Some observations post event from SXSW 2010


I’ve just gotten out of a cab after a 27 hr door to door trip from Austin, TX to Sydney after the whirlwind that was 7 days of SXSW.

It was a great event. Exhausting? Sure. Informative? Definitely! It was somewhat comforting to see that there’s a similar misguided bunch of digital zealots halfway across the world that are happy to take responsibility for everything from Obama being elected to the Haiti earthquate relief, to the liberation of Iranians etc etc just because they are a social media strategist – but one thing I noticed at SXSW was the depth of discussion was greater than what I’ve seen at local conferences (which often turn into a heap of self congratulatory @’ing to mates on Twitter)

I documented some initial thoughts around the Interactive component on Mumbrella.com.au – here’s a summary of some key points from the entire 7 days.


1. There is very little intersection between technology and media within interactive. Tech element seems at times about solving problems which may or may not exist, not so much in the creation and distribution of content. There appears to be an opportunity around generating great, unique content … most focus appears to be on technology solutions not compelling media products.

2. Interactive appears very inward looking. Temptation to overhype what the early adoptors are into without analysing whether these products will have relevance to mass market. Very minimal discussion around how digital and broadcast work together, much more discussion around digital killing TV/radio/everything in its path.

3. Useful data was a theme. Data must have a purpose beyond filling up an excel spreadsheet.

4. Location is big in the US. In LA and Austin Foursquare seemed to make a lot of sense. Still not sure about the longevity in these local services but am sure they will evolve.

5. The us proves TV is still strong. Solid coverage, great ads, good integration. Plenty of life left in the old girl.

6. Lots of fluff about “cultural change” was said. My experience tells me clients want simple, elegant, humble solutions. They don’t want a pitch that would be more at home at the UN general assembly.

7. Spotify generated a great reception … howeverr to launch in the US it will need to be acquired. Too  many hurdles for an EU company in America, especially around music.

8. Live music is now a larger industry than recorded music. The dynamics of the music industry have really shifted over the past 15 years and oddly enough, it’s not all to do with digital (see digital people – you’re not responsible for everything yoiu think you are …) it’s to do with consumers placing a greater value on scarce experiences rather than abundant documents/recordings.

9. Oddly enough the biggest rockstar of the event by far was Evan Williams. He had a bigger crowd than any of the big acts at SXSW and way more fanboys.

10. A festival like SXSW with it’s attendance well over 10-15,000 people teaches you to never undervalue the worth of good information. There’s a need for it and a want. People will pay for content that is unique, limited and provides value. Not everything has to be given away for free.

11. The main takeout from seeing the Interactive and Music conferences was reinforcing the importance of packaging. Presentations, pitches, bands performances, posters, design … The sizzle is incredibly important. Let’s not get caught up in developing completely rational pitches … there’s persuasion, timing and creativity and other elements that are involved.

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2 responses to “Some observations post event from SXSW 2010

  1. Ben, your use of the English language in this post is awful! His name is obviously Evan, not Even, for one. Tssk to you.

  2. Oh, but apart from that, thanks for sharing. Thumb up.

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