SXSW: Then & Now
I’m going to take a trip down memory lane to give you an inside look at the infamous SXSW Music Festival. During my time in Los Angeles, I served as the singer/frontman of the L.A. based hard rock band Deepdown. We played the Sunset Strip for years, and headlined every club in Hollywood many times. The Whisky A Go-Go, The KeyClub, The Viper Room, and The Roxy. During our early days of playing the L.A. scene, we gained momentum fast. We were invited to play the NXNW Music Festival held in Portland, OR in 1998, and after our performance we were approached by a woman who was in charge of booking artists for the upcoming SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. She offered us a gig at SXSW on the spot, and we were ecstatic about that.
The SXSW festival used to be mainly a music festival, with a few days at the beginning dedicated to upcoming buzz-worthy film professionals. Most bands or artists that were accepted to perform at this festival would flock to Austin prepared to find a record deal, some connections, and some late nights partying with attendees. There has always been a variety of noteworthy speakers at this event, and lectures giving advice on how to succeed in today’s music industry.
In recent years, I’ve been seeing article after article about SXSW, and how it relates to interactive technology and developers. Since I’m currently a member of the Boston venture capital firm OpenView Venture Partners, I’m seeing the opportunities for exposure and networking much more clearly than when I performed at this years ago as an artist. Louis Black is one of the festival founders, and he had some interesting thoughts to share. Black mentioned that the music and film events have always been growing since the festival’s inception, but the most interesting and profound growth has been with SXSW Interactive, which showcases online innovations and video games. “Interactive, in the last three years or so, has probably been the biggest of its kind in the world,” Black said.
Beth Krauss, a spokeswoman for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, ““It used to be that music was the biggest, but now interactive is growing much more.” If you are a startup or have reached the expansion stage, and have a product or service that is relevant to social networking, the music industry, the film industry, or the gaming industry, you should absolutely attend this event. It is literally a networking festival! A few exhibitors confirmed for the Interactive portion of this year’s event are Animoto, Bandize, and Toodalu. Whether your company is looking for investors, or just want to enjoy some enlightening speakers and industry professionals speak their mind, I’d highly recommend putting this on your agenda to check out.