There have been several articles written of late and lots of industry chatter about how SXSW is “dead.” Having just come back from a week sojourn at the fabled industry event, I am here to attest that SXSW is “alive and kickin.”
Note: This editorial was written by Magisto’s Chief Marketing Officer Reid Genauer. It appeared last month on Digital Media Wire. The post was inspired by Reid’s trip to SXSW as part of a partnership between Magisto and The Austin Chronicle, in which thought leaders shared the SXSW experience through Magisto Movies. You can view the results at magisto.com/sxsw.
There have been several articles written of late and lots of industry chatter about how SXSW is “dead.” Having just come back from a week sojourn at the fabled industry event, I am here to attest that SXSW is “alive and kickin” (although I’m not sure my liver is). I’ll admit it. In some ways South By Southwest has jumped the shark if nothing else just due to its massive size (and the presence of every consumer brand known to mankind) BUT for the most part it’s still everything it’s cracked up to be and more.
Sure there was a time and place when SXSW was an exclusive club for the Rock and Roll elite, Tech digirati- the who knows who of “tech cool”, cocaine and commercial music. YES – Twitter and FourSquare “broke” at SXSW. Odds are those where anomalies and not the rule. So if you’re disappointed that Grumpy Cat was the only break out of this year’s South By get over it! South By South West rules and here’s why.
Relative Comparisons: Compare the vibe at SXSW to any other trade show and this case is closed. SXSW is a melting pot of industries and disciplines that spans technology to art. It is hands down the most hip trade show there is. SXSW is truly Juan In A Million. Full stop.
Mixture of Culture and Technology: In many ways technology is the new rock and roll. Both cultures covet creativity, disruption and do it yourself zeal. SXSW is one of the few places that embraces art and technology in a holistic end to end way. It’s the only place where rock stars mingle with VCs at scale. It’s like the Apple of trade shows. For a guy involved in technology, videography and music, it’s a powerful place to mingle and network with a full spectrum of industry stakeholders.
City of Austin: In the ever expanding sea of Staples, Super 8, McDonald’s, and Home Depot that is America –Austin is a beautiful city. It’s a mix of modern elegance and old Texas charm that is hard, if not impossible, to find anywhere else in Texas, if not the entire U.S. Anywhere that has a barbeque joint called The Salt Lick has got to be happening right? Salty meats is good!
Planning and Preparation: The City of Austin city gets it and they embrace it. SXSW helps the city prepare for the swell of humanity. The two entities partner and as a result the event is well planned and well executed. Austin and SXSW nurture each other in a way that serves the convention and the city
Authenticity: SXSW was born out of the back room of the Austin Chronicle, Austin’s local newspaper. Its started as an intimate gathering of music professionals and bands. Doritos sponsored events or not this conference has maintained a creative edge. There’s a SXSW aesthetic that individuals and brands aspire to. Sure some miss the mark but they are better for trying and the bar for the convention is raised by the aspiration.
Food: If you ever find yourself holed up and hungry in an overpriced and under sanitized La Quinta in route to the airport, might I suggest Amaya’s Taco Village for lunch, dinner and/or breakfast. At 3am there is always Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese. And the Best Mexican food and street meat I have ever had, hands down.
Music: There is no other trade show with as much good music anywhere on the face of the planet. SXSW exudes a festival atmosphere that permeates the back alleys of Austin as well as the backroom deals made during the conference. Good things happen when people are inspired by good music!
Weather: SXSW happens in March in Texas. Its a time of year when those of us from the more frigid parts of the word (North Eastern U.S. and Europe) are ready to jump. Stepping off the plane in Austin to find cherry blossoms, warm breezes and cold beer is a rebirth. Long live SXSW and early spring.
Innovation: It is true that SXSW has ballooned in terms of size and duration but it has evolved as well. It’s not just more technology companies building larger trade show booths and announcing their newest line of feature rich hardware. Bands, Film Makers and Entrepreneurs rule the day at South By. Large tech firms and brands have to scramble to keep up year after year. It forces innovation and creativity around how companies chose to engage the conference goers. One of this year’s stand out marketing marvels was the fur encased Task Rabbit van. I was also impressed by The Wall Street Journal’s hip roof top hang. Not a suit to be found.
Age and Gender: This is a young conference that attracts more tattooed mid 20 year olds than fat middle aged guys in Dockers. Its balanced in terms of age and gender. That’s gotta be good!
WATCH MAGISTO VIDEOS CREATED BY “A” LISTERS AND THOUGHT LEADERS FROM SXSW 2013:
Ned Sherman: CEO | Digital Media Wire: Movie: Street Scenes From Austin SXSW
Panos Panay: Founder and CEO | Sonicbids Movie: Panos’ SX13
Dan Zaccagnino: Co-founder | Indaba Music Movie: Street Art
Andy Cohn: Publisher | Fader Magazine Movie: Building a Fort
Kristen Chase: CEO/Co-Publisher | Cool Mom Tech Movie: Eating My Way Through Austin
Brian Zisk: Executive Producer | SF MusicTech Summit Movie: SXSW PediCab Ride
Karen Allen: VP Client Services | TAG Strategic Movie: Austin Light Park
Jack McFadden: Talent Buyer | Austin City Limits Movie: Nick’s Secret Handshake Party with BNLX
Tiffany Neece: Director of Sales | The Long Center Movie: Falling Bones
Carter Brokaw: CRO | Slacker Radio Movie: SXSW
Jim Lucchese: CEO | The Echonest Movie: Take 2
The Austin Chronicle | Local Austin Newspaper Movie: Arlyn Studios
In Rock Reid Genauer Chief Marketing Officer, Magisto