokyo Police Club will be releasing their new album Forcefield, March 25.
Their newest single “Hot Tonight” includes a fan-produced video.
Upcoming tour dates for Tokyo Police Club are available on their website.
Other Canadian bands include Chromeo, The Pack A.D., The Deep Dark Woods, A Tribe Called Red, Grand Analog, and The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, among others.
On the promotional side of the industry, Canada boasts one world leader who is changing the way bands promote themselves through critical analysis of their websites.
David Dufresne, the CEO of band website management and music store service Bandzoogle gave a quirky interview with SXSW, outlining the success of his business and the merits of the changing music industry today.
Dufresne partakes in an event called the Website Demolition Derby in which a band's website is picked-apart to highlight problems with aesthetics and interactivity. An improved website could mean more traffic, more exposure, and more of the good stuff.
And lastly, some large Canadian music organizations will be on Texas soil, namely the Canadian Independent Music Association.
The Canadian Independent Music Association offers opportunities for independent Canadian musicians wishing to break into the American market, which, according to their official website offered over $1.2 million for delegates in potential music deals.
The CIMA made its appearance this year under the banner of Canada Blast 2014, with special events including a BBQ and talent showcase, as well as turning one of Austin’s best live music venues, Friends Bar, into a headquarters for their shows, aptly named the CIMC Canada House. Apart from SXSW, the CIMA website features fascinating links to their work with independent Canadian artists, including research and graphs outlining the measure to which independent music constitutes the whole music industry in Canada.
Overall, a good showing so far this year at SXSW, and it’s not over yet.
– Leyland Bradley