While the tough economy forced Popkomm to call off its 2009 confab, this year's South by Southwest conference fared considerably better.
Music registrations at SXSW, which was held March 13-22 in Austin, fell about 10% from last year, according to managing director Roland Swenson. But SXSW's film festival and digital media-centered interactive conferences have helped broaden the appeal of the franchise and diversify its revenue streams.
In an interview with Billboard, Swenson discussed the challenges of operating a music conference during lean times for the industry and the broader economy.
How is the recession affecting your plans for next year's SXSW?
We decided we need to play to our strength, which is the convergence that surrounds all three events. When we started the [film and interactive] events, we wanted them to have their own identity within their industry. I think we've achieved that, and now we think the future for us is fitting all those parts together. [The recession has] hastened it. We don't know what's going to happen with music. It's hard to know how everything's going to turn out. We need to be thinking of our event in a more comprehensive way than we have in the past.
Click here to read more from Roland Swenson on how SXSW has coped with the music industry's struggles in the past decade and the "myth" that SXSW is a talent contest for unsigned acts.