The $X$W Economic Impact

During the 14 days of SXSW, millions of dollars change hands. This money is spent on production, marketing, attendance, booking, merch, food and other odds and ends. We wanted to know how much of it stays in Austin. Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 12.44.12 PM


SXSW isn't really just a 2 week event, though. The organization holds a staff of about 200 year-round. Over the last nearly 30 years, SXSW has become a well-oiled machine that produces a hearty revenue stream to supplement the city. According to the SXSW website, the total impact of the event in 2012 was valued around $190 million--this includes everything from badges sold to media content produced (an estimated $37.5 million of international media value for Austin as a brand in 2013). Bands performing at official showcases aren't even necessarily paid. They are offered a cash option that tops at $250 per group or the artist wristband package. Only about 20% take the cash, making booking cheaper for sponsors.

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This year, in order to gain a little more control of how money was spent and where, the city limited the number of permits. The goal was to permit a few new official sponsors and scale back pop up or tentative events by 25%. The realistic scale back was actually less than 10%. We still have an entire week of music ahead of us so the overall impact is yet to be seen. Ultimately, SXSW has become a necessary bit of business.

Stay tuned to find out how you can help the city recover at the end of the week.