So you’re a music and tech fan, but you can’t get down to Austin this year for the 27th annual South by Southwest, the music, interactive and film festival and conference which begins March 13th? SXSW On, the festival’s free streaming video platform which launches today via Roku, YouTube and SXSW.com, has you covered.
The custom-designed channel, which will run during the ten-day festival that draws hundreds of thousands in the music and tech industry to Austin, Texas, will feature a live stream of SXSW performances, keynote speeches and interviews as well as original content. Featured on SXSW On in addition to live footage from the event will be original series including The Road, which “presents viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day challenges and adventures of touring musicians” and The Nom Nom, which artists “share their top local eateries and explore delicious offerings from culinary masters.”
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This is the first time that live SXSW content will be available in your home via Roku, the streaming video player which has sold over 10 million units.
It’s a big win for SXSW’s online video team, which has been producing streaming video content as a YouTube partner since 2008 and have been filming parts of the festival since 2000. “We had a lot of the nuts and bolts of the structure in place where we were hiring 50 plus videographers, producers and crew people during the week,” explained SXSW Director of Technology Scott Wilcox in an exclusive interview with Digital Trends.
As the future of music and technology defines SXSW, live streams of the conference’s keynotes are a must watch. Wilcox tells us that already confirmed for the live stream are interactive keynote speakers including MoMA senior curator Paola Antonelli on March 13, Lyft co-founder Logan Green on March 16 and Dr. Astro Teller, who oversees Google’s innovation lab Google[x] — responsible for futuristic technology like self-driving cars — on March 17. The SXSW Music keynote speaker is unannounced, but considering past speeches by Lady Gaga, Dave Grohl, and Bruce Springsteen, you probably won’t want miss this one either.
“So we’ll be doing all of our interactive keynotes and some other speakers as well,” said Wilcox. “We’re also going to be doing intimate one-on-one interviews that we’re calling StudioSX. We’ll be weaving all of these things together to make our broadcast at South by Southwest to give everybody who can’t be in Austin a little bit of a taste.”
Also on tap for the SXSW On are live music performances — including national indie rock group Spoon on the 19th at 8 p.m. CT as well as up-and-comers including Caliornian surf rockers Wavves and Latin groups Discos Las Palmeras and La Sabrosura Dura — and archival content, including keynotes from Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lady Gaga and others. “I’ve been the CTO of South by Southwest for almost 20 years and as video became more accessible, we started experimenting. That’s evolved to where we record hundreds of events with multi-camera shoots. Now we’re taking it to the next level to bring it to people in their homes,” said Wilcox.
SXSW On partnered with online video platform Brightcove and Roku channel developer Float Left Interactive to bring live streaming to homes across the US, in Canada, the UK and the Republic of Ireland. “We’ve been really lucky to find the right mix of partners. [Brightcove]’s cloud services have helped to enable a lot of this. We’re using them as a core to feed into the Roku app, and Float Left Interactive has been a great developer. The process of getting all of infrastructure on our end necessary for releases and for advancing the pre-production on these things… it’s really been an adventure,” said Wilcox.
But it was a worthwhile adventure. SXSW On will now allow even greater spread of the creative-oriented conference’s focus on new music, film and emerging technologies and we’ll be watching.
The streaming video channel, viewable on Roku and online via SXSW.com and SXSW’s YouTube channel, will be intermittent through the first part of the event and will then be 24/7 from Wednesday March 18th through Saturday the 21st.