Saul Hansell Defends AOL’s Seed’s SXSWi Efforts

SXSW2010Logo.jpgSaul Hansell, programming director for AOL’s Seed, may have provided the quote of the day to Silicon Alley Insider, although the day is still young: “If you think that of any set of 500 writers that all of them would have met their deadlines, I don’t know what species of creature you’ve been observing.”

Hansell was responding to a follow-up question by Silicon Alley Insider about doubts over Seed’s plans to publish interviews with all 2,000 or so bands that were set to appear at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.

Hansell’s email to Silicon Alley Insider:

I think the project is going great. At last count, we had interviews with 80 percent of the bands that are still playing published. That is a result of a lot of very hard work by both Seed contributors and Spinner editors who are not getting much sleep these days. The SXSW festival, after all, doesn’t release half the band names until two weeks before the start of the music festival.

To be honest, I think I’ve been a little sloppy in how I’ve talked about this project. I’ve been saying we wanted to publish interviews with 2,000 bands. That’s patently impossible. No one in journalism can talk to absolutely everyone he or she wants to interview. Not Barbara Walters. Not Tom Friedman. And certainly not anyone who tries to track down indie rock bands driving around the country from gig to gig sleeping on friends’ couches or in the back of their 1987 Corollas.

What I meant to say is we would reach out to all 2,000 bands. We’ve done that, and we will keep doing so. Let me ask this: Do more than 80 percent of the calls that Business Insider places to sources get returned?

As for the email, what do you think we’d be doing two days before the festival? If you think that of any set of 500 writers that all of them would have met their deadlines, I don’t know what species of creature you’ve been observing.

The point of this project was twofold: to give Spinner readers something interesting and useful they simply could not find anywhere else and to show the world Seed is not some cynical attempt to game search engines with worthless mush rewritten from Wikipedia.

Judge for yourself how well we’ve achieved those goals already. I’ve spent most of the last few days in the convention center in Austin, and I feel great about what we’ve done and excited about where we’re going.