Roland Swenson started SXSW 27 years ago as a way to help local music venues during slow part of the year. Today, the event brings in $215+ million each year.
Dear Roland Swenson,
It’s the mooooost wonderful timmmme of the yearrrr (no, not Christmas).
Any great city has that unique time of year when everyone and everything breaks from their usual routine to focus (or avoid) on a city-wide event. New Orleans has Mardi Gras, San Antonio has Fiesta, and of course Austin has South-by-Southwest. Love it or hate it, it is upon us.
I used to pay $300+ to stand in a field for the traditional music festival experience. Everyone’s living out their personal Woodstock fantasy as they wander between the stages and food vendors. The proceedings are nicely curated, mostly orderly.
That is boring. Been there, done that. SXSW rewards the prepared and flexible, the digitally inclined who do months of research scouring Twitter for party info. Those who listen to literally hundreds of mostly unknown bands to build a week of free shows and hopefully new favorite bands. It is a challenge. It is a marathon. Is line is too long at Fader Fort (of course it is)? Get on your bike and it’s onto plan B or plan C or wherever the next place offering free beer is.
To me, SXSW is about about discovery: the discovery of new bands, new ideas, new technology. It fills me with music and inspiration for the rest of the year. And it begins today.
Happy SXSW Roland. I you deserve to be carried through the streets of Austin like a king in a throne throughout the festival.