AUSTIN, TEXAS —
The annual South by Southwest Festival wrapped up in Austin, Texas, today. Its music portion has become a showcase for musicians from all over the United States and the world.
Playing on Austin's club-lined Sixth Street, the British folk group Skinny Lister charms the crowd.
It cost them a lot of money to come here two years in a row but group guitarist Daniel says it is worth it.
“Last year we came and we managed to pick up our American record label from a guy who saw us in a pub we played in just down on Sixth Street here.”
During South by Southwest you can hear American music as well as music from Europe, Africa and Asia.
Nearly half of the 800 bands playing here night and day during the festival are from other countries.
One of the biggest draws this year was the K-Pop show, where fans lined up to hear 11 Korean groups perform, among them a hard rock group called Galaxy Express.
Galaxy Express guitarist and singer Park Jonghyun says the music has universal appeal.
“People always love rock and roll, it is so wild and [we have] leather jackets, you know.”
He says they enjoy the diversity of fans they encounter at South by Southwest, especially talking to and making friends with people from other countries.
David and Alex, friends from Houston, are among their big fans. David says that he listens only to Korean music, while Alex adds that he used to listen to it while living in China where, he says, it really infiltrated the local market.
K-Pop fans around the world have discovered Korean groups by watching their videos on YouTube and other online sites.
Last year, the “Gangnam Style” video by South Korea's PSY became YouTube's most-watched video ever.
The CEO of Billboard Magazine-Korea, Clayton Jin, says the South Korean music industry is geared toward export.
“It produces between 50 and 60 new artists every single year. Not all of them get accepted, but K-Pop is getting more and more acceptance outside of Korea and when the Korean manager companies design groups, they make groups, they design them for the international market, not just for Korea.”
Some of the Korean groups as well as groups from other countries playing that played at South by Southwest will go on to perform at other venues in the United States before heading home.