SXSW Music has consistently been evolving into a city-wide festival where indie bands come to be “discovered,” placing themselves in a crowded lineup of showcases in hopes one of them will have an audience member, or two or three, that will either become their fan, give them a headline, or let’s be honest, a feature in a “listicle” on the web. Better yet, it could help advance their career as a band overall. It’s draw has never been the activities confined to badge-holders, especially not those in the convention center.
SXSW Interactive works a bit differently. The convention center and surrounding hotels are its stomping ground. A place of opportunity for startups to meet, mingle and size up. A place for brands to “innovate” with their activations, and a stage for thought leaders to reflect, predict, and inform the tech trends of tomorrow.
But this year felt a little different.
The start ups threw music showcases, and the ad/tech audiophiles showed up with enthusiasm. The brands woo’d startups to their suites, promising to launch the next big thing. The thought leaders thrived on their digital commentary more-so than any stood out on a panel.
So goes the evolution of a music and tech conference–where interactive now feels like a showcase where no single brand, panel, startup, or product stands out IRL, and next year could easily be old news. The real winners of SXSW are the ones who make a digital splash in real time, with announcements and fan fare around their activities. The brands offering experiences over information, and using that momentum to catapult their business off the ground.