Jim Fusilli offers a great write-up of his experience last week in Austin, where Daniel Auerbach from the Black Keys tells him that SXSW "has morphed into something else."
Twenty-one years after the first festival, it's now an overstuffed parade of big names who don't need the gig, successful touring bands that are compelled to play an internationally renowned event, and talents great and small eager or desperate for recognition.
That the Wall Street Journal is covering SXSW might give you an indication of how the event has changed over the last twenty years.
Playing SXSW is different from playing just about any other music festival or music conference. If you can "stop traffic" long enough to get people to stop talking and actually watch your set, you can get some real tastemakers on your mailing list. If you play the event without being prepared, you run the risk of exposing yourself as lazy, pretentious, unprofessional, or all three.