SXSW 2012: Panel Addresses How Social Media is Affecting Hip-Hop and the Music Industry

SXSW Hip Hop Panel - H 2012

SXSW Hip Hop Panel - H 2012

South By Southwest Music held a panel discussion on Wednesday, March 14 at the Austin Convention Center called "From The Blocks to the Blogs." Sponsored by the Cashmere Agency, the session took a close look at social media's impact on the hip-hop industry.

Moderated by Cashmere Agency's Vice President Ryan Ford and featuring music tastemakers such as Rap Radar CEO Elliott Wilson, Beats By Dre Social Media Manager Karen Civil, MocoSpace CEO Justin Siegel, Stampede Management Strategic Brand Director Nicholas Adler, and SirusXM co-host "Sway in the Morning," Devi Dev, it began with Ford explaining that the multi-cultural community was still experiencing a "digital divide," referencing to communities not yet able to be reached and communicate effectively with each other.

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Wilson touched on the subject stating that the music industry is being transitioned from print to online music journalism. Wilson says that "Magazines aren't as impactful as they once were," He added, "Now it's shifted so that everything runs through online first because of the desire of it, like [breaking] news. I have had to adapt [to] that way. My goal is to document the culture in the highest level, and things have shifted in my favor."

The subject then shifted to more artists accepting Twitter as a means of communication with the world. It's a way for current artists to show progress and grow but also a way of helping new artists gain exposure and find fans by having digital content more accessible.

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Social media has also become a way for artists to interact directly with fans, which has become every publicist's nightmare because it means that the gatekeepers can be bypassed completely. Civil has found a way to work around that problem mentioning that she's developed artists social media impact, citing artist Lil Wayne with his DEWeezy campaign sponsored by Mountain Dew on Twitter.

Devi Dev talked about how Twitter has influenced her radio show. "We went from being in an age where you find out what people are listening to once a month," Dev said. "Now I can instantly see when people tuned in and [when they] changed the channel. Twitter took it one step further and you can search and see what people like and don't like. We can harness [plays] to the taste of people now."

Adler added, "We now have the opportunity to entertain fans non-stop. We can also look at our fans through analytics and then speak directly to them. We've equipped ourselves for this new media revolution. Rather than waiting and trying to get the right production crews and worrying about budget and costs, we've invested. We have a studio in our facility where we can just curate content on a dime. It's paying off." Adler used Rapper Snoop Dogg as an example.

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Siegel spoke about record companies' quick response and desire to be involved with his mobile social network, Mocospace. "The record labels, like Def Jam, realized we were hitting the audience and they worked with us very early on." Nas joined Mocospace in 2008 and is currently active.

The panel continued to discuss the effect Twitter has had on the industry, saying that service can not only be used as a tool to connect to fans but also as a way to prove to labels and tastemakers that they actually do have a following.

They ended on an important note: that ultimately, the artist's raw talent should be the key, not how many followers they have.

Twitter: @THRMusic