SXSW, or South By Southwest as it used to be known, is the largest music festival conference in the USA. It goes on for 10 days in March, and even if you are only there for a few days, it feels like the full 10 days. It starts with interactive and film, and moves its way into music and every brand you can think of is there. Music is always part of it, but the music festival itself is something to be observed. Around 3000 official and unofficial artists and bands play the festival and parties. Everyone from Lady Gaga a few years ago, to Kanye, Jay Z, even Garth Brooks played this year. Willie Nelson even holds an annual showcase at his Luck Ranch during it. Keynote speakers during the conference have included Michelle and Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Al Gore, Rachael Ray, Robert Plant, Edward Snowden, and Mark Zuckerberg; you see where I am going. It’s a big conference and everyone wants to be a part of it.
Around 500,000 people flock here to drink a lot of free liquids, consume BBQ like it’s the last time, and first and foremost, to discover music. Music is the essential part of why the festival exists in the first place. The festival started in 1987 with 30 bands and 700 attendees, and has since become a catalyst for many a young band to find fame. Even though it’s now morphed into a celebrity packed film festival, an interactive conference where tech converges, music is still the biggest component. This year gaming was a big hit with a new game expo and conference added to the 2017 program. I went into the expo and my 10 year old self hit the ground running. During all phases of the festival/conference people will find themselves spending weeks RSVPing to the hundreds of parties that are all free and held by brands such as Mazda, Media Temple, Fast Company, Samsung, Taco Bell, HBO, Stubhub, Rachael Ray and many more. Arms will be decorated and displayed like badges of honor, in many colors of wristbands for entry.
I was there, my 13th year, and I discovered some amazing music I want to share with you. I will have more full interviews but for now, here are some snippets of bands:
Allison got her big break in the music industry by writing for MTV/Vh1 where she interviewed everyone from Prince, to Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Blink 182 and many more. From there she started Hyperactive Music Magazine that went national. Shaw then produced several big festivals and went to work for Rachael Ray’s Entertainment company. Shaw started Manic Monkee MGMT which manages bands and does brand strategy for all kinds of brands in music/tech/consumer products and aligns brands with events. The company also produces events. Shaw is also on the Board Of Directors for non-profit music charity Sweet Relief. Follow her on Twitter at @manicmonkee