A record 40 acts from Australia and New Zealand will be showcased at South by Southwest, to be held March 15-19 in Austin, Texas. More than 420 acts had applied to perform at the music festival, accor

A record 40 acts from Australia and New Zealand will be showcased at South by Southwest, to be held March 15-19 in Austin, Texas. More than 420 acts had applied to perform at the music festival, according to its Sydney-based Australian representative Phil Tripp.

Among those booked to perform are leading Australian acts the Living End, Missy Higgins, Wolfmother, Something For Kate and End Of Fashion. Key NZ acts the Bats, the Brunettes and Die! Die! Die! will also perform.

"South By South West has over the last three years proven to be an important place for Australian and New Zealand acts to get deals and be noticed," Tripp says. "In 2002, only five local acts showcased. Last year, there were 20 -- and ten of them got deals."

Singer songwriter Sarah Blasko was among those. She signed to U.S. booking agent Frank Riley of High Road Touring and toured North America through 2005, and subsequently began talks with Sony Publishing, according to her manager Bill Cullen.

Through its L.A.-based music office Austrade, the Australian government has funded an Australian stand at SxSW and organized various activities to showcase homegrown acts.

Likewise, the New Zealand government -- through the country's Trade and Enterprise and Music Industry Commission -- has funded a national stand and an opening night party where domestic acts will perform.

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