We just got back from 10 days at the Sxsw interactive, film and music festival in Austin Texas.
Magnatune was an exhibitor during all 3 parts of the show, and I spoke on two panels as well. Sxsw/film is the best trade show Magnatune exihibits at, because it's all indie film-makers, making amazing films and looking for alternatives to the traditional evil major labels, who aren't all interested in indie films.
Usually, we license enough in the 2 weeks after the show to more than pay the expense of it, which is why this year we came out in force, with all 5 of us at the show.
The first panel I went to was Lonelygirl15, and I was truly blown away by all the innovation going on with this project. They're successfully blurring the line between audience/actor but also between staged/real. For example, when the characters form Lonelygirl15 went on a live chat, in character, one of the fans on the chat said that if Bre ever needed a place to stay, she could stay at their place. Bre then did a show on this, asking the audience if this was weird or not. The audience thought it might be ok, so in a future show, Bre runs away from home and escapes to this person's house. It turns out the fan was actually a plant, put in to see if the fans were into this storyline, and effectively making fans feel like they themselves might be part of the story. Very, very clever.
Lonelygirl15 has used a lot of Magnatune music and always credits us, as well as tagging their Youtube videos with Magnatune when they do so.
After their talk, I went up to talk to the business guy, and heard someone asking him "what do you do for music?" to which he replied with how great Magnatune was and how you can listen and then license online. Bear in mind, he had no idea I was listening in or who I was. The person was quite unhappy to hear about Magnatune because they were a music supervisor who was trying to sell their services to Lonelygirl15! I chatted with the biz guy a bit and he was extremely friendly and very, very positive about Magnatune.
We ran a panel on low-cost music licensing. In the past, ASCAP has run the only music licensing panel at Sxsw, and it's always a disaster (IMHO) because they invite big film-makers and other big-shots up there, and their advice is always "what's the problem? You just hire a lawyer and a music supervisor and they take care of it". That's hardly useful for people filming a whole film on a $10,000 budget. We've been pitching the Sxsw folks on a "low budget music licensing" panel, which they gave to us this year. It was well attended, though pretty heavily technical.
I was also on a panel run by Creative Commons. The energy level was a bit low, so I picked a fight with the lawyer from Youtube. The lawyer is actually Glenn Brown, former head of Creative Commons, and we've been friendly for years, so this was hardly a nasty fight. But, point was the Youtube is the "wonderful thing that's gone terribly wrong" in that every media owner is angry with them and spewing DMCA take-down notices at them, and it's not clear at all to me that Youtube will survive the collected venom of the video industry, and Youtube looks a lot like Napster to me (from a legal standpoint). Glenn countered that there was only one lawsuit currently, so there was hardly a stampede of lawsuits. Ironically enough, the next day Viacom launched their billion dollar lawsuit against YouTube. Another blog which mentions this panel.