Coke. NPR. Spotify. If you’ve been to SXSW this year, no doubt you’ve been subjected to the advertising whims of countless corporate shills in the form of show banners, giveaways, and app invitations. But it wasn’t always like this. I’m here to remind you of the early days when SXSW was full of authentic multinational corporations that actually gave a shit about the music, unlike these money grubbing brands we’re stuck with now.
Imagine if the original sponsors — those legendary marketing teams from Myspace, JNCO, and Nokia — could see what their blood, sweat, and tears wrought all these years later. These new too-big-to-fail incorporated entities are spitting on the memories of people like me, who ended many a South By night drunkenly waiting in line for a free order of small fries from Chi Chi’s food truck. That Chi Chi’s is now a fucking Chick-Fil-A for God’s sake.
Austin, Texas doesn’t belong to these newjack assholes in their fancy Teslas bought straight off some Whole Foods lot in San Francisco — it belongs to the people, the musicians, and whatever think tank created the Microsoft Zune.
Do you think ANY Snapchat stockholder has even heard of the bands they’re promoting? I think not. This year’s corporate sponsors make me long for the days when Yahoo! and AOL would fill their shows with up-and-coming local bands — so long as they were willing to play after midnight and they paid for their own parking.
Those were the days.
It’s a sobering day when something as pure as SXSW can become even more corporatized in such a short amount of time. I might end up skipping the technology conference part of the fest altogether this year.
How many songs by The Hold Steady do you still have stored on the Zune you copped at SXSW back in the day? Let us know in the comments below!
Article by Marc Finn @marc__finn