SXSW's Corporate Footprint
  • FRIDAY, MARCH 06, 2015

  • Posted by: Jason Greenspan

Earlier today, Consequence Of Sound reported about McDonald's offer to feature Ex Cops at SXSW without any compensation for the performance. Regarding the offer, vocalist Brian Harding took to social media to express his displeasure, positing that it's disrespectful for such a large and profitable company to offer no payment. For context: the fast food behemoth is worth 90 billion dollars, meaning that a solicitation of any sort on their behalf without the offer payment is in fact inherently disrespectful. He addressed the trolls before they could even react, admitting that other sponsors were not offering payment either, but McDonald's is in a league of its own both financially and socially, and should be able to shell out some cash in good faith. This is just the latest headline, however, in the ever-developing story that is SXSW's corporate love affair, and should be considered with concern.

The most recent and widely publicized offense against this notion was in 2014 at the Doritos Bold Stage. Having performed ridiculous tasks deemed as "bold" to gain entry into the venue, audience members watched Lady Gaga perform and preach intermittently about being an individual/living in the moment. The advice was clearly part of her contractual obligation to align with Doritos' message of youthful boldness, and came off as rather awkward.

In the Austin, TX festival's early days, there was much less bullshit to distract audiences from the main focus, which is discovering new talent and appreciating artistry in general. Corporations eventually caught wind of the potential for exposure to young, hip attendees and began offering sponsorships. This relationship is positive in many ways; it allows more bands to showcase their music and provides platforms for more entertainment, but at what cost? The answer is credibility and genuineness. It's very important for an arts festival to feel organic; this is the reason why so many people attend in the first place. They want to feel as though they are escaping the marketing ridden catacombs of daily life and partaking in a stripped down, human event.

That brings us back to Ex Cops. They clearly believe in a more archaic expression of art, forgoing the exploitation of large corporate juggernauts and favoring instead more natural avenues. Baeble is featuring the Cops at our SXSW day party (among other amazing artists,) and we are admittedly not paying them either. However, there is a clear symbiotic relationship present in the situation; they receive relevant exposure and we get to feature a talented young group at the beginning of their sure to be fantastic career. These sorts of legitimate showcases are still prevalent at SXSW, even with the large corporate presence. So if McDonald's wants to use slave labor to hock hamburgers, let them do it, as long as they understand that the public sees right through the greasy, processed charade.

Watch the video for "Black Soap" from Ex Cops, and get excited for their showcase at SWSW!

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