What if you could experience the future, today?
That is the experience that South by Southwest (SXSW) produces. Every year, the most brilliant minds and visionaries in the world convene for 10 days in Texas. The conference celebrates the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. SXSW boasts themselves as the premier destination for discovery, fostering creative and professional growth every year at a rapidly increasing rate.
What SXSW Is
SXSW was founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas. Beginning as a music festival, it has since evolved into a Mecca for creatives of all types, expanding into the film and the tech industry. Over 400,000 people from all of the world attend the conference with hopes of networking, learning, and getting their ideas or brand noticed. These attendees include prominent individuals who are there to perform, to speak, or just enjoy the festival. Notable names include Elon Musk, Barak Obama, and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.
As the festival has expanded, it has split into three distinct categories: the festival, the exhibits, and the conference. The festival focuses on music, film, and comedy, while the exhibits shed light on upcoming artists, games, and start-up companies. The conference highlights keynote speakers in areas such as branding, marketing, and technology.
SXSW offer a unique opportunity to explore the world of art through parties, awards, screenings, and showcases. There are a total of four different festivals: the Interactive Festival, the Film Festival, the Music Festival, and the Comedy Festival.
The SXSW Interactive Festival provides a series of networking experiences for attendees. These networking opportunities are constructed to compliment the series of lectures and workshops offered at the SXSW Conference.
The SXSW Film Festival celebrates cinematic innovation and emerging talent, both in front of and behind the camera. No genre is off-limits, and the festival has become renowned as the birthplace of many critically-acclaimed films, such as “Boyhood” and “Ex Machina.”
The SXSW Music Festival invites artists and industry professionals from all across the globe. Iconic performers and emerging artists take the stage over the course of the week, at a plethora of venues. The venues include outdoor stages, bars, churches, and even pop-up venues built specifically for SXSW by companies like Spotify. There is no limit on who or what performs at the SXSW music festival; every genre is celebrated.
The SXSW Comedy Festival features established and emerging talent in the world of comedy. A relatively newer aspect of Austin’s iconic convention, the SXSW Comedy Festival recently expanded from just one night to a whole week of wit and laughter.
In addition to celebrating the arts, SXSW hosts many different world-class exhibitions, geared towards businesses and consumers. SXSW Exhibitions include the SXSW Trade Show, the Marketplace, and the Startup Spotlight.
The SXSW Trade Show is open to innovative businesses and organizations involved in a range of categories, such as media, security, health and fitness, and technology. The purpose of the Trade Show is simple: exposure and networking. No where else will you be able to find as many creative minds working together in one place. In 2018, the Trade Show alone brought together more than 250 exhibitors.
The SXSW Marketplace showcases dozens of local, national, and global brands. At the Marketplace, your business can sell its products to the thousands of SXSW attendees. This niche is ideal for clothing, accessory, or art companies.
The SXSW Startup Spotlight allows startup companies, both big and small, to pitch their ideas to investors and establish one-on-one connections with potential consumers. The Startup Spotlight includes a pitch campaign, where 50 preselected finalists compete in front of a live audience, panel of expert judges, venture capitalists, and high-profile media to win funding.
The SXSW Conference promotes a series of tracks that allow attendees to explore innovation in the world of film, culture, music, and technology. The Conference offers 25 difference programs, involving keynote speakers, featured speakers, and special sessions. The program tracks include relevant topics such as the future of the workplace, cryptocurrency, and branding and marketing. Over the course of the years, the SXSW Conference has proved that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.
Why it Matters
SXSW is a place where some of the most important names shaping our world come together to talk, create, and think. This makes it a premiere place to network. At every turn, there is an opportunity to network. Whether you attend special meetups, Ask the Experts panels, or industry-related cocktail parties, there is always a chance to establish business relationships. AdWeek said, “Few if any events can match SXSW’s eclectic cross-section of industries…the ability to network with peers and others from the creative space is invaluable.”
SXSW offers a stimulating atmosphere that is unparalleled. Austin’s staple event fosters creative and professional growth alike, and acts as a launching pad for new creative content. Whether you’re there to promote your own business, connect with like-minded individuals, or to appreciate other people’s creativity and innovation, there is something for everyone at SXSW.
Vaquero Advertising has a standing tradition of attending SXSW. We co-host the annual Agency Entourage boat party, inviting clients, potential clients, and industry professionals out to Lady Bird Lake. Check out our website to learn more about how you can join us next year, and how we can help build your cultural entourage.
Image from South By Southwest.