South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference, the third and final installment of the SXSW Annual Conference, is the world’s leading music industry event.

 

During the day, the atmosphere is more akin to the spirit of the Interactive conference with panels, talks, a trade show, the Music Gear Expo, and other conference activities meant to stimulate innovation in the music industry. By night, the scene transforms to a musical wonderland. This year, the event featured over 2,200 musical performances on over 100 stages.

 

The keynote speaker for the conference this year was five-time Grammy award winner and pop icon Lady Gaga. Instead of choosing a more formal podium-style speech (such as last year’s speaker, Dave Grohl), Gaga opted for an intimate question-and-answer interview with Fuse network’s John Norris to discuss the challenges Gaga experienced in 2013.  The hour-long interview took place at 11am on Friday, March 14 at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin, Texas.

 

Despite being named “Time” magazine’s second most influential person of the decade in 2013, it appears that Gaga’s life in 2013 was tumultuous. She discussed canceling her tour to have hip surgery, splitting with manager Troy Carter, and how her third studio album, “ARTPOP,” underperformed badly. Furthermore, despite the album’s debut at number one, her label has been dissatisfied with the sales of the album so far, with only 2.3 million units sold since its release last November.

 

Lady Gaga's "ARTPOP" album was released on Nov. 6, 2013.

Lady Gaga’s “ARTPOP” album was released on Nov. 6, 2013.

Compared to her previous two albums, “ARTPOP” has experienced poor sales numbers, relative to her triple platinum debut album, “The Fame,” and her double platinum sophomore album, “Born This Way,” album which had over one million units sold in its first week. “I’m sorry it didn’t sell one million in the first week, but I’m very proud of what we did,” Gaga said, regarding the performance of “ARTPOP.” She insisted that she creates her music for herself and her fans, and that the state of the music industry should not be evaluated on numbers and charts alone.

 

 

“When it becomes complicated like that, do I really want to make music like that on a commercial level? I’ll just go make music downtown. I don’t need all of that negativity,” Gaga said. “And I certainly wouldn’t abandon my morals and core values to be more famous.”

 

Gaga went on to discuss the importance of musicians to stay true to themselves as artists instead of bending to the pressures of fame and success. She described the pressure placed on her and other artists in the music industry by record labels to get more and more fans.  Known for her unique style, many people (mainly men, she said) would tell her to tone down her look and go for a more marketable image in the beginning. Some even went on to say things like, “we want you to be beautiful,” suggesting that Gaga could not be beautiful with such an avant-garde sense of fashion and way of carrying herself. “If I had listened to them, I would not be here today. When you stifle yourself, you feel miserable,” said Gaga. “Don’t do it.”

 

Gaga also appeared in a performance art show sponsored by Doritos earlier in the week, on Thursday night at Stubb’s BBQ.

 

What do you think of Lady Gaga’s message? Do you think that musicians who remain more authentic tend to stick around longer, or do the synthesized chart-toppers have some validity? Let’s discuss this important issue in the music industry here, or you can find me on Twitter @TiffaniJPurdy.