A momentous event for music lovers, film enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, the South by SouthWest Conference in Austin Texas celebrates its 25th anniversary, attended by nearly 200,000 participants. SXSW started out as a music festival in 1987 which has now become a congregation for people who have passion for music, flicks, business and positive social impact.
Back in 1987, SXSW was launched by Austin Chronicle co-founder and publisher Nick Barbaro. It became a national even when the expected 150 participants augmented to 700. In 1994, the organizers decided to add film and other media, and dubbed the gathering as “SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference.” The following year, interactive media parted from film and became a category of its own, and the event was therefore called “SXSW Interactive.” ScreenBurn and Twitter were added in the festival in 2006 and 2007 respectively. This event is also where the six-time Oscar award winner Hurt Locker premiered in 2009.
SXSW will last for 9 days: 9 days of industry conference, 9 days of film, 6 days of trade shows and 5 nights of music. It has a total attendance of 197,200 last year, but conference participants were only 159,000. People from outside Austin were estimated to be about 100,000, which is obviously the majority of the attendees. Under the music festival, there are 1,978 acts, 545 international acts, 89 stages and 13,020 conference participants from 49 countries. On the film festival category, there are 277 films screened, 9,500 participants, 1,069 attendees and 33,200 members accumulating film and interactive trade show attendees. Finally, under interactive conference, there are 14, 251 conference participants, 1,540 interactive media in attendance, 43 ScreenBurn Panels covering 30,950 square footage.
The event has gotten a lot of traction on the internet, with offices all over the world including Japan and Ireland, and thus garnered participants overseas. Estimates show that 23 percent of the attendees are from outside US.
With this many people flooding Austin, the event also poses some economic impact; direct, indirect or induced. Direct garnered a total of $75.3 million spent on hotel, restaurant, bars and retailers; Indirect, $21.1 million due to increase in sales, income and jobs from SXSW expenditures; and 16.6 million from induced in terms of companies and people earning money from the event.
These are really huge figures, and you can imagine Austin sinking a couple of feet right now due to nearly 200,000 people adding to its weight. This infographic from Get Satisfaction has the entire breakdown.