Two For Tuesday: SXSW

It is possible, (but not recommended to admit publicly), that you are unfamiliar with SXSW.

In their words:  “The South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conferences & Festivals (March 8-17, 2013) offer the unique convergence of original music, independent films and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW® is the premier destination for discovery.”

In these days when the lines between entertainment, technology and advertising are blurred beyond definition, SXSW merges the ideas under one “roof.”  Sponsored parties, smart panel discussions and pulsating music take over Austin, Texas for the 10 day event while tens of thousands of people, mostly in sneakers (a few in suits), mill about getting educated on the up and coming films, musical performances and all forms of emerging medias and mediums.  Marketers and strategists abound in the mix as well (they’re probably the ones wearing suits), wisely seeking ways to influence the influencers as this PRWeek article spells out.

On this Two for Tuesday, I offer a small sample of what my schedule might include if I was in fact in Austin. Let me just start by saying that I am probably older than most who are schlepping all over the Texas town. To be honest, looking at the calendar of events made me tired. There is SO MUCH!  Maybe if I start exercising and eating better now, I will have the stamina to make the full round if I get to the convention next year.

Two Music Selections

Let’s start with music.  SXSW is renowned for releasing some of the best new artists onto the scene. The rise of folks like The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men stemmed largely from last year’s festival. That being said, my first musical point to make is that Blondfire may be on the rise after this year’s convention. I heard “Waves” again this morning on my way into the office, and after last year’s, “Where The Kids Are,“ I personally think this band is due some further fanfare.

Our Space Dave GrohlSecond of my two, but truly the big deal, is going to be the key note performance from Foo Fighters’s Dave Grohl.  Dave is preceded in his important role as key note by the likes of Johnny Cash (1994), Neil Young (2006), Pete Townshend (2007) and last year’s “Boss” Bruce Springsteen. Today, March 12, is the full soundtrack release of Dave’s big project “Sound City: Real to Reel.” The soundtrack follows the February 1, digital film release which chronicles the musical shrine that was Sound City. Check out Billboards article telling more about this history making documentary of some of the best Rock ever recorded.

Quickly now – as this article is already exceeded your attention span I am sure, let me just mention two panel discussions I would have certainly attended if I had been in the Big Horn state.

Two Panel Discussions

Our Space Chuck LorreChuck Lorre (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and A Half Men,” “Dharma and Greg”) is a genius. Can I just say that? I like a guy who is broody and opinionated – it makes for hysterical writing. Chuck shared the stage with another writing genius, Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Coraline). Very different guys with very different flavors of writing. But pure creativity emerges from the same place in all of us – someplace we cannot take credit for; it is not something learned but released.   Those are my words, not theirs, but it’s true nonetheless. Anyway here is a summary of their chat

The other panel discussion that I would have been willing to exhaust myself to get to would be Present Shock with Douglas Rushkoff. Rushkoff is of the same mold as another smart guy I enjoy, Neil Postma. To borrow from this Forbes article, “Rushkoff sees that technology and financial opportunism have strengthened each other in ways that are ultimately not in the greater good.” That one sentence summarized what I so often think. It concerns me. Apparently he has some solutions that his book, entitled the same as his lecture, attempts to offer.  I will read the book.  I would have preferred to hear him speak…

But that is the good part of our present shock. All of the real time data, search-ability of anything allows us to connect with smart articles summarizing the panel discussions, YouTube videos of the smoky performances and trailers of the  hot films are available to us at a click, if not in real time, soon. However, I for one am making plans to be there next year. I think it is wise for businesses and agencies alike to actually be at the “destination of discovery.” I think there is an energy from rubbing shoulders and networking that cannot be done in an office or behind a screen. We must be present with what is emerging now in order to be present in the future marketplace. As uncomfortable as we may be with crowds and overwhelmed as I may be with so many options, the option of being left behind is not one of them.

Besides, good music, intellectual stimulation and hanging out with young people are just nourishing to the soul…Who doesn’t need more of that?

Cover Photo Source: nickmickolas via Flickr
Photo Source 1: nickmickolas via Flickr
Photo Source 2: Angela George via Wikimedia Commons

 Jennifer is Director of Content & Ideation at SJG.  I am convinced that every human being is innately creative – Picasso said the key is to remain childlike within the body of a responsible adult, or something along those lines. As the oldest member of this opinionated clan, I feel responsible to share a different perspective. Engage me – I love a good debate!