The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

Gen-Z: Young Musicians Set the Tone

Annabel Andre

With bright eyes and fresh faces, the people born from 1997-2012 enter into the crowded streets and music venues of South by Southwest (SXSW). The draw of the music festival is far and wide, with more than 300,000 people piling into the borders of Austin, according to KVUE. Austin has proclaimed itself as a staple for live music, and SXSW is an event that allows for artists to gain publicity and experiences across a wide demographic. The music festival has a history of both large and small acts taking the stage, and as more of Generation Z is entering the music industry, these smaller artists are also a part of the generation commonly referred to as Gen-Z. While Generation Z only makes up about 20.66% of the U.S. population, according to data from Statista, the tools and resources in the modern day are drastically different from musicians decades ago. Young artists have the ability to use social media to promote themselves and disperse their music across the world, and they can relate to the upcoming generation. 

SXSW is a resource for many to gain prominence and create connections. For young and small artists, it appears as a tool to broaden their fanbase. With the immense amount of people that come from all over, SXSW allows artists to expose themselves to an even wider demographic, creating a more expansive base of support and popularity. For some bands who have largely grown their following using the modern tool of social media, this allows them to connect with the people they may have reached in real life. Grace Kirchbaum from the indie band Shallow Alcove described how the industry has changed in her lifetime because of TikTok. 

Katie Busby

“I mean undoubtedly the most crazy thing that has happened to the music industry in our lifetime is TikTok whether that’s a good thing or bad thing, like for me it’s given me a lot of access and an ability to market myself,” Kirchbaum said. 

Some bands that play gigs at SXSW are almost brand new to touring, and SXSW provides them with experience and exposure to a different crowd. Chicago indie-rock band Neptune’s Core played their first show outside of the Midwest at SXSW this year. The four-member band is made up of two sets of sisters, Jackie and Kaitlin Cywinski and Hannah and Sofie Richter, all currently in high school. The band hopes to accomplish much even though they are still fairly new to the industry and young, forming when the members were just in middle school. 

 “I think our parents were always like bringing us to concerts playing music around the house, so it was kind of like, ingrained in us to love music,” Kaitlin Cywinski said. “And then I think in middle school, we all kind of started playing music and just decided to start jamming together. And then the thing that really got us started and got us taking it seriously was the show that we played at the Empty Bottle (a venue in Chicago) in the new year of 2023. And that show was so fun. It was like, sold out. And I think that was the moment that we were like, ‘Oh, we love playing music.’”

When talking about her influences in music Kirchbaum said that a lot of folk bands and singer-songwriter artists like Taylor Swift influenced her. She said that she felt like growing up in the 2000’s people were starting to just be very specific and raw which shaped the way she writes. 

Megan Gerold

“I wasn’t afraid to write things that were sad, as we get older as there are more women in music that are describing their honest true experiences, I feel like people are just unabashedly writing sad stuff and that’s fine,” Kirchbaum said. “I feel like earlier people didn’t want that, especially with women, they just wanted it to be fun and I feel like now I can be really unapologetic about my feelings and really honest.”

Neptune’s Core said that they sometimes struggle with being taken seriously as younger artists, but that they had a very positive experience at SXSW. They saw the festival as an important experience and an opportunity to prove themselves. 

“Sometimes it feels like we have to prove ourselves because of our ages,” Kaitlyn Cywisnki said. “But we’ve been pretty fortunate in which we have proven ourselves, and it sucks to have to do that. But like, if you just keep working it’ll happen.”

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