SXSW 2018: The News You May Have Missed

my E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)
– Austin
A view of Austin during SXSW at Austin Convention Center on March 17, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

SXSW 2018 seemed a slow news week compared to previous years. It had become standard operating procedure for digital music companies – especially startups – to put out press releases and scrape together announcements during the music portion of the annual festival. With so many press releases crowding inboxes, some news could easily get buried under waves of competing news headlines. Above all, reporters only have so much time to cover news events. Something is always going to get left out. 
This year publicists avoided SXSW. Instead, most of the worthwhile news came from the conference itself, not press releases. There were some major stories, like The Roots’ canceled concert due to a bomb threat. But for the most part digital music reporting was light. Here’s a recap of the other notable news items. 
Apple Music has 38 million subscribers. During a keynote at SXSW, Apple’s Eddy Cue also revealed the company has eight million subscriptions in the free trial phase. The previous announcement, for the 36 million milestone, came 35 days earlier [Feb. 5 and March 12], a rate of a million subscribers every 17.5 days. Apple Music added six million in the previous 130 days [Sept. 28 to Feb. 5], a rate of a million new subscribers every 21.7 days. – Joe Rossignol / Mac Rumors
Music industry veteran Lyor Cohen who is now global head of music for YouTube, said during a keynote chat that he thinks streaming is creating a “golden era” for the music business and clearly is positioning his company to be a part of the dawning. According to Variety, Cohen said that having only two options in Apple Music and Spotify is limiting. “I’m focused on bringing diversity to distribution,” he said, “We’ll do that by adding subscriptions.” Cohen’s confidence is in part derived from on the platform’s algorithm and that the “only place to play with commerce and direct to consumer is YouTube.” – Jeff Miller / Variety
Bose is developing augmented reality glasses with a focus on sound to add an “audible layer of information and experiences” to the real world. To help its cause, Bose is setting up a $50-million fund to invest in companies that will build off its platform. – Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
SXSW assured people it does not have a deportation clause that spurred controversy last year. Long story short, SXSW has an invitation letter it sends to artists. Last year performance agreements reserved the right to notify immigration authorities if an international artist had been removed from its SXSW showcase (but not one of the countless unofficial shows scattered around town). – Marc Hogan / Pitchfork
Netflix is raising prices. This is streaming video news that has implications for the streaming music world. The most popular Netflix plan is going from $9.99 to $10.99 for HD streaming. There are a couple options for higher-quality, 4K streaming: $11.99 for two devices and $13.99 for more than two devices. The cheapest tier stays at $7.99 for small definition quality for one screen at a time. – Romain Dillet / TechCrunch
The biggest buzz came from a “marketing experience” for the HBO series Westworld. HBO blew minds by recreating the show’s town of Sweetwater with in-character actors – a sheriff, gunslingers, prostitutes – that interacted with guests. Characters got in fights, guests were asked to dig a grave, and a showdown between the sheriff and some rough riders ended in a murder. Even though Westworld was set up 30 miles from Austin, it’s probably been talked about and written about more than anything since the huge Doritos vending machine/stage in 2014. – Matt Miller / Esquire