Conventions & Awards

Glasgow Dreams Of A SXSW Of Their Own

Sxsw-logoWhen I initially heard of Glasgow's interest in developing something similar to SXSW I immediately took it as one of those copycat "next SXSW" efforts that are generally as laughable as those "next Silicon Valley" campaigns. I don't think anybody's going to be the next SXSW or Silicon Valley due to their unique histories though I do believe either can be challenged for leadership if one feels like commiting extreme amounts of time and resources to that end. That said, in the case of Glasgow they're talking more about creating something similar to SXSW and as long as they don't simply copy it they could actually do such a thing.

I'm not trying to split hairs here but there is a difference between being the next SXSW and doing something like SXSW. In Glasgow there is currently discussion (via @ElectricKiwi) of building their own. According to Glasgow councillor Ken Andrew:

"I have a motion for the full council on Thursday that Glasgow Life start to investigate the feasibility of Glasgow hosting its own South by Southwest festival."

"I really feel that we could end up having the European equivalent of South by Southwest."

Is such a thing possible? Actually yes.

Though Glasgow hasn't hosted music events at the scale of SXSW they are hosting the upcoming Commonwealth Games and have a wide range of annual festivals including a variety of solid and well-respected music festivals.

And there seems to be musical space within that array in Ken Andrew's opinion:

“We have the enormous success of the Celtic Connections, the Jazz Festival in May, the Proms in the Park in August. The one thing that is really missing is rock, blues and indie. I think its a gap and I think it would do fabulously well in Glasgow.

But building a SXSW of one's own is a quite different matter than having the infrastructure and the desire. As Olfa Furniss, whose company Born to Be Wide puts on the Wide Days music convention, states:

"Glasgow is more than capable of putting on large scale events, the question is whether something like SXSW is really the best approach or whether the money would be better spent promoting the city as a year-round music destination, while supporting existing multi-venue events such as Celtic Connections and Stag and Dagger."

“When it comes to music business conventions, it is important to remember that South by Southwest has grown organically over several decades and that many cities have also been hosting equivalent events throughout the UK and Europe for a long time.”

“It is a crowded market place to the extent that in 2015 two of Europe’s largest music conferences, Midem and the Great Escape, will clash."

Lots of questions here. Let's hope Glasgow leaders recognize that being an "equivalent" of a well-established festival with a unique history may not be as powerful as creating something a bit fresher with some Scottish flavor.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) also blogs at DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. I’m from Glasgow, but now live in Austin. Please give Austin their due and mention them at least once in this article. It’s a lot of hard work putting this festival on for the world. We have a special outreach to Scottish interests as well (bands, films, interactive). Not once is Austin listed here.

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