SXSW: Where Music, Technology, Movies Come Together

Afro hip-hop musician 9ice has traveled from Nigeria to the United States for an event unlike any other. This week, he and musicians from around the world are in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival.

9ice told VOA he came to Austin to meet people in the music business. "It is to make more fans, you know? Introduce my music to people who haven’t listened to my music before," he said.

What started as a music festival in the 1980s has become an event that is much bigger and harder to define.

"It is a giant party,” said Raymond Wong, who works as a reporter for the Mashable website.

“It is a music festival. It is an entertainment festival. It is a tech show," he added.

Technology and film production companies send representatives to the event.

The SXSW conference and festival has grown over the years because of changes to the economy of Austin, the capital of Texas.

For years, the city has kept close ties to the music industry, “but now we are really in the tech world, said Meghan Berry, who comes from Austin. She has attended the conference for the past 10 years.

“I have a lot of friends that work for film studios here, and so, Austin is growing…So, it makes sense the festival would, too," she said.

The event now includes technology discussions, interactive demonstrations, advertisements for new movies and other events.

"You can go hear a film director,” noted Jesse Needleman, who works in the clothing industry. “You can hear a politician. You can hear someone working on artificial intelligence and do all those things in the space of a morning, which is really interesting," Needleman said.

Many attendees like the meeting places set up throughout downtown Austin, where people can socialize.

“A lot of them have free alcohol (to drink) and free food, and so, it is definitely a perk," Berry said.

These "parties" are places where musicians, techies and others from seemingly very different industries can meet and consider new ways of thinking.

Needleman said that through SXSW, the city of Austin gives people a chance to learn about new ideas and products that they can use for their own businesses.

The hip-hop artist 9ice sees this mixing across industries every day in his music business.

"We have gone away from analog now to digital - mixing, mastering, recording. It's all about technology.”

“Without technology, you cannot do music these days," he added.

Technology and its many uses in different art forms can be seen everywhere at SXSW. Attendees from around the world get a chance to experience it all in Austin.

I’m Dorothy Gundy.

Elizabeth Lee reported this story for VOA. Susan Shand adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

festivaln. a special time or event when people gather to celebrate something

entertainmentn. pleasure that comes from watching a performer or playing a game

artificialadj. not natural or real; man-made

perk – n. something good that you get because of your situation

introduce – v. to bring to a knowledge of someone or something

fann. someone who supports or likes an activity or famous personality