South By Southwest, the iconic “festival of creativity”, will expand to Australia in 2023.
For the past 35 years, Austin, Texas has been the focal point for the world’s music industry each March, as artists, industry figures and music lovers flock to the city’s South by Southwest (SXSW).
More recently, the event has expanded to also incorporate film, tech, gaming and innovation, and quickly became an important event on those industries’ respective calendars as well.
SXSW is a bucket-list pilgrimage for many Australian creators and music lovers, now the dream of attending just became much more attainable.
As of October 2023, Sydney will be the official annual host of the Asia-Pacific installation of SXSW, the first city to host an iteration of the event outside of North America.
The Sydney version of SXSW will feature over 1,000 events, including keynote speakers, panels and summits, product demonstrations, artist performances, screenings, live gaming sessions and networking events and parties.
It will feature the same breadth of programming as its Austin counterpart, with music, screen, gaming and tech all to feature across the one-week event.
Past keynote speakers have included Johnny Cash, Stacey Abrams, Elon Musk, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Lizzo and Mark Zuckerberg.
For musicians, SXSW is notable as the emerging place artists go to be discovered, with countless high-profile signings coming out of the event across the years.
As it has grown, though, it has also become a hotbed for secret shows, with everyone from Prince to Metallica to Eminem and many more showing up to perform unannounced.
Venues, artists and speakers for the Sydney instalment are yet to be announced.
“An exceptional moment for the Asia Pacific region”
SXSW brings tens of thousands of visitors to Austin each year, with over 2,000 bands and artists performing in venues, conference centers and shopfronts through the city’s main streets.
The New South Wales government are hoping the event will bolster its reputation as a world-class destination for both business and leisure.
“SXSW Sydney will provide significant benefits for the NSW visitor economy, with unparalleled networking opportunities to advance our tech and creative industries, Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Minister for Tourism and Sport and Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayers said.
The news of SXSW’s expansion to Australia has been met warmly by the Australian music industry.
“SXSW Sydney has the potential to capture the minds and imaginations of the next generation of great Australian music creators and entrepreneurs,” APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston said in a statement.
“If Australia is going to realise its goal to be one of the world’s great music markets, we must invest in a new generation of entrepreneurial and culturally and digitally literate creative music producers and artists.”
The ultimate hope for many industry figures is recognition of the value of our creative economy, and they have great hopes that SXSW will help illuminate this.
“As perhaps the largest-scale event since the Sydney 2000 Olympics, SXSW presents a real opportunity for Australia to lead the global discussion in future trends, innovation and the value of the creative economy,” ARIA CEO Annabelle Herd said in a statement.
“This is a genuine game-changer for Sydney’s cultural outlook, but it is also an exceptional moment for the AsiaPacific region, which has long deserved a conference of this scale to acknowledge its undeniable impact on global trends and innovation.”
SXSW will happen in Sydney from Sunday 15 to Sunday 22 October, 2023.