March 16, 2010

SXSW | Austin City Unlimited

For years I looked forward to my annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW).

It was an embarrassment of new rock riches. Days and nights filled with tunes, delicious food and wonderful people. The Texan hospitality was something that stuck with me all year. The memories of past years will be with me for life.

Experience It For Yourself.

If you’ve never been to Austin, you must make a point to do so some day. Sixth Street is a music lover’s dream. It has bar after bar of live music all day and night. It’s a great set up because during SXSW each establishment has 4-5 sets every night and the proximity of all the venues gives you the chance to actually see 4-5 different bands every night.

SXSW also features a convention portion for music industry related issues, panels and presentations. For years it was a chance to check out new bands, learn stuff and catch up with colleagues from all over North America. And sample the aforementioned great food!

South Goes North.

I was then privileged to be on the organizing committee to replicate SXSW in Toronto. The result was the North by Northeast Festival (NXNE). Like SXSW, it has also expanded past music. The 2010 edition in June features 650 bands, 50 venues and 40 films over 7 days.

Go to NXNE if you can. The city is gorgeous in the summer and the downtown core is exciting and alive. It's the most multicultural city on the planet so there are plenty of fabulous places to eat and experience.

Brothers In Arms: Alive and Well.

Today, SXSW and NXNE are thriving. Both continue to support hundreds of up and coming new bands while attendance remains strong. But as the world goes digital and the music industry goes portable, things have changed. SXSWi was introduced a few years back and the event now has sessions, events, presentations and panels about all things digital.

I had expected to join the festivities this year but with CEPSM [client] Canadian government clients’ year end March 31st, that plan was quickly changed. I will keep hope that the 2011 edition is in the cards.

Social Media Onslaught.

Despite the seemingly endless temptation for those attending this year to give a lot of client love and sponsored shout out tweets, if you have ever wondered whether SXSW can be a fun time, mark it down for next year and find out for yourself. The music and media stuff may pique your interest, the people will make it memorable.

If you are at or attended to SXSW this year or any year or wanted to go this year or any other year, please share your thoughts.

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: flickr

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