Every March, hundreds of thousands of musicians, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs from around the world descend on Austin, Texas, in hopes of being discovered at South by Southwest. Now in its 27th year, the once-local festival has swelled to a nearly $200 million economic behemoth for Texas' capital city — up from $113 million just three years ago. That money largely comes from corporations and industry giants that, in turn, plaster the city with their iconic logos. This year, concertgoers watched musicians perform on a stage erected inside a six-story Doritos vending machine. Web geeks waited in a four-block line to share an Instagram photo taken with Grumpy Cat, the real-life version of the Internet meme. The conference's interactive component has particularly grown over the past five years, creating opportunities for emerging social media startups such as Twitter and Foursquare to become industry titans.
But with each passing year, name-brand business's hold on the festival gets tighter, leaving dwindling opportunities for the independent artists SXSW originally set out to promote. Media companies rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars at the annual event, while individual creators usually leave with less in their pockets than when they arrived. Nevertheless, the allure of the breakout SXSW appearance compels legions of musicians, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs to make the trek.
This year, CL followed a group of Atlantans trying to make it at the 10-day festival: local band Dog Bite, euphonia director Danny Madden, and entrepreneur/N4MD co-founder James Harris. Everyone had the potential to make an impact in Austin, but even those with serious talent can get lost in the chaos. (Read the full story here)
Justin Timberlake has made his career off of being repetitive. This recurring tendency in his songs dates back to his earliest days as a teen sensation when tearing up N’SYNC fans’ hearts with earworm hooks. He’s continued this habit well into his solo career. Along the way, he’s told an ex to cry a river, brought sexy back, and implored that his love not be given away. It’s never once or twice, but rather dozens of times or more, just to make sure he’s been heard. And to a degree, it works. The former boy wonder turned Top 40 savant is up to his old tricks on his latest record, The 20/20 Experience. We brought out the abacus and went deep on the album, logging each word or phrase said ten times or more. (Two songs — "Spaceship Coupe" and "Blue Ocean Floor" — are fairly repetition free.)See the full post here.
His organs failed. He died in his Indianapolis home. He was 39, and his alcoholism finally got the better of him. The death of the prolific songwriter, who was behind countless Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co. and solo albums, is simply devastating. There’s no other way of putting it.
Molina was a songwriter’s songwriter, something that’s evident by everyone from Glen Hansard to Jim James; to The National; outwardly mourning his loss over the past 24 hours. He never received the attention he deserved despite the gravity fans gave his work.
As for me, I’m crushed on multiple levels. (Read the full story here)
In 2011, more than 600,000 patients visited the Grady Health System. Across the Atlanta superstructure's 16 floors and the institution's six neighborhood health centers, 5,300 doctors, nurses, and staff members do everything from refill prescriptions to resuscitate lives. With more than 950 beds, Grady is the state's largest hospital. For Fulton and DeKalb counties' uninsured residents, the safety-net facility isn't simply a mammoth infirmary — it's a lifeline.
Six years ago, Grady nearly closed its doors. Although the 121-year-old hospital has experienced a recent turnaround, it's not out of the woods yet. For this three-part series, CL spoke with more than 50 doctors, patients, administrators, politicians, advocates, and others to learn about the fall, rise, and uncertain future of one of Atlanta's most important institutions.
Read the three stories here:
Part One: How Grady Memorial Hospital skirted death: In 2007, Georgia's largest hospital was $60 million in debt and facing closure. This is the story of its resurrection.
Part Two: Take me to Grady: A look inside the state's largest hospital right now with the people who know it best.
|Artwork: Steven Fiche|
As each year passes, festivalgoers increasingly debate the festival’s merits. As someone who has booked SXSW events and covered a wide spectrum of bands in Austin, it’s not hard to see how the festival’s grueling pace wears on artists. Hell, I even ran the marathon in 2011 as I saw 100 bands for an assignment with Paste. Some acts can gracefully maneuver the festival without breaking a sweat, while others shatter equipment in the middle of 6th Street.Read the full story here.
SXSW does present artists an opportunity amidst its organized chaos. Often, however, the gamble doesn’t make sense when their money can be invested into a dedicated tour, merchandise, or other expenses that come with having a music career.
To find out how much the conference matters to artists, I asked 40 SXSW-bound musicians to take my “SXSurvey” — a questionnaire that asks them about their expectations, goals, finances, and other related factors. I also spoke in-depth with other artists and industry figures to hear their take on the 10-day marathon.
Is SXSW worth it? That depends on whom you ask.
In 2013, few things will matter more to media outlets than growing their digital reader bases. But there’s hardly a clear-cut answer how they should forge ahead to fulfill that goal.
Some analysts have debated mobile’s growing importance for publishers, while others watch major news corporations test the waters with metered paywalls. It’s safe to say that outlets of all shapes and sizes, ranging from 100 to 100,000 digital subscribers, will soon experiment with digital subscription models.
To get a sense of how different outlets are moving ahead, I spoke with four different publishers about their current and upcoming digital subscription strategies.
Last July, Christopher Owens posted three consecutive tweets that shocked both music fans and critics alike. The San Franciscan songwriter and co-founder of the beloved indie-rock band Girls left the group that he started in 2007, saying:Dear all, This may come as a surprise to many & has been an issue of much thought for me. My decision was not easy to make. I am leaving Girls. My reasons at this time are personal. I need to do this in order to progress. I will continue to write & record music. More will be announced soon. I thank you all for everything. Sincerely-Christopher
The startling news regarding his departure came on the morning of July 2, without warning or a detailed explanation. But in reality, there wasn’t much to tell about what laid ahead. Following the announcement that Girls would be no more, Owens spent the rest of that month unsure of his next step.
“I didn’t think about it every day,” Owens says. “I just wanted to go and visit family and not think about anything for a little bit. I guess it was the last couple of weeks of the trip that I started thinking about what I wanted to do next.”