Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Austin Texas Nurtures Digital Media Haven


AngelouEconomics has released their first comprehensive economic impact assessment on the City of Austin from the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film and Interactive Conference and Festival.

Few entertainment industry events in the world can compare to the depth and breadth of SXSW -- given the range of activities, performers, presenters, and visitor attendees.

In 2007, SXSW featured nine days of industry conference activities, six days of trade shows, a five-night music festival featuring over 1,500 artists in more than 70 venues, plus nine days and nights of film festival with more than 275 screenings in six venues. In total, it's estimated that the event last year was attended by more than 125,000 people.

According to the AngelouEconomics assessment, the 2007 SXSW events were directly and indirectly responsible for injecting about $95 million into Austin's local economy.

Digital Media Entrepreneurs
That said, while the creative residents of Austin contribute to the city's emerging reputation as a growing haven for digital media entrepreneurs, the organizers of the South by Southwest events continue to align with the legacy silos of the traditional sponsors within the music, film and technology sector.

Furthermore, even though most of the mainstream media spin about SXSW describes the upside for the local economy, others tell a very different story of how "SXSW is a Parasite" on the independent spirit that actually made Austin different from the payola-ridden culture of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.

SXSW is Not Economic Development
Perhaps the prior groundwork, to prepare Austin as a fertile and vibrant hotbed for raising digital media Indie seedlings, is the real forward-looking economic development storyline that's worthy of further attention.

Moreover, the city's emerging technology program is clearly the more substantive local economic opportunity that the Austin mayor and council members should continue to acknowledge and support.

Austin is at a significant crossroads, and sustainable economic impact should be the primary focal point of the city council's public policy efforts.