SXSW has already received a record number of international registrants for 2008. International showcase submissions have topped 2300, representing a 21% increase over 2007. As of now, artists from 43 foreign countries have been invited to perform at SXSW 2008.
Spain will make a substantial debut at SXSW 2008 with a national stand at the Exhibition and Trade Show in the Austin Convention Center and over a dozen groups invited to perform at the music festival. Argentina, too, will have a significant first-time presence and the numbers from Brazil and Mexico are expected to be the largest ever. Delegates from South Africa, Iran, and Korea will be looking to connect with SXSW veteran attendees from Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK, along with their American counterparts.
At SXSW 2007 Gregg Donovan, manager of the Australian rock band Airbourne, met with Steve Schnur and his team from Electronic Arts / Artwerk Publishing: “Shortly after SXSW 2007 we signed to Artwerk and have since been synced on nine of the largest video games on the planet including Madden, NASCAR, Need For Speed & NHL to name drop a few. Can not wait for SXSW 2008!” he raves. Mike Kappas, booking agent for Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, cut a six-figure publishing deal on an Austin sidewalk while two of the band members gave a street performance.
Dave Pichilingi, Director of Music Development Agency Liverpool reports that highly lucrative record deals were initiated at SXSW 2007 for punk pop trio The Wombats and singer-songwriter Eugene McGuinness. He adds that “...other success stories included Creative Cultures, a Merseyside technology company who were able to demonstrate their innovative Bluetooth technology at SXSW resulting in contracts worth over $160,000.”
Internationals are discovering that business is not limited to US-only partners at SXSW. Yvette Ray, manager of the Canadian band Novillero, secured both a European booking agent and New Zealand distribution from their 2007 SXSW performance. Fellow Canadian and Polaris Prize-winner Patrick Watson scored a European label deal with V2 at SXSW and also did some US business by signing with Monterey International Artists for booking. Dave Farrow, manager for the British folk-rocker Seth Lakeman, found that, “...the main benefit behind being invited to do the festival was the exposure to global promoters and agents (not necessarily just American), in particular Dutch promoter Willem Venema and Jack Ross, Vice President of The Agency Group Canada.”
US bands are also doing international business at SXSW. Gogol Bordello made a licensing deal with a Japanese label in 2007. Van Riker, international marketing head for the Portland-based Barsuk label, calls the deal he made for Menomena at SXSW 2007, “...part of the new wave of 360 deals. We signed with City Slang for Europe which included a three-album deal and concert booking.” Austin band Voxtrot signed with British label Playlouder based on a 2006 SXSW appearance.
In whatever direction industry winds may be blowing come March 2008, savvy global business people will be sure to find SXSW an indispensable compass for international opportunity and growth.
South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival, the annual music industry gathering in Austin, Texas takes place March 12 - 16, 2008. To register to attend or for more information, go to website.
SXSW Music is sponsored by Miller Lite, FUZE Beverage, SonicBids, and The Austin Chronicle.