Rocking it at SXSW
South By Southwest (SXSW) is the music/movie/new media mecca of North America. Taking over the streets and venues of Austin, Texas every spring, SXSW is one of the United States' largest music festivals.
Don't let the term "music festival" fool you — it's not a field strewn with mud-slinging hippies — it's at the top of the list of mustattend events for anyone in the music, film and web industries. Over the course of 10 days, SXSW is host to 2,000 musical acts, 250 films and over 13,000 industry representatives.
Since the first festival in 1987, SXSW has transformed from a crowd of 700 to almost 40,000 registrations for the music, movie and interactive conferences. The rising interest in the festival/conferences is easily explained when you look at their track record of premiering some of the best new artists, movies and Internet technologies of the last few years. These conferences have each had something to brag about recently.
The interactive portion of the SXSW takes place at the beginning of the 10-day festival. A massive gathering of the leaders in web technologies, SXSW Interactive was the launch pad for social-media juggernaut Twitter in 2007. Austin sees massive increases in mobile network usage during the festival, due in part to the attendee's use of Twitter and other social apps on their smartphones.
SXSW Interactive gave attendees a say in what keynote speakers they'd like to see next year by voting on the SXSW website. Those speakers will join the ranks of Robert Rodriguez, Mark Zuckerburg, Neil Young and Johnny Cash as industry leaders that have spoken at SXSW.
The SXSW Film Conference and Festival runs through most of the 10-day festival and screens over 250 films. Recent years' standouts included Kick-Ass, The White Stripes documentary Under Great White Northern Lights, and Academy Award winner The Hurt Locker.
The music segment of the festival typically wraps it up. Over 2,000 acts were on the bill during the four days of music — more than three times the amount of Canada's biggest music festival/conference, North by Northeast. Austin finishes it off with their annual Austin Music Awards.
And yes, NXNE is our take on SXSW. Mind you, NXNE (hosted in Toronto) is a bit easier to get to … and afford. A SXSW "Gold Badge," which gets you all 10 days of music, movies and interactive, runs for $650! Add the $600+ flight and you're pushing $1,300. Wow. Maybe NXNE isn't so bad. At $350 plus the $20 bus ride to Toronto, you might just see me there next year.
But really, 2,000 bands?! That's a hell of a lot more variety than we're going to get at Call the Office … in the next four years!