Yogi Berra's famous quote – "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" – has never really applied to Austin's South by Southwest festival.

Yes, there are crowds galore. But people keep coming: in 2012, the number of registrants increased by 15 percent over the previous year.

But now an Austin-based ad agency has developed an app for locals who might be looking to avoid the SXSW masses. It lets you know where people aren’t.

Courtesy of Participant Media

The annual South by Southwest film festival kicks off in Austin today. The 10-day fest features more than 89 world premieres and a total of 133 feature films. Janet Pierson heads SXSW Film. And it’s ultimately her job to weed through the thousands of submissions to come up with the slate of film offerings.

Janet Pierson stopped by KUT to talk about this year’s lineup.

On What Makes a Good SXSW Film:

"It's a total picture that we're looking for. You know, you look for a lot of things. Original voices is a big deal, something that surprises you, something that really works - that has a depth. We look for a transformational experience. We want to be moved somehow."

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It takes a lot of manpower to put on a festival, especially as one as big as South by Southwest.

"One thing that I don't think a lot of people realize is that there's like 200 people that have full time jobs at South by Southwest," says SXSW cofounder and managing director Roland Swenson. "During the event there are hundreds of more temporary workers that we hire."

When it comes to volunteers, Swenson knows there's a lot – even if he's not quite sure of the number.

"You know I think there's going to be over 3,000," he says. "I don't have a precise count, but that's for 15 days of South by Southwest." 

Austin Kleon

One of the largest gatherings of creative minds is happening right now in Austin, but how can you become a valuable part of that community without sucking the life out of it or annoying other people with your relentless self-promotion?

Don't be "human spam" or a "vampire." That's the advice of Austin Kleon, a local artist and writer whose book "Steal Like an Artist" spent six months on the New York Times best-seller list.

"There's basically the people who want to take all the inspiration, and then there's people who want to flood you with their own thing that they're shilling," he says.

South by Southwest Interactive is the technology-driven part of the annual Austin-based festival for digital, film and music and it starts on Friday. An expected 30,000 people will take part in the interactive and film week that precedes music, and they love it for the spontaneity and the chaos. They also hate it because of the chaos — parties on every corner, marketing handouts at every turn and a sprawling program of panels, screenings and speakers that span at least a dozen city blocks in the heart of Texas.

Flickr user Jason H. Smith,

Update: South by Southwest announced this morning that Lady Gaga will perform at this year's festival. She's set to take the stage Thursday, March 13. The City of Austin had originally denied a request to have Lady Gaga perform, citing concerns that the Doritos venue wasn't big enough.

So, SXSW is moving that venue for one night to the Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater at Eighth and Red River streets.

Click here for details on how to get tickets.

Here's @SXSW's announcement on Twitter:

Original Story (Feb. 26, 2014): The city of Austin is denying a request to have Lady Gaga perform in a downtown parking lot during South by Southwest.

Edward Snowden will speak at South by Southwest Interactive via videoconference next week. The man who leaked details about the extent of National Security Agency surveillance is currently living in Russia under asylum.

If you don't have a badge, you can still hear Snowden on Monday at 11 a.m. because the Texas Tribune will be offering a free live stream of the session. Snowden will be interviewed by the American Civil Liberties Union's "principal technologist" Christopher Soghoian.

Every year, more than 2,000 acts swarm to SXSW — and every year, NPR Music painstakingly handpicks 100 of the music festival's best discoveries for a downloadable six-hour sampler. We call it The Austin 100, and it's virtually guaranteed to contain something you'll love that you didn't know existed.

For the next 30 days, you can download The Austin 100 from this page — either song by song, or with one click, in its 839 MB entirety — as well as stream it as a continuous mix, both here and through NPR Music's various mobile apps.

This year, the City of Austin is planning to cover over $750,000 worth of fees and services for South by Southwest . 

The proposal, which the Austin City Council is set to vote on Thursday, includes up to $274,320 worth of fee waivers – ranging from $30 sound permit fees to $89,000 worth of litter control services. Any fees already paid by SXSW would be reimbursed to the company. The city would also authorize payments for $481,324 worth of city services – the bulk of which is $340,000 in additional police costs.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

For the first time ever, the City has stopped accepting permit applications for the week of South by Southwest before the actual application deadline.

The application cut-off announced this morning applies to all temporary use, temporary change of use, and music permits. 

Multi-day permit applications have a deadline of one month before the event, so the city’s early cut-off only shortened that application window by one day.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Though its average attendee is much older, you can think about South by Southwest like it was a high school: It’s got cool rockers, AV buffs (SXSW Film), tech geeks (SXSW Interactive), even straight-A students (SXSWedu) and crunchy granola-types (SXSW Eco).

Now South by Southwest has invited the jocks to the party.

Saturday Night Live

“We’re at a festival, and what is more beautiful than watching someone try?” squeaked Maria Bamford on Thursday night at Austin’s Stateside Theater. The comedian had just attempted a new bit that didn’t quite pay off the way she planned. But she was able to pull it off, thanks to an admission of her own failure and a happy, comedy-loving audience.

Bamford isn’t the only comic trying out new material in Austin: she’s one of a 109 stand-up comedians performing at this year’s Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival (and one of the more recognizable faces at this year’s festival, either for her series of off-kilter Target commercials or her famously strange on-stage antics and voices). 

That guy Prince has a sense of humor.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Another South by Southwest has come and gone – and in its wake comes the inevitable cry from some local natives: “Don’t move here.”

Pulling up the drawbridge on SXSW visitors isn’t anything new: back in 1997, one local band minted t-shirts telling folks they could go back home when the music’s over. But as SXSW Interactive continues its explosive growth – with a 25 percent surge this year and over 30,000 attendees – it attracts a different set of attendees than music-loving spring breakers. And some of those attendees may not be going back.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning this post-spring break Monday. Austin’s expecting record high temperatures approaching 90 degrees today. The National Weather Service says those high temperature make for elevated fire conditions, so be careful.

Lead Story: It’s one of the busiest days of the year at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, as many visitors in town for South by Southwest head home.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: "The Punk Syndrome" won the SXGlobal Audience Award. See pictures from the Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät concert, below.

Original Story  (March 15, 6:01 a.m.): A punk band from Finland is the focus of a film that’s showing at South by Southwest this week. The band is also playing a gig in the SXSW Music festival.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

On the last day of SXSW Film, Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron and Ellen Page were some of the stars at the Paramount for screenings of "At Any Price" and "The East."

"At Any Price," starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as father and son, examined a family farming business struggling with an unexpected crisis. The drama directed by Ramin Bahrani gets a wide release April 26. 

Update: South by Southwest Film and Music continue through the weekend.

Original Story (March 7, 4:10 p.m.): Austin’s just 24 hours away from South by Southwest’s annual Film and Interactive conferences – meaning thousands of people are arriving this moment.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Capital Metro is reporting more record high ridership numbers from this year's South by Southwest Festival.

Capital Metro says boardings were up from last year by almost 7,000 on MetroRail for the first several days of SXSW. Capital Metro even had to operate an additional train after hours to carry more than 100 passengers still waiting on the platform. The trains on Saturday are starting at 10 a.m. – a few hours earlier than usual.


The South by Southwest Film Festival is drawing to a close this weekend. KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Terrence Henry sat down to talk about some trends at the festival this year, what moviegoers are buzzing about, and which films truly stood out.

"One thing that really struck me this year is that everything visually just looks better," Henry said.