Columbus Music Influencers Heading to SXSW
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on ColumbusUnderground.com – it was written by Michelle Holzworth, volunteer PR writer for the Columbus Songwriter’s Association with input from Ryan Getz and Joey Hendrickson.
Every year, thousands of artists and professionals from across the world flood into Austin to immerse themselves in all things creative. Hosting everything from music, tech, film to nightlife that never ends, SXSW is an annual conference that has become a transformative 10-day experience.
Many creatives from Columbus will attend SXSW this year, including Andrew Choi. Choi, a soulful vocalist, is beyond ready for his debut performance at this conference. On March 16, Choi and his indie pop band St. Lenox will take the stage and be part of SXSW’s first official Asian-American showcase.
“It’s a great opportunity to show my work off to a new group of listeners,” said Choi. “I’m excited to be one of the music acts they chose for this inaugural event, in part because my last record deals with that perspective.”
Truth be told, Choi will share an innermost piece of himself by playing songs from Ten Hymns From My American Gothic, an electrifyingly heartfelt album infused with his dreams and struggles as the son of Korean immigrants.
Choi credits Columbus with his growth as an artist, and openly advises up-and-coming musicians with what he’s learned about navigating the music industry. As he put it, “Columbus has an amazing open mic scene that was really great in helping me develop as a songwriter. People need to spend more time at these.”
On that note, Choi identified the Achilles’ heel of the music community in Columbus: our talent remains uninitiated from industry expectations. “There’s a lot of concentration on professionalizing musicians,” mused Choi, “and it’s happening too early, when people are still developing their writing skills.”
Luckily, SXSW offers a chance to plunge right into learning the ins and outs of this highly dynamic, diverse, and competitive music market. Columbus resident Luke Boyle welcomes the crash course.
“I find that my career straddles the music and film world, which are both present at SXSW,” said Boyle. This trip to the conference comes with tuition at GROOVE U, an industry-savvy two-year music career program offered in Columbus.
Now a second year student, Boyle will network with people searching for “a headstrong neophyte” to hire in the future, and will seek advice from professionals. Additionally, he plans on connecting with artists who hail from Japan’s music scene. He has even practiced speaking Japanese to communicate more effectively.
After reflecting on what attending this event has meant to him, Boyle said simply, “However big you think the world is, it’s actually bigger than that.” As for offering his thoughts on the experience itself: “The phrase, ‘Drinking from a firehose,’ is particularly apt.”
Ryan Getz, a Columbus music writer who avidly attends shows, has also visited SXSW previously. No stranger to this conference, he savors the side-street venues in Austin.
“The atmosphere [there] is second to none,” stated Getz. “I love the character of the city. I’m particularly looking forward to the Nashville House showcase.” He admitted his first year attending SXSW was “pretty overwhelming,” but even so, discovering new bands to champion compelled him to go back a second time.
“Year 2 was more productive,” Getz remarked. “I got better at connecting with people. One conversation even led to me booking a band in Columbus at Big Room Bar last summer. I gained more confidence in interacting with people I don’t know. I’ve come to realize most people in the music community are more open to conversation than you think.”
This year, Getz will return to SXSW for the third time and continue to promote his blog, Tuned Up.
Joey Hendrickson, a Columbus non-profit founder, music advocate, and marketing consultant all-in-one, will attend SXSW to trade insights with industry mentors and city leaders. For Hendrickson, participating again in 2017 is a milestone of the growth and evolution of his work that began five years ago. He will moderate an official panel during SXSW and present ideas at side gatherings of music researchers.
“Last year, I was shocked when How To Build A Music City was selected from the 4600 panel ideas for SXSW’s music track,” explained Hendrickson. “I was shocked again when we had a huge turnout for it. This year, they brought me back for a second panel that dives into the strategic processes being used to support emerging music scenes around the world. It’s technical, nerdy, and I love it.”
Hendrickson also mentioned a music tech platform he’ll unveil behind the scenes during SXSW. He is saving its name for a reveal later this year, but said that this platform is designed to assist musicians with earning a better living while helping cities retain their creative class.
The sheer entertainment value of SXSW attracts people from just about everywhere. After all, it is one giant interdisciplinary party. It brings celebrities like Mark Cuban and Elijah Wood, bands like The Ramones, and influencers from various industries to the same bustling place.
For some, spotting the rich and the famous is the endgame. Hendrickson, though, would rather focus on developing real friendships with international “thought leaders, artists, and optimists” found at this conference. Likewise, he wants to continue coalescing “a new movement of city support for music.”
To that end, Columbus itself exemplifies one of those movements. Choi, Boyle, Getz, and Hendrickson agree, our music community is full of talented artists and great possibilities. By heading to SXSW and sharing their gifts, their energy, and their expertise, these local influencers will help Columbus extend itself into this global amalgamation of art, thought, and innovation.