I’ve resisted attending SXSW for four years in a row now. It’s easy to do when you have no corporate sponsor to pick up your flights, hotel, meals, taxi rides and bar tabs.
The Integer Group first sent me to Austin in 2003, and that was a special time for me, personally and professionally. It’s when and where Darby and I went on our first date — dinner at Carmelo’s on 5th Street. Professionally, I was exploring and pushing past my role as copywriter, as evidenced by the creation of KTIG, the first agency-owned internet radio station (now defunct). It’s worth noting that I had yet to start a blog in March of 2003. Everything I was doing then was hard coded.
In 2007 and again in 2008, BFG Communications footed the bill and I was grateful that my job at the time required me to attend all three conferences–Interactive, Film and Music. I can’t imagine attending just one at this point. But then, I’m an all or nothing kind of guy.
Taking up the “all” position, Digiday reports:
Brands are out in force, ranging from top sponsors like Pepsi and Chevrolet to MasterCard, Lowe’s and dozens others. One agency CEO fretted weeks ago that he needed to call contacts at startups in order to get clients into hot parties like the one thrown by Tumblr and The Barbarian Group that boasts not one but two stages with bands. “I had to get 20 clients on VIP lists at every party,” the agency chief complained.
I clipped that bit , so we can get to the heart of why agencies and clients swarm like bees on Austin each March. Sure, technology is changing the industry at a dizzying pace, and SXSW provides insights into these important changes which can be taken back to the office and reformulated into something new. Having said that, SXSW is also a grand multi-day mixer, where face time is the ultimate app. It’s a place to meet people who could become new clients, new partners and/or new customers.
If you can’t afford to attend such a party, or don’t care to stand in long lines, the internet is bringing selections of SXSW to the people. Thank you, internet.
Catch some of the live action on Ustream, and at the official conference channel. Naturally, there will also be a copious stream of live tweeting, blogging and other social updating. Which makes SXSW hard to avoid, wherever on earth you are.
Click this: The Austin 100: A SXSW Mix from NPR