Friday, March 26, 2010

The economics of SXSW

Lovely piece on the economics of SXSW from Fucked Up's perspective:

A festival pass can cost almost $800 a person. A band gets either wristbands or $250, which is enough to buy enough gas to get your van maybe 15 hours away from Austin, one way. Most bands are from outside that radius, and are well within the range of losing a shit ton of money by coming. In exchange, sxsw gets access to the best bands in the world, every club in Austin, and sponsorship money from all the coolest companies on earth. One of the more creatively heinous examples of branding I learned about this year was the Green Label Sound record label, which is a branding exercise of Mountain Dew soda. When my friend was offered to do a record with Green Label Sound for many thousands of dollars, I was happy to concede that it was a great deal for his specific band. Then I saw the giant 4 panel billboard for Green Label Sound right next to Stubbs on Red River St. Great for Chromeo, Neon Indian and the two other bands on the advert I forget ("great" in the sincere and non-facetious sense) and realized how maybe it was a bit more of a serious issue than I'd thought. Think of all the bands that had to blow their wallets apart to get to their one sxsw showcase, and all the partiers who had to pay to fly or hitchhike from Greenpoint or Plymouth to get to Austin in order to create the cultural critical mass that allowed Mountain Dew to greenlight a giant billboard in the epicenter of American indie rock. Think of why there is so much free beer and cigarettes and energy drinks at sxsw, and why every year there is even more, and why every year there are a dozen more huge shows presented by even bigger companies than last year. It's because you paid your money to go there and see these ads.

The whole thing is worth a read - it's placed somewhere between a whinge and a shrug, but the conclusion is that Wrigleys probably do better from SXSW than any band manages.

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