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- Song Premiere: Dom Flemons, "San Francisco Baby"
Things can be better.
As Texans, we are tired of every March being misrepresented by the madness South by Southwest creates. As citizens of Austin and surrounding areas, we want our city back. As fans and supporters of music, we want a better solution. As musicians, we want to be treated better.
SXSW is fueled in part by the broken dreams of America’s musicians. As a “pay to play” event, it is funded by the dreams that many artists have of attaining stardom or super stardom, when only a very select few will even be able to make a living playing music. Under the suggestion of what SXSW can offer, they make artists go through rigorous, bordering on egregious procedures and protocols, and make them deal with logistical, time, and parking nightmares no human would normally be asked to navigate.
The process can be even harder, and more expensive for patrons and media. Though many of the musicians are not getting paid, patrons are asked to spend upwards of 4 figures for access to the artists, on top of bloated prices for hotels, food, and other everyday expenses, and even then sometimes that access is denied for “exclusive” reasons by a corporate bureaucracy that many times seems unintuitive and unfair.
In short, deciding to be a part of the official SXSW festivities is deciding to give up your civil rights for a short period. This is especially true for citizens and business owners within the SXSW corridor whose space, infrastructure, and lives are commandeered by the event whether they like it, or agree to it or not.
The truth of the matter is the SXSW organization wants the event to be madness, because without gates, people problems are the only way they can control the scope or the amount of people attending the event. This is also one of the reasons SXSW is so slow at responding to concerns, if responding at all. In fairness to SXSW, they have created many priceless music experiences for people over the years, and the expansion of non-sanctioned SXSW events has added to the evolving logistical nightmare. However many of the non-sanctioned events are the result of the collusive, industry-driven oligarchical organization that makes up SXSW, and the wrongful way they deal with artists, media, and patrons.
The idea of XSXSW is to re-focus the event on music and people, to rekindle the spirit of the Austin music scene, as well as civic and Texas pride by using music to renew community, infrastructure, and people, instead of taxing them to their limits. Will XSXSW be prefect? Of course not, but our commitment is to try to be better, to listen to artists and patrons, to put people first, to attempt to innovate, and find new ways to bridge artists, fans, and media. Artists deserve to be paid. Fans deserve access to the music at a reasonable price. Money should go to music, not bloated infrastructure and branding.
And the focus should not be on a broken promise of stardom, but a path of sustainability for talented artists.
XSXSW may look tiny, or even silly in size and scope compared to SXSW. But in the coming years we hope to make enough noise to at least make them listen.
We ask for your help.
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12 Comments to “The XSXSW Charter: Things can be better.”
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