Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

All eyes on Texas as SXSW opens for business

The annual spring break for interactive, music and film freaks and geeks provides many opportunitites for new ideas to flourish

Hot for 2014: queues

Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 10:00


It’s nearly time. From today for the next week or so, the news outlets, social media evangelists, wiseguys, chancers, snark merchants and gurus you rely on for tech, music and film news will be tuned to South By Southwest (SXSW).

The festival in the heart of Texas has become an essential spring break for many in these industries and what happens in Austin often has far-reaching implications. From Twitter using the festival as a launchpad in 2007 to the hundreds of acts who first made an impact at the event, from Bon Iver to Fleet Foxes, SXSW is where things happen.

From the list of speakers and panels, you can already see some of the shape of the land. There will be a big emphasis from the Interactive section on wearable devices, biometrics, data mining and privacy. There’ll even be a touch of Her in the shape of “emotion recognition” company Eyeris.

On the music side of the house, expect a lot of talk around 300, Lyor Cohen’s new next-generation label, where the talent-spotting is as much about the data and metrics around the act as the music they’re making.

Eight new acts who should be making a splash for themselves at SXSW this year include HolyChild, Vance Joy, Royal Canoe, Tove Lo, Sylvan Esso, Lucius, Big Ups, Until the Ribbon Breaks and Thumpers.

But in-between the band-spotting, panel-attending, film-watching and party-going, there should also be some pause for thought. It’s interesting to read Fast Company’s oral history of SXSW Interactive and note how much has changed. As the years went by, the festival grew and grew and now attracts much different audiences. But the core idea about having a bunch of smart, savvy people talking about and discussing interesting stuff remains. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.