Apr 23, 2024

Leaders in Austin music industry featured in UT podcast before SXSW

Reporting Texas


Co-founder of SXSW and Austin Chronicle’s publisher, Nick Barbaro, visited the recording studio at the Moody College of Communication to talk about the beginnings of SXSW.


As Austin prepares for a busy spring festival season, there’s a music festival podcast emerging from students at the Moody College of Communication at UT.

The “Keep Austin Live!” podcast is featuring two huge names in their upcoming episode highlighting the history and weirdness of South by Southwest.

“A bunch of us who were grad students [at UT] decided to start the Austin Chronicle,” said Nick Barbaro, co-founder of SXSW. “A bunch of us had music background writing for the Daily Texan in the early punk years. These guys in New York who do an event called the New Music Seminar wanted to sort of break out and do regional ones, and they want to do Austin.”

In 1987, SXSW humbly introduced itself to Austin with only 150 registrations but was met with over 700 people who showed up for the music. From then on, SXSW continued to grow and became Austin’s premier spring festival, attracting acts and attendees from all over the world.

“The local creative scene was limited by the city’s lack of exposure,” said Hope Unger, the host of the episode. “The [Austin Chronicle] put together a music conference that brought the world to the stages of Austin, Texas.”

This year, there’ll be over 1500 acts performing around the city so it will be impossible to catch them all. Especially because there are hundreds of unofficial showcases happening at the same time. These unofficial events are a representation of just how vast the live music scene already is in Austin, opening opportunities for local artists to perform alongside some bigger acts.

“A lot of people from New York come in, a lot of people from Atlanta and LA,” said Natalie Yanez, who organizes unofficial acts with Austin Indie Music. “I always wanted to be involved in the music community somehow and since I don’t play any instruments, by being in this I have the ability to bring the community together.”

The cost of passes for SXSW is substantially more expensive than any music festival in Texas, with a Music Festival Badge starting at around $1000. The episode’s reporter, Guido Peluffo, volunteered for 40 hours during the 2022 festival in exchange for a free music badge as a part of the SXSW volunteer program.

Rylie Lillibridge, the producer and SXSW geek, saw Remi Wolf in 2023 with the most unlikely superfan of all: her mother. In this episode, Rylie shares her story of meeting one of her favorite artists and her mother’s admiration for the young pop star.