music as social action :: Blog
South by Southwest is an annual music conference and festival — a event at which artists and their record companies can showcase themselves in a kind of one-stop shopping for the music industry and media. Todd Martens, a great critic at the L.A. Times who covers SXSW each year, posted this piece in advance of this week's five-day festival. His thesis is that SXSW this year also will be showcasing a great deal of political communication via the music.
As you read his article, note where our course theory pops up — in the way a couple of artists describe the inevitability of their writing songs of social protest given current events, in the ways artists are thinking about (and afraid of) feedback with their audiences, and in claims such as "these songs are about building a community."
Participation! Why would current events seem inevitable for the production of protest songs? Setting aside personal political responses to that, think about it in terms of our course theories. Why, in an era of so many varied means of communication, would people turn to music for this type of expression? Answer with an example of a very recent protest song — why is it a particularly effective means of communication? (For sources, see this video reel of numerous recent tracks, or this piece about new protest songs.)