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South by Southwest Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here is a look at South by Southwest (SXSW), a collection of music, film and interactive conferences and festivals held annually in Austin, Texas.

March 10-19, 2023 – The South by Southwest conference and festivals are scheduled to take place.

March 11-20, 2022 – The South by Southwest conference and festivals take place.


The purpose of SXSW is to create an opportunity for “creative people to develop their careers by bringing together people from around the globe to meet, learn and share ideas.”

SXSW Inc. also hosts SXSWedu, started in 2011 to focus on teaching and education.


There were 700 attendees in 1987, the first year of the conference.

In 2019, there were more than 280,000 attendees.

The economic impact on the Austin economy from SXSW in 2019 was $355.9 million.


1986 – Louis Jay Meyers and Roland Swenson approach the Austin Chronicle’s Louis Black and Nick Barbaro about organizing a music festival in Austin, similar to the New Music Seminar, a music convention in New York.

March 12-15, 1987 – The first South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival takes place in Austin.

1993 – SXSW moves to the Austin Convention Center in downtown Austin, where it is currently held.

1994 – SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference is launched, joining the music segment.

1995 – SXSW Film and Multimedia splits into its own separate conference.

1999 – SXSW Multimedia is renamed SXSW Interactive.

2007 – Microblogging start-up Twitter becomes well-known at SXSW Interactive.

2009 – Social networking website Foursquare is launched at SXSW Interactive.

2010 – SXSW Interactive attendance exceeds SXSW Music for the first time; 14,251 Interactive registrants and 13,020 Music registrants.

2017 – For the first time, SXSW is a unified event with 24 tracks across Interactive, Film, Music and Convergence, open to all badge holders via primary and secondary access.

March 6, 2020 – The city of Austin cancels South by Southwest, which had been scheduled March 13-22, due to coronavirus. This is the first time in 34 years that the event will not take place.

March 9, 2020 – South by Southwest lays off approximately one-third of its full-time staff because of the unexpected cancellation of the 2020 event.

October 6, 2021 – It is announced that South by Southwest will take place online, due to the pandemic.

March 22, 2021 – SXSW announces its return to an in-person event in 2022.

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