Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk (10,000 Marbles) has published an interesting new essay on SXSW and other like-minded festivals that calls into question what bands truly get out of them. Here's an excerpt, via the Grid:
"The model established by SXSW, which has been replicated in dozens of cities all around the world, rests upon the premise that for the bands who perform, the potential for increased exposure to international music industry folks and fans is worth the sacrifices of time and money it takes to play these showcases. With Canadian Music Fest happening right now, it’s a good time to ask whether this home-grown festival is intended to benefit Canadian bands, and if a music industry conference in this city is really equipped to highlight what’s great about Toronto’s music community.
In this (micro) generation where musicians can transition from home recording to touring in a matter of months, if they catch a buzz on the internet, the notion of a music festival where bands are made to jump through the hoops of showcasing their talents for “the industry” is as antiquated as the idea that this is really how the music industry works anymore. As The Weeknd and Purity Ring (both Canadian acts who broke out in 2011) illustrate, bands can court labels and fans before they even play a show—the importance of the showcase has given way to Soundcloud pages and traded MP3s.
As the business of music shifts and changes, showcase festivals like South by Southwest, its Torontonian cousin, North by Northeast, and CMF make winners out of a handful of already high-profile buzz bands, as well as lifestyle, clothing, and soft-drink companies that use attendees as a captive audience to blast with free samples and billboards. And they make losers out of the hundreds of showcasing bands, who underwrite the process by paying registration fees and providing music free of charge, only to walk away with nothing."
What do you think? Do musicians in 2012 have to "showcase" to get noticed? Does it simply depend on the band? Let us know in the comments.