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While day two of SXSW started out dreary, HITS’ ever-perky Karen Glauber quickly kicked things into high gear.
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There’s nothing like an overcast morning sky to let your hangover set in. But while day two of SXSW started out dreary, HITS’ ever-perky Karen Glauber quickly kicked things into high gear. Moderating this morning’s panel on the dynamics of radio (titled "What to expect when your expecting?" for the second year in a row), the panel addressed issues common to the developing artist looking to make a first break. As this year’s experts, SXSW recruited MTV2’s David Cohn, AMG’s Dan Field, Columbia’s Nan Fisher, manager Michael McMartin, Q101 PD Tim Richards and Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman (Ed. note: What, no Pete Yorn?). Topics on the table included the importance of research, the dynamics of competing markets, participating in station events and effective timelines (Ed. note: What, no best online place to buy discount Dolce & Gabbana?) . Sure, you’ve heard it all before, but in this day of shrinking margins and quarterly projections, it’s best to listen up for a refresher course.

Thankfully, it’s not all as dim as it seems. According to Richards, Chicago’s Q101 does not consider a song’s air time to be solely dictated by the record’s respective release date nor does the station consider research the end-all indicator for a record’s hit potential. "Research is not the ultimate decision-maker," he said, rather it’s the partnership between the band, their music and the station and its listeners. Similarly, Fisher proclaimed that artist development is not dead saying that it "has to exist…and does."

Schwartzman, intent on letting all radio people know that free food is the way to Phantom Planet’s heart, noted that his fellow members are happy and willing participants in the radio game, content to go into a station just to play their music—exactly the kind of relationship a PD like Richards seeks. That being the case, Richards used Limp Bizkit as an example of a band who won’t be getting much airplay on Q101 because they’ve "brought nothing but negativity."

So far, there haven’t been many verbal punches thrown as much as in years past. Even Fred Davis’ panel on managers as adversaries took on a subdued and constructive tone and there were few, if any, surprises during Miles Copeland’s keynote address. Perhaps the Courtney Love interview will shake up some feathers. If not, there’s always the panel on "Loose Lips Get Page Hits" with Kurt Reighley moderating a rowdy bunch that includes ex-HITS Far Truths columnist Jim Fouratt, Allstar’s Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna, Buddyhead’s Travis Keller and news writer, Jaan Uhelszki.

Back to the music: Thursday night was all about showcases--starting with MTV2 and Capitol Records who brought some British flavor to the Southwest. Starsailor played to an attentive audience of several hundred at what is now being regarded as the best party thus far. Other big buzz shows included the Columbia Records showcase, which featured punk newcomers Riddlin Kids playing backup for a session of punk rock karaoke, new Icelandic rap-metal band Quarashi (currently enjoying regular rotation on MTV2), the Lo-Fidelity Allstars, The Ataris and the X-Ecutioners. On the indie front, Philadelphia’s File 13 was rocking BD Riley’s with the homegrown talent of The Burning Brides (the next Strokes?), AM/FM and Matt Pond PA. Similarly, Overcoat Records, current home to Richard Buckner, presented an enlightening display of roots music at a local Mason Lodge. But by far the most well-received performances were the ones that came late at night. The Drive-By Truckers 1 a.m. set at Antone’s left stragglers gasping at the band’s seemingly genius classic-rock interpretation of growing up listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and insomniacs were loving the after-hours party which featured the all-girl AC/DC tribute band, Hell’s Bell’s, one of whose members also recently tried out for the Limp Bizkit guitarist slot.

Much hyped for the weekend is Jerry Cantrell’s Roadrunner party bow , the Lost Highway showcase (featuring Tift Merritt, David Baerwald and the New Folk UndergroundRyan Adams is rumored to be making an appearance), the Blender Magazine party (featuring The Promise Ring), and the SPIN after-hours party, featuring South and Elbow). On my list are: The Soundtracks of Our Lives (quality indie rock from Sweden), Slobberbone (twang), The Sadies with Jon Langford (exceptional twang), and the Waxwings (power pop from Detroit).

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