Outside Industry: The Story Of SXSW

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In 1987, Austin, Texas was a college town with a vibrant live music scene but very little sway in the music industry, and a handful of music fans decided to do something about that. They founded the South By Southwest Music Festival (abbreviated as SXSW), conceived as an event that would bring together music business players and independent musicians looking for a leg up in their careers. Financed with $70,000 in borrowed funds, the first SXSW didn't make much money but attracted seven hundred attendees, and that number grew dramatically over the next few years. Today, SXSW is one of the biggest music events in the United States (a film festival and interactive technology forum have been added to the program), and has become an important place to see and be seen as record label executives search for the Next Big Thing and musicians lien up for a chance to get their big break. But has SXSW strayed from its original purpose in providing a more level playing field for indie artists, becoming just another part of the corporate music world? Filmmaker Alan Berg offers a look at the history of SXSW, how it has grown and the controversy that has followed it in the documentary Outside Industry: The Story Of SXSW, which features interviews with the festival's founders and staff as well as Austin artists who share their mixed feelings about the annual event that has put their town on the entertainment industry map. Fittingly, Outside Industry received its world premiere at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival.


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