The South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) has grown even bigger with each passing year, and 2016 promises to be the biggest year yet for the interactive music/film festival. Several new venues are being added to this year’s event, and networking will play a key part, as clients will be able to meet and discuss upcoming projects.
There are several hot topics making the rounds at this year’s show, including the following:
Stars usually come out to SXSW in spades to hype their forthcoming products, ranging from AAA superstars to Internet sensations like Grumpy Cat. President Barack Obama recently hosted the opening keynote (to a huge online audience), and others stars like comedian duo Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele (advertising their new movie Keanu, which screened at the event), Pee-Wee Herman (who is promoting a new Netflix film) and more are in attendance this week.
It’s a who’s who of superstars that will be at the event, and that’ll be good news for social media, as names like Obama and Herman will create tremendous online buzz for the show. Plus, surprise appearances from new stars could emerge from forthcoming shows like Preacher, which debuts on AMC this May behind the season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead–which should be big news for the channel.
The Stream Is the Thing
For those that can’t attend the event, various panels and activities are being livestreamed from the event, including keynotes and particular panels. This is a great way for the community to get involved in what’s happening with the festival. Social media has also seen a tremendous boost from this, with more people talking about what’s happening at the event.
Twitch also has a tremendous showing, partnering with the team at Razer for a variety of activities, including an eSports tournament stage, a free-play Arcade Bunker and an Indie Corner Geek Stage. A good portion of its activities will be streamed as well, so its vast community of gamers can take part.
Popular “Nerd” Channels Are Thriving
SXSW has seen greater exposure across more areas than film and music over the last few years, thanks to big-name partners that stage their own events during the festival.
This year is no exception, as Nerdist is hosting a number of activities based around its TV shows and programming. Other channels following suit are Geek & Sundry, along with other partners like Rooster Teeth and AMC. These showcases also provide an alternate place for attendees to go if they can’t get into the SXSW venue itself, giving great exposure from outside the main event and creating buzz for particular programs, like the highly anticipated Preacher.
Tech Has Major Appeal At SXSW
While CES, which took place earlier this year, was a haven for new technology (like the Internet of Things-related devices and televisions), SXSW is carving its own niche with technological breakthroughs. For instance, Sony is on hand to showcase its new headset technology, which takes away the traditional cup-over-ear design in favor of something more sleek and effective. Other companies at the event include Samsung (showcasing a new app where songs can be identified by humming them), and Paypal (with its interactive app, which synchs up with car service Lyft).
But the show is also an opportunity for up-and-comers to gain buzz with crowds, like the four students from Stanford Center for Design Research who have managed to make one of the show’s hottest draws, a mobile trash can with built-in cameras to record interactions with people. The team showcased its recordings with consumers who see the trash can, with surprisingly positive results.
Virtual Reality Reigns Supreme
With virtual reality ready to make a killing in the market this year between launches of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and other headsets, it should be no surprise that it’s managed to gain popularity during this week’s SXSW event. A number of companies are showing interest in the technology, demonstrating its potential across various categories, including music, sports and even adult entertainment.
Fortune recently noted a number of examples that include the following:
- Music companies. A lot of companies are looking into recreating the concert experience for those that are unable to attend, as well as innovation with music videos, creating a new way for artists to share with their fanbase, while at the same time remaining profitable.
- Professional athletes. Sports are starting to play a big part in VR, with former Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III talking this week about how the technology can help with sports training, as well as improving player performance on the field with simulated activities.
- Advertising and marketing. Of course, a number of companies are looking into ways to innovate advertising with virtual reality, with several panels this week focusing on how to effectively make that happen. This includes creating virtual shopping experiences or seeing potential vacation spots to visit – something Marriott has already heavily invested in. Even McDonald’s is getting in on the action.
- Video games. Of course, video games are the “big one” when it comes to virtual reality investment, since they create immersive experiences that players won’t be able to get enough of. A number of games are dominating SXSW’s Gaming section.