You know, I’m in two minds about the announcement from Apple that the first iTunes Festival outside of the UK is coming to SXSW Music this March. It’s a huge win for SXSW as an organization, and Apple are going to livestream the heck out of the performers taking to the stage at the Moody Theater.
There’s only so many stories that the media can take coming out of Austin in March. With only four days of music, the major digital and print publications have limited space to cover the event. The management of every one of those publications will be looking at the page views and ad impressions; the focus will go to the stories that get the social shares, eyeballs, ‘viral’ traffic, and increased click-through rates. With the best intentions in the world, the stories will be written around the same names you see at the MTV Awards, the VH-1 Documentaries, and on ‘The Tonight Show With Jack Parr‘.
And don’t get me started on the flood of US Talk Shows setting up camp in Austin taking out even more of the PR oxygen…
So it’s great that Apple are here. I just wish that their announcement had not included names like Coldplay, Keith Urban, or Pitbull. If Apple had brought everything to SXSW but filled the line-up with the best new and unknown artists that Southby can serve up (Ages and Ages, Honeyblood, Bring Me The Horizon, Ruby Jane,spring to mind out of the two thousand to choose from) then I would have had a lot of respect for the Festival coming to Austin and honoring the space.
Right now it feels like Apple are joining the big brand names, bringing in the big band names, and turning the word on the street from ‘did you come across Mia Dyson?’ to ‘did you get an Apple ticket?’
That’s not what SXSW means to me.