South By Southwest

From the Daily Swarm this week:

Yes, this week marks the beginning of SXSW 2011, and SXSW always proves a fantastical cauldron of hate, from buzz bands not living up to their hype to how awful the Internet/phone connectivity is. It’s still early days, though, so we’ll have to make do with this official email from SXSW’s press office outlining “Specific Photo Policies for a Few SXSW Headlining Acts.” Okay, it would be a stretch to say it demonstrates hate, but the acts in question seem to, erm, maybe not appreciate the promotional value of YouTube, Vimeo, blogs, et al?

“TV on the Radio: “We allow first 3 songs only and no flash at all.”

Perez Hilton’s showcase: Perez Hilton’s PR company heavily vets all media requests.

The Bangles: “We generally approve photo/video footage as requested rather than in general. Usually photos are first 3 songs, no flash and video is first 30 seconds”

The Bravery: First 3 songs with flash allowed and thereafter no flash. NO VIDEO.

Widespread Panic: Band policy: No Flash. ACL policy: “ACL’s policy about other media covering tapings is that they can be there during first three songs as long as they are behind our cameras. We have a recommended place for them to stand and request they talk to us about getting access.”

The Strokes: First three songs only from the photo pit. Please get there early and go to stage left. Photographers will go in in groups in order to accommodate as many photographers as possible – Group 1 will shoot the first song, Group 2 the second song and Group 3 the third song. Groups will be arranged at the stage.”

So….. wasn’t SXSW supposed to be the way new bands could be discovered. The world’s media gathers in Austin each March to shmooze and discover new bands. So now, a bunch of old washed up bands play down there and restrict people from shooting pictures of them. Widespread Panic? The Strokes? The Bangles? Don’t they need all the help they can? Perez Hilton? He is trying to restrict who can come to his showcase? Wasn’t he the one who started all of this crap? As soon as the Paparazzi and the blogger journalists started discovering that musicians were also celebrities, and would make them money, they started making themselves obnoxious and causing publicists to start restriction everyone- just to keep them under control. The Bravery? Did they ever live up to even a 10th of their hype? They should be walking around Austin begging anyone with a camera to come in and photograph whatever they want!

I made the mistake of going to SXSW in 2008. I was speaking on a panel, so I got a free admission badge and a photo pass that would allow me to jump to the front of all the lines. I wanted to see what that was like so I wandered down the street to where REM was playing. Rules were the same as what the Strokes described above.. I found myself in the back of the first group. As the security guy told the first group to enter the barricade, I was body blocked to the ground by a rather small woman, who had to get in there before me. I picked myself up, walked into the pit, and stood off to the side. I watched the same woman pull out a small point and shoot camera. When the band hit the stage, she stood there watching the show, never attempting to actually take a picture!

Last week when all the Lady Gaga S__T hit the fan, many photographers called themselves “Bottom Feeders.” I am not sure I agree with that. The new paradigm of journalism is dominated by blogs and webzines. When celebrities start realizing that, they will treat every legitimate photographer with a degree of respect. (Hopefully) Maybe weeding out the amateurs will allow the rest of us to do our jobs.

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