The South By Southwest music and media conference in Austin, Texas, seems to grow exponentially each year and this time it brought in 24,000 revelers checking out 1,600 events – and a bunch of sponsorships.
The infusion of corporate money and sponsors who are creating invite-only affairs doesn’t jibe with the original blue-collar, indie spirit of the event, and SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson is spending more of his time doing police duties.
Swenson told the Wall Street Journal that the tables have turned, with corporate sponsors claiming themselves the underdogs.
"They’re the rebels and we’re ‘The Man,’" Swenson said. But there are more and more companies that aren’t adhering to the festival’s rules, and SXSW organizers are calling in complaints to fire marshals and taking party promoters to court.
Swenson took extreme measures last year, shutting down unaffiliated events, the WSJ said. He reported more than 100 parties to fire marshals.
One event, the "Austin Blowout 2007," was organized by record-label owner Franki Chan. He told the WSJ it took six months to organize, included thousands of dollars of corporate sponsorship money and drew more than 1,000 people. But because of Swenson’s efforts, it was shut down by the fire marshal.