It’s summer camp for the music industry, the launch pad for high-tech startups, one of the country’s premier film festivals, the most extensive collection of booze-drenched parties anywhere, and arguably the biggest music and media event of the year. It’s South by Southwest, and it’s coming to Austin sooner than you think.
SXSW back story
Austin’s annual week and a half of indie mayhem started out as a local weekend music festival back in 1987. Organizers expected about 200 people to show up, but attracted more than 700 instead. The festival has grown exponentially each year since — last year, about 49,000 people came for the music, the films, the tech conference, and the parties.
Over the years, SXSW has been a showcase for musicians from all over the world. The film festival has premiered small films that went on to win big awards. SXSW Interactive has been the stage for ground-breaking technology and, in recent years, a beehive of networking for entrepreneurs.
Scheduled to explode on the Austin scene March 7 – 16, this year’s event opens with five days of SXSW Interactive sharing the stage with SXSW Film, which continues through March 15. While details of many of Interactive conferences, presentations, and workshops haven’t yet been announced, organizers have revealed that the lineup includes more than 700 confirmed sessions, including Blake Mycoskie of TOMS, Rosario Dawson and Voto Latino, and Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe.
In addition to screening documentaries, shorts, full-length narratives, big-name productions, and indie discoveries from all over the world (last year 109 films were seen over 9 days) SXSW Film is introducing a daily Keynote for attendees. Three speakers have already been announced: Lena Dunham, Jason Blum, and Casey Neistat. The film festival also features a wide variety of panel sessions, workshops, and mentoring meet ups designed to support and inspire novice film makers.
And then there’s the music. SXSW Music kicks off on March 11 and runs through the duration of the festival. Past iterations have featured as many as 2,200 bands — local, regional, national, and international — on 100 stages, and this year will be no exception. Hundreds of acts are already confirmed, and information is updated regularly on the SXSW website. There are also more than 100 sessions announced, with topics ranging from mobile music in Africa to copyright law and the science of rhythm and its effect on the brain.
Exhausting and exhilarating, SXSW really packs the crowds into Austin. Hotel rooms are often reserved a year in advance, and many attendees find themselves staying 20 miles outside of town. That’s a mighty long trip at the end of a full day of sessions, a long night of music, and all the socializing and partying that comes along with it.
Our suggestion? Private limousine pick-up and drop-off service. Let the pros navigate the traffic, and relax in luxurious comfort. We’re Austin natives and SXSW veterans. We’ll get you where you’re going and back again, in clean, cool, uncrowded privacy. After mixing with the sweaty crowds and dancing till dawn, you’ll love it.