Taking witty, informed aim at a number of targets including the music business, the death penalty, landmines and oppression of the poor, Steve Earle delivered a focused, succinct keynote address to begin this year’s South by Southwest music conference. Past speakers at the annual event have mixed music and commentary. Earle left his guitar at home, instead delivering a prepared speech from behind a podium. The 42-year-old singer, songwriter, producer and record company owner is a 25-year veteran of the music business. He drew on his experiences to make points about the challenges facing artists today.