It’s the day after a late flight back from SXSW in Austin and our feet, our brains and well… everything is in recovery mode! For the uninitiated, SXSW is arguably the tech and culture mashup of Silicon Valley and Hollywood and beyond – and it’s our favorite event. It’s a collision of tech, film, music and even comedy, and it’s honestly impossible to summarize. But we will give it our best shot! Here are our thoughts about SXSW 2023.
People returned en masse. We attended SX in 2019 when it was crazy packed, saw 2020’s cancellation (the bellweather of things to come re: covid and events), 2021 was virtual, 2022 saw a solid comeback, and this year? Let’s just say the vibe was “covid who?” Sessions were well-attended, film screenings with major stars had multi-block lines for hours, and music venues were at capacity. Remix had 5 speakers at SXSW Interactive this year and everyone came away so happy with the enthusiasm and engagement in their respective sessions.
SXSW 2023 Conference Themes
Popular conference session themes this year were around accessibility, diversity, content creation, activism, design, AI, remote work, climate change/sustainability, and storytelling. Therapeutic psychedelics were also prominent on the agenda. With just a few related sessions last year, psychedelics had its own track at SXSW 2023 and sessions were oversold.
NFTs? More Like NRT (Not Really There)
A big difference from 2022 was the lack of NFTs. Last year saw all kinds of enormous, weird cartoon character activations from companies such as Doodles + 20 industry sessions/meetups around NFTs. This year? Not so much. Instead, prominent activations came from known names like Audible and Dolby.
Making Your Mark
Want to stand out at SXSW? It’s not easy. It’s noisy and millions of marketing dollars are spent. But there are a few things that we’ve seen work. Posters on poles aren’t the most original but they are effective, sidewalk chalk promoting your event, postcards, and finally guerilla marketing in the form of people + a theme. For example, this year Peacock had actors portraying nuns everywhere you looked to promote their new drama series Mrs. Davis. Posters all around downtown encouraged you to snap pics of the nuns and promote on social media. Not only did this marketing tactic get attention, it also got press coverage. Mission accomplished. ✅(Not to mention, it’s pretty great to see nuns taking selfies!)
My absolute favorite thing about SXSW is the serendipitous happenings. While waiting for my delayed flight out of LAX, I saw an actor that I finally figured out was Lukas Gage from White Lotus, Euphoria and more. A quick scroll through the schedule and I saw that he co-wrote a film premiering at SXSW that he also starred in (so I went!). While waiting in line for that film, I started chatting with the guy next to me – a filmmaker who was debuting a film of personal interest. Fast forward to attending the premier and getting a big hug from the filmmaker, along with a ton of resources. Serendipity!
Welcome - Willkommen - Bienvenue
Walking around downtown Austin and the convention center, you could hear accents from just about everywhere. The international presence at SXSW 2023 was huge! Companies such as Turkish Airlines put real money into their activations; countries including Australia, Canada and Denmark had houses where you could learn about business opportunities in those countries and enjoy some country-specific food, drinks and music.
Beyond the mind-expanding conference presentations, it’s being in the room with Michael J. Fox as he shares backstories of his incredible documentary, riding in the elevator with one of the Indigo Girls, meeting people SO passionate about their work, seeing Cheryl Strayed (author of “Wild”) as she discusses her new Hulu show (“Tiny Beautiful Things”), walking past Eva Longoria who attended to promote her new film “Flamin’ Hot”, standing front row to hear my daughter’s favorite TikTok-famous group Coco and Claire Claire (hey don’t judge me; I’m the cool mom)… it all comes together to make for an amazing few days in Austin.
Want to Speak At SXSW 2024?
Whether it’s interactive, film, comedy or music, there’s something for everyone at SXSW. And here’s your call to action: The call for speakers opens in about 3 months so let’s start brainstorming those good ideas for SXSW 2024! Reach out to us at [email protected]