The Roots performing at SXSW 2017
The Roots performing at SXSW 2017. Photo by Vickey Ford / Sneakshot Photography

Beats ‘n Bytes: Here’s 5 Things You Need To Know in Hip-Hop + Tech

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Photo provided by Nue Agency.

Back in the saddle after a week at SXSW.

I must of ran into everyone and their sister this week in Austin at SXSW.

So much fun as always. I think the magic of SXSW is everyone is off of their native soil and in Austin to mix and mingle.

Truly is an exchange of ideas where collaborations happen and ideas spark!

Although the scene is changing, it’s good to see so many platforms utilizing hip-hop to headline their events.

Mass Appeal x Lil’ Wayne. The Roots did another jam session with Bud Light. Soylet had GZA perform. Cam’Ron headlined TuneIn. Warren G at The Casper pop up. Busta Rhymes headlined Samsung’s party. Hooch tapped Ja Rule. Shazam and Wyclef Jean.

The list goes on and on.

Here are this week’s Beats & Bytes providing all the things you need to know about hip-hop tech:


Visa's new contactless payment card is a pair of sunglasses

Visa announced today that it will be starting a new pilot program of contactless payment-enabled sunglasses. The glasses appear to be a regular pair of shades — with the addition of a small contactless card that allows the sunglasses to work as a contactless payment method.


Meet SwapBots, an augmented-reality toy that pairs with the iPad

SwapBots is a new line of physical toys that spring to life when paired with a smartphone or tablet, thanks to augmented reality. The toy itself is made up of various blocks that you stack up, three pieces high, to make a character—pick between different feet, torsos, and heads. The blocks are lightweight, and are easier to stack than your standard Lego bricks.


Sony's virtual reality suit is why people go to SXSW

South by Southwest isn't CES, and that's a good thing. It's all about bringing bizarre prototypes and big ideas to life, like Sony did with its Wow Factory.


Shazam Keeps it Real with Wyclef

Shazam leverages Wyclef Jean’s new EP drop to debut its AR platform. The Fugees lead alum headlines SWXW’s “How Did Shazam Get Wyclef in AR on My Phone?!”


How Spotify is finally gaining leverage over record labels

Spotify has grown to 50 million paid subscribers and a huge base of free ad-supported listeners, it’s emerging from the streaming pack including YouTube / Google Music, Pandora, Apple Music, and Amazon so rights owners can’t just favor them instead. Spotify has begun to gain some leverage over the labels so that it can make money without them and they need it to have a hit record.


Jesse Kirshbaum has been in the trenches of the music business, specializing in securing talent for concerts, tours and endorsement deals for his various clients and brand partners internationally. He founded Nue Agency (a creative agency, recently named to Inc. Mag’s 500 list as the 3rd fastest growing Media Company in America) to sit at the center of culture, brands and technology. He is the host of Hot 97’s new web series Hot In Tech, an authority in Music Tech culture, news and events. Jesse is also the executive producer for both the hit digital series #CRWN and The Annual FlashFWD Awards, which honors premiere stars in Music Tech. @JesseKay on Twitter + Instagram.