— Colin Daniels, Managing Director SXSW Sydney
The first event, held in March 1987, saw an expected 150 registrants swell to 700 on the opening day. As hoped for, Austin’s charm won over the visitors and SXSW took on a life of its own. Notable showcasing artists included Reverend Horton Heat (Dallas TX), Bad Mutha Goose (Austin TX) and Lonesome Strangers (Los Angeles CA). 15 Panels, workshops and sessions took place, featuring Jody Denberg, Jim Dickinson, Kevin Wommack, Joe Nick Patoski, Kim Buie, Mark Josephson, Ernie Gammage and Jeff Whittington.
Remembered for the Johnny Cash keynote/performance, two new events - Interactive and Film - were introduced. The inaugural offering featured eight panel sessions with 36 total speakers and two world premieres and was called the SXSW Film and Media Conference (SFMC). The film and digital communities, still early in the internet’s conception, found a home in SXSW, marking a fundamental shift in how the world viewed SXSW.
Alongside SXSW Film, the Music Festival swelled to 1,278 Showcasing Artists across 55 Venues, including Sydney rock band The Church, Petty Booka (Tokyo), Dizzee Rascal (London), Franz Ferdinand (Glasgow), Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (New York), The Killers (Las Vegas), N.E.R.D (Virginia Beach, VA), and Joss Stone (Devon, UK). On top of the jam-packed line-up, Little Richard delivered an iconic Music Keynote.
Twitter ‘caught fire’ at SXSW 2007 when it offered its platform to event delegates, launching the social media company into the stratosphere. SXSW PanelPicker® launched, opening up conference programming decisions to the creative community. For the Music Festival, 1,580 showcasing artists took to the stage, including Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Bjorn & John, Public Enemy and Sydney’s own Hoodoo Gurus. At SXSW Film, there was the World Premiere of Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, including talent features from Seth Rogen, Seth MacFarlane, Isla Fisher, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and more.
Both Michelle and Barack Obama delivered ground-breaking keynotes, alongside Kevin Plank (Under Armour), Andy Puddicombe (Headspace), and Stewart Butterfield (Slack). The Music Festival showcased 2,224 Artists including Iggy Pop, Låpsley, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, and Perth’s own Troye Sivan. Film Keynotes included Nelson George, Gale Anne Hurd, and Ellen Page, with work-in-progress screenings of Keanu and Sausage Party.
Despite the challenge of moving a whole event online, SXSW beat the odds and delivered a stellar line-up. The SXSW Online Conference featured Willie Nelson, Ava DuVernay, Mick Fleetwood, James Cameron and many more. The SXSW Online Film Festival featured a whole range of screenings including Demi Lovato’s TV Series, Dancing with the Devil, while the SXSW Online Music Festival saw performances from Australia’s own Baker Boy, the Chats and Indigo Sparke, and Mercury Prize nominees Black Country, New Road (UK).
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