Fans flock to SXSW festival in record numbers
By Chris Baltimore
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - For fans that crowded into Austin's streets, clubs and even churches last week, the South by Southwest Festival was about drinking a lot of beer, eating barbecue and hearing some of the world's hottest bands.
But for music executives that flocked to the event on Sunday, the 10-day music, film, and interactive industry networking marathon was an chance to live on the razor's edge of technology and glimpse of the industry's changing face.
By nearly all measures, the festival, now in its 24th year, was bigger than ever with a record 13,022 music industry professionals registered. Acts like Courtney Love's band Hole and the Stone Temple Pilots used the festival as a springboard to end a multi-year hiatus from performing live.
Though some attendance figures dipped in 2009, the ongoing recession has not dimmed interest in live music, said Brent Grulke, the festival's creative director.
"Although the music industry has changed, music itself and those who pursue it remains as healthy as ever," Grulke said.
Nearly 2,000 artists from over 40 countries played in the music portion of South by Southwest, also dubbed as SXSW, that ran through Sunday, up about 100 from last year. The festival has grown from humble roots in 1987 to become a must-attend event for global music business rainmakers and taste-makers.
At the related film festival, attendees got a sneak preview of the movie "Predators" and other films like "Kick-Ass."
About 100,000 people were expected to visit Austin last week for the festival that attracts about $100 million to the economy of Austin -- capital of the Lone Star state. Official figures are still being totaled. Continued...