South By Southwest to Launch Latin-Themed SXAmericas Addition in 2014

SXAméricas, a two-day event whose goal is to bring together Latin American SXSW participants with attendees working in the U.S. Latin market, will be held for the first time during the 2014 edition of the Austin music festival.
“Business people, producers, managers and artists who reside in certain regions of Latin America don’t necessarily connect with U.S. Latinos,” SXSW Latin Music Programmer Alicia Zertuche told Billboard. “There is a cultural shift that needs to happen.”
Zertuche notes that the idea for SXAméricas, which kicks off with a party on Tuesday March 11 and continues March 12, came out of feedback from previous festival participants from the region.
“They want to tap into the Latin market here, but they may have a hard time understanding how things work in the U.S.,” Zertuche says. “We wanted to create SXAméricas in order to take projects to the next level. We are hoping it can translate into new business models for connecting U.S. and Latin America. [Latin] is no longer about niche markets. It is a trend across the United States.”
The presence of Spanish-speaking artists at SXSW has increased year by year, with Zertuche actively recruiting new acts and working with state cultural entities to present country-specific showcases.Nearly ninety bands from Latin America and Spain performed at SXSW in 2013, in addition to U.S. based bilingual bands. (Overall, a total of 2,278 acts participated in last year’s festival; 597 were international artists, according to figures compiled by SXSW organizers.)
Mexico’s Café Tacvba, Colombian pop star Juanes, and Argentine-Uruguayan collective Bajofondo are among the artists with a U.S. following who have performed at SXSW. But the Austin festival’s Latin programming has been more significant for providing a stage for bands from Latin America and Spain to make their live U.S. debuts.
“There are bands who are used to performing in large venues in South America but that doesn’t translate into something significant as far as having a following here,” Zertuche says. “They may be mainstream in their native country but they are not mainstream here. They may come with a perception that there are labels waiting to sign them and promoters waiting to book them on tour, but that is not necessarily the reality.”
The new Latin-focused initiative will include artist showcases, business roundtables and a featured speaker who Zertuche says will address the importance of the Latino community in the U.S. A group of “creative influencers” will be invited to Austin to attend SXAméricas, and the program will be open to all SXSW Platinum and Music badge holders.
SXAméricas will take place during the day so as not to prevent participants from attending SXSW’s nightly showcases.
“Latinos don’t like to be boxed in so that is the last thing we want to do,” Zertuche says. “But we do want to provide key moments for them to do business.”