Eight years ago, Lee Duffy, executive director for the Austin Songwriters Group, saw something lacking in the "Live Music Capital" — infrastructure.
"There’s a lot of music going on in this town," Duffy said. "But not as much as far as the industry, publishers, anything of that type, they’re in L.A. or Chicago, Nashville, New York, where there are more and bigger artists."
Seeking a remedy, Duffy, a longtime Austin musician, founded the Austin Songwriters Symposium, which takes place Friday through Sunday at the Southpark Omni Hotel. The event, held "by songwriters, for songwriters," in Duffy’s words, brings together industry professionals for panels on publishing, songwriting and more.
"It’s a little bit of everything — songwriting classes, vocal classes, classes on writing hooks, hit song writers that are current hit writers that are having to deal with the industry as it changes," Duffy says.
The group will also use the symposium to address ways in which songwriters can find new sources of revenue. Traditional marketing routes such as radio have become increasingly difficult to navigate, Duffy says. In its place? A panel on selling music for use in film and another, "Music and the Gaming Industry," which will discuss opportunities to sell music to Austin’s growing world of video game developers.
The event will also host nighttime performances from some of the participants; Faces member and Austin resident Ian McLagan and Eliza Gilkyson will participant in keynote interviews.
"She’s done a million different things; she has so much to pull from," Duffy says of Gilkyson. "She’s a great storyteller, she does her own thing. … One of the things when you’re a songwriter and you’re trying to be successful, it’s hard not to lose who you are in the process of being a commercial artist, and I think. she’s done that very well, she still knows who she is and writes that way."
For more information on the Austin Songwriters Group and Symposium, visit austinsongwritersgroup.com. I’ll be taking part in a panel on music and the media Saturday.
SXSW news-o-the-week. After last week’s announcement of more bands, including Vampire Weekend, South by Southwest put a limited number of wristbands on sale last Thursday. If you didn’t get one this time around, organizers usually put more on sale as the fest draws near.
Will Sheff goes solo-vil. Will Sheff released a new song this week, but fans pining for new Okkervil River material will have to wait. "I decided to do a project there I’d wanted to do for years and years, which is to make an album by myself and for myself, an album that doesn’t owe anything to music I made before," Sheff wrote on his website. To hear the new track, which uses a more electronic style than Sheff’s other material and is part of a project he calls "Lovestreams," visit lovestreamsdreams.tumblr.com.
Former Austinite gets country music nom. Former Austinite Sunny Sweeney, who got her start at the Poodle Dog Lounge on Burnet Road, has been nominated as Best New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music. Sweeney is up against East Texan Kacey Musgraves, recently profiled in Texas Monthly, and Jana Kramer. Nominated as Best New Male vocalists are Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert and Hunter Hayes. Up for Best New Vocal Duo or Group are Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft and Thompson Square
Award winners will be announced at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 7, in a a show on CBS. To vote for Sweeney, who had a Top Ten country single in 2010 with "From a Table Away" and a Top Ten album with "Concrete" in 2011, go to www.VoteACM.com.
— Michael Corcoran