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March 18th SXSW Panel Looks at Pluses in Music Industry and Higher Education

Think the music biz is all doom and gloom because of the digital revolution?

David LewisYou might come away with another opinion — or several — after checking out the South by Southwest (SXSW) panel and McNally Smith College of Music’s own David Lewis at an upcoming discussion at the global music business event of the year. Currently a Career Advisor at McNally Smith, Lewis has optimistic insights to share at the annual Austin, Texas, music summit.

“On one level the music business in higher education is problematic — and maybe all music education suffers from this — we hear constant laments, ‘The music business is in a free fall,’ ‘The music business is the Titanic.’ So when it comes to a music business program in 2011 there seems to be a paradox: What music business?” he asks.

It is a fair question.

The layman hears an awful lot of moaning from the suits in L.A. about how downloading killed the radio star, but what is drowned out is that music is as vital as ever.” Lewis goes on to point out, “Many newly created social media programs and blog sites are giving voice to a vibrant underground: Startups like Kickstarter are giving artists the tools for crowdfunding their release, Pitchfork uncovers artists regardless of sales history or ad budgets and iTunes allows artists to reach an almost limitless fan base. The standard gatekeepers of big box retail, major print publications and radio payola (for better and worse) have melted away, democratizing the entire industry.”

According to Lewis, it really is an amazing and revolutionary time to make music.

Lewis’ panel March 18 at 11:00 a.m. in Room 16B at the Austin Convention Center is called “Music Industry Higher Education” and includes fellow educators from across the country:

  • Justin Sinkovich (Epitonic / Columbia College)
  • Chris Kaskie (Pitchfork / Columbia College)
  • Darren Walters (Jade Tree / Drexel University)
  • Bob Moczydlowsky (Top Spin / Carnegie Mellon)

Read more about the panel at the SXSW schedule.

“The current environment,” Lewis notes, “requires new ideas and a new class of hybrid thinkers and doers. What is not widely understood by the general public or the actual industry itself is that programs like McNally Smith’s Music Business Bachelor degree are not training students to step into a lucrative career as an A&R rep circa 1983 (when record sales were a given and rock stars ruled the roost), but rather the program is looking to arm students to define the industry moving forward.”

Lewis concludes, “While the traditional music business might be on a decline and that is painful for those who are already established in a rapidly shifting world, music — like journalism and the film industry — is a fascinating challenge for creative young blood, an endless opportunity for innovation, and a righteous cause.”