Music Speaker Profile: David Dufresne

Written by Rory Burbeck | Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014

SXSW 2014 Music Speaker: David Dufresne

Very briefly, what do you do and what is your session about?

I'm the CEO of Bandzoogle, a platform that over 20,000 bands and musicians use to power their websites and online stores.

The Website Demolition Derby format is simple. Audience members will give us their website's address, we load it up on the big screen and then we live critique it.

It may sound harsh, but it's actually super fun, rowdy, educational, very practical (as in... advice you can actually use) and everyone leaves the room having taken tons of notes about best practices for your website's design, organization and content. We also always end up discussing the site's role in an act's online strategy, so we'll talk about social media, mailing lists and other nonsense.

How/why did you get started in the music industry?

I'm the only team member at Bandzoogle who isn't either a musician or a classically trained singer. I grew up a huge music geek, had a radio show at my university and DJ'd in bars when I moved to Montreal. Then I worked in venture capital for 8 years and got interested in how the Web was impacting the music eco-system... artists and fans in particular.

How many years have you attended/spoke at SXSW in the past? If this is your first time at SXSW, what are you expecting?

I think this is going to be my 6th or 7th SXSW. I used to come for Interactive but the last years have been all Music. Two years ago I skipped it because my daughter was born on March 14th, so now I have to make my visits shorter if I want to be home for her birthday. I kindly asked Melissa and Bobby to move the whole SXSW by 2 or 3 weeks. I'm still waiting.

Best thing that’s happened in music in the last year?

I love seeing fans and artists acting more and more like partners, so all the successful crowd-funding efforts are my favourite thing happening right now.

Favorite new app/service/tech development in music?

Vinyl records (no kidding, I have a theory why vinyl is seeing a resurgence as a format and why it's so important... its limitations are actually strengths).

What’s the biggest issue facing the music business today? Can it be overcome?

It depends how you define the music business and how you define success, and there will be tons of losers. What I'm hoping is that the great artists that are talented and work hard enough to engage a real audience can earn a living from their music.

The biggest issue is that we are moving from a volume-based industry, where you would sell the same record and ticket to as many people as you can.... To a quality-based industry where each artist will have a smaller number of fans, but, let's hope, better engagement and a product mix that lets the super-fans spend like super-fans and lets the casual fans spend like casual fans (a.k.a. close to nothing).

To use a restaurant analogy, right now I see a lot of smart and creative chefs that left their fast food franchises and are launching very well reviewed and appreciated small and unique neighbourhood bistros. But their establishments are still selling all their tables the same $3.99 value meals.

What’s the last live show you saw that floored you?

These guys, Odezenne (French hip-hop): Their website sucks.

Favorite moment/weirdest thing you saw from a past SXSW?

My favorite anecdote is how I met my friend Trevor, in the Hilton's urinals, because my other friend Josh mentioned the Juno Awards in a random conversation... so we connected as Canadians and then hung out for most of the conference and subsequent few ones. That's how friendships are made at SXSW. Bathrooms.

What artist(s) are you most looking forward to seeing perform at SXSW 2014?

That might sound lazy, but I always love hanging out at the Planet Quebec showcases, because most artists are upcoming Montreal bands that I never have the time to see here in Montreal and a lot of the attendees are local music industry people that I never get to meet. So I go to Texas to find out what the heck my friends here talk about. And, there's some amazing music being made in Montreal right now. I know Solids are going to pay a few shows. I'm psyched about that...

There's also a few hundred other bands that I'll probably try and see...

Tacos or BBQ?

Beef ribs. Messy.

Hear David Dufresne, CEO of Bandzoogle, discuss website design at Website Demolition Derby on Wednesday, March 12th at 3:30pm in ACC Ballroom E.

Photo courtesy of the speaker