Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 | 5 min read
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals have become a cultural phenomenon, with countless artists getting their start at the annual gathering. The Festivals bring together top emerging creatives and give them a platform to find their audiences.
Having the power to bring unknown names to the masses has been one of the main draws of SXSW, which is held annually in Austin, Texas in mid-March. With decades-worth of new artists breaking through the noise at SXSW, it makes sense that a number of household names owe their fame – in large part, at least – to the event.
We’ve rounded up some examples of genres, platforms, and artists that found their big breaks at SXSW.
You might be familiar with Mumblecore movies now, but the genre is relatively new to the film industry. It’s typified by low-budgets, unknown actors, and a focus on the daily doldrums of young adults.
But did you know that Mumblecore has its roots at SXSW?
While the first recognized mumblecore film, Funny Ha Ha, was produced in 2002, the genre itself wasn’t established until 2005, when SXSW began screening a number of films in this category. Andrew Bujalski is generally considered the father of Mumblecore, having directed Funny Ha Ha.
It’s hard to imagine a time before Twitter, and yet the social network — and social media in general — are still recent additions to the overall media landscape.
In fact, Twitter was first introduced to the masses at SXSW Interactive in 2007. Two years later, we met Foursquare at the same venue.
Shortly after its introduction, Twitter managed to break 60,000 tweets shared on the platform. It was a milestone then, but a drop in the bucket compared to the 500 million tweets now sent each day (that’s 6,000 tweets every second!). It’s safe to say that the $11,000 Twitter spent on its conference booth back in 2007 was well worth the investment.
While SXSW is more well known as a music and entertainment showcase, the event draws people from a very wide range of sectors. The next big thing isn’t always a music or film phenomenon — new ideas, technologies, and sectors are also discovered each year at SXSW.
But, speaking of music, there have been many, many musicians who’ve hit it big thanks to SXSW performances. We’re not going to list them all here, but there are two in particular who reached mega-stardom as a result of the Festival.
Way back in 2001, a teen-aged Katy Hudson was getting her start as a Christian rock singer and songwriter. While her music got great reviews, her albums drew dismal sales and she was dropped from two different record labels in those early years.
By 2008, Hudson had adopted a new moniker, taking her mother’s maiden name and re-introducing herself as Katy Perry on the SXSW stage. She veered far away from Christian rock and rose to be the colorful pop star we know today.
Another singer who found international stardom thanks to the SXSW Festival was Amy Winehouse. While she already had a strong following in the UK, her music hadn’t made it across the pond until her 2007 SXSW showing.
Though her SXSW debut was met with mixed reviews (not everyone appreciated her signature look), her vocal talent was hard to ignore. Winehouse struck the right cords with listeners, leading to several Billboard top hits, including a Top 10 Hit with her infamous song, “Rehab.” It’s hard to imagine what her career would look like today, but we’d like to think that she’d continue to turn heads as the worldwide phenomenon she was.
The 2019 SXSW Music Festival line-up promises a diverse mix of talent across genres. Attendees can expect to hear new sounds and see some familiar faces. With more than 2,000 Showcasing Artists slotted to perform, there will be no shortage of of music options at the Festival.
And as always, the SXSW will feature much more than emerging musicians and art. Conference Tracks range from Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies, to Style & Retail, to Experiential Storytelling, to Cannabusiness, and more.
The Trade Show portion of SXSW 2019 will feature a Discovery Stage, Startup Village with small businesses in a range of sectors, a VR/AR experience, and more. Visitors will be immersed in the latest technologies while learning about the next breakthroughs in business and research.
Based on what we’ve seen from previous festivals, we can expect breakout stars across all industries. And as for Sprinklr, we’ll be bringing the love.
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