By Amanda DK


With the annual South By Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival now just days away, industry professionals from blogger to supervisor are all hustling to catalog, notate and RSVP to entire inboxes full of artist schedules and event invitations.  Of course, the day they land in Austin on March 14 (or earlier), the meticulous work will all be in vain, swept away by word of mouth and tagging along with friends to that secret show no one else knows about.  Thus is the glorious standard operating procedure at SXSW.

For most people I know, the above rarely includes conference panels.  It’s easy to enjoy the festival without spending the $500 – $750 on a badge, and avoiding the Austin Convention Center entirely.  Still though, SXSW was founded on a conference and that is still at it’s core.

Curious about how SXSW curates some 150 odd panels each year?  They use a system called “PanelPicker.” Anyone can follow the guidelines, fill in the blanks and submit a panel proposal.  Once all proposals have been submitted, they go to voting.  Friends, families, colleagues, peers, acquaintances can all vote and comment on each proposal (even giving a “thumbs down” to ones they don’t like).  After the voting period ends, the SXSW Staff and Advisory Board deliberate, and the panels are chosen.

While panel topics range from vinyl mastering to the marriage of food and music, here are a list of panels that are specifically focused on the use of music in media.  Whether it be film, television, commercials, original composition, or some other creative brand partnership that has yet to be discovered – it’s key for artists to understand all the different possibilities and processes involved in this world.  Now is the time to get educated.

Film Conference

The Not So Sexy Side of Music For Film and TV
Date: Tuesday March 13
Time: 11:00AM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 13AB
Moderator: Dominique Preyer
Panelists: Mark Grossman, Julia Henry
You have songs in your film that you need to license, but you have no idea how to get a quote, who to ask, and where to go. Sound familiar? Nowadays, independent filmmakers have to wear many hats, and understanding the basics of music licensing are a must. Whether you are submitting a project to festivals, streaming online or seeking distribution, music clearance is essential (YES, even if the artist says it’s OK).

In the world of licensing music for Film & TV, the sexy side, or creative side, seems to get a lot of the attention whereas the not-so-sexy side, or the business side, is somewhat daunting and unfamiliar. This panel will focus on making the business side of music in film more sexy and appealing. The panelists will discuss the many issues that one can encounter when clearing and licensing music, including: best practices to follow, avoiding disputes, resolving misunderstandings and possible legal action, and all of the paperwork required for your deliverables package.

Artists Scoring Film: New Trends in Composing
Date: Tuesday March 13
Time: 3:30PM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABCD
Moderator: Robert Kraft
Panelists: Mike Shinoda, Mark Nishita, Kier Lehman, Todd Bozung, Joseph Trapanese

What do Trent Reznor, Daft Punk, Linkin Park and The Chemical Brothers have in common? They are recording artists who have crossed over into the world of film composing. This panel will discuss why more filmmakers and studios are turning to musical acts to give their project a distinct original sound and the importance of diversifying as an artist. From collaborating with filmmakers vs. band mates, developing soundtracks and blending their unique sound into score, artists will give a first hand account of their experiences and their significance in the marketing of the film. Key players will be defined, what role they play in the scoring process, how to grab their attention and land the gig.

Music Conference

Pathway To Placement
Date: Wednesday March 14
Time: 11:00AM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Moderator: Rebecca Rienks
Panelists: Rachel Levy, Joe Maggini, Chris Budd, Joel C. High

Ever wonder HOW that perfect song ends up in that perfect moment? How do the decisions get made and what can artists do to get ahead of the pack? Learn about the process of selecting songs for visual media from every perspective: artist, label/publisher, indie pitch person, music supervisor and filmmaker. Learn what makes a song imminently “synchable” and how artists can better write and record with film, TV, gaming and advertising in mind.

Cash For Songs: Insider Secrets of Music Placement
Date: Thursday March 15
Time: 5:15PM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Moderator: Sherry Orson
Panelists: John Anderson, Gary Calamar, Ryan Fitch, Amy Rosen

How do professionals generate cash for songwriters? How do you find projects that need material? How do pros contact decision makers? How do final decisions get made? Who cuts the checks? How does the money get distributed? Songwriters, artists, music executives and anyone else interested will discover how the licensing pros work to generate cash for songs.

Beyond the Kitchen SYNC: Music/Brand Collaboration
Date: Friday March 16
Time: 11:00AM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 17A
Moderator: Mike Boris
Panelists: Marni Wandner, Joel Beckerman, Taylor Hanson, Carianne Marshall

Everyone knows the great exposure you can get from having your music licensed in a commercial, but how else can you get your music heard with the help of a brand? Hear how to maximize usage beyond the conventional sync. Learn how brands can benefit from you as a band or performer, and how your band is itself a brand.

Beyond Just Music Licensing in Advertising
Date: Friday March 16
Time: 12:30PM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 15
Moderator: Eric Johnson
Panelists: Jessica Dierauer, Bryan Turcotte, Lauren Ross, Brigitte Green

Explore the creative and production process of ways in which music, bands and artists are being utilized in advertising projects that are beyond just traditional licensing deals. Hear real-world examples including advertising projects as brand partnerships, product placement, events-based campaigns and digital, social and collaborative endeavors.

Music in TV Pilots: Sales Tool or Strategy?
Date: Friday March 16
Time: 2:00PM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 16AB
Moderator: Amanda Krieg (That’s me!)
Panelists: Tony Von Pervieux, Phil Sgriccia, Daryl Berg, Alexandra Patsavas

Among the myriad of challenges in creating a successful television pilot, selecting the right music is frequently the most overlooked. From the score, to songs, to the perfect main title theme, there are many different elements to consider, and one question that defines them all: What is the most effective way to use music to sell a pilot, while still establishing a sound for the entire series? As a studio executive or a music supervisor, where should (or shouldn’t) you compromise? With music budgets shrinking everywhere, where do the funds go ­ a skilled composer or a recognizable Lady Gaga track? Is there an opportunity for aspiring composers to save the day?

Gatekeepers: Tales of the Pitch
Date: Saturday March 17
Time: 12:30PM
Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Moderator: Steven Scharf
Panelists: Lyle Hysen, Marisa Baldi, Michele Wernick, Carianne Marshall

Meet some of the top independent licensing companies that connect you with the music supervisors and the studios to place your music in all platforms of TV, film, commercials, gaming and branding.

Whether you’ll be attending the festival or not, which of the above panels excites you the most?  What questions about television pilots would you like answered?  Email me at – I want to know!