While Austin music conference SXSW seems to be hitting its zenith in terms of popularity and the sheer number of acts, both major and independent, available to fans, its growth is not seen as a positive by everyone, with Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q, and others criticising its new corporatism.
“It’s stupid. They changed it all up. It’s corporate,” Schoolboy Q told the Associated Press as he prepared for a SXSW show over the weekend. “I don’t ever want to come back unless they change it to where the fans are in. I’m tired of performing and seeing my fans outside the gate… That’s not fair. It’s not about the fans no more, it’s all about money, who can give you the best look.”
The South Central Los Angeles rapper was expressing displeasure with the fact that many of his fans were barred from attending his performances as they did not receive formal invites. His comments come after much debate over the direction SXSW has taken in recent years.
“The best thing for me was, I remember coming out here years, years, years ago, before it was like all the major label guys and all the guys were coming out here… It was pretty much an up-and-coming artists—it was really more so about bands at that time,” explained Brown to Complex.
“It wasn’t even that much rap going on. In those days, it was just more about you got put up on something. More so than now when people coming here they just going to see the Kanye show or they going to see—now you don’t really get put up on nothing. It kind of lost a little something with that. My thing is, when I come out here, I try to go see all the people that I don’t know,” he added.
“This [SXSW] feels different for us,” Adam Thompson, singer for Scottish outfit We Were Promised Jetpacks, told the AP. “It does feel like the first two were amazing to help us play shows and get people to notice us. Even stupid stuff like our name was funny, so people would come see us.”
But pop queen Lady Gaga, who gave a keynote address at the most recent SXSW, said that without corporate sponsorship, large festivals would become infeasible, saying, “The truth is without sponsorship… we won’t have any festivals because record labels don’t have any f-cking money.”
As for the choice in lineup and events, James Minor, the general manager of SXSW’s music program, tells the Associated Press, “We invite acts we feel have already gained some kind of momentum that could kind of use the festival as a platform to help them up to the next level.”