Will there be a ‘physical’ SXSW Festival in 2021? Magic 8-ball says ‘Better not tell you now…’

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:44 pm September 22, 2020
Looking down on Sixth Street from Maggie Mays at South By Southwest 2015. Will we see crowds like that in Austin in 2021?

This morning the folks who run the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin sent out a press release announcing SXSW Online.

Sayeth the release: “Today we’re excited to announce SXSW Online as part of our 2021 offerings. We’re working hard on a digital experience in March that brings you the benefits of sessions, film festival screenings, music showcases, networking and exhibitions. SXSW Online will take place March 16 – March 20, 2021.

Entries for the 2021 “digital experience” will open on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The press release went on to say in lieu of the standard showcase application process, the Music Festival will be curated by programming staff with priority given to showcase presenters and artists who were scheduled for the 2020 event.

The real news:

SXSW is working with the City of Austin and public health authorities on plans for a 2021 physical event. SXSW will provide updates as more information becomes available.”

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say the odds of a live SXSW music festival “physical event” in March are…. very iffy. Even if they have a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of this year (a real stretch) the chances of it being administered in any great numbers is extremely remote, making the physical SXSW that we’re used to very unlikely.

A better question: Could organizers move SXSW to the fall of 2021 to coincide with the fall school break (just like how SXSW historically has coincided with spring break)? The odds are much better that by this time next year the pandemic will be under control enough to host SXSW (and everything that goes with it — the travel, the lodging, etc.). But even then…. who knows?

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.