AUSTIN, TEXAS —
Many of the people who come to Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest film, music and technology festival each year come mainly for the parties and the music, and some of them come from very far away.
The city of Austin bills itself as the "Live Music Capital of the World" and during South by Southwest you can find music from all over the world.
The annual South by Southwest conference ended this weekend, but tens of thousands of music fans, film buffs and high-tech entrepreneurs have crowded downtown Austin streets since the event started on March 13, meeting up, networking and partying.
Among the 500 international acts there are plenty who play hard rock, but there are also musicians playing ancient Chinese instruments and a woman from Pakistan who sings in traditional folkloric style.
Austin resident Neena Nguyen [NOO-yenn], whose parents are Vietnamese and Russian, likes the cosmopolitan atmosphere.
“There have been a lot of people coming from different states and different countries and I just like the feel when you walk down the street you can see this different variety of people," Nguyen said.
She grew up in Russia and enjoys seeing Russian groups like Mumiy Troll [Mumm-ee Trohl] from Vladivostok.
Groups often gain valuable exposure at South by Southwest and Mumiy Troll lead singer Ilya Laguntenko [ILL-yah lah-goon-TEHNK-koh] has such hopes.
“There are a few bands who made it successful commercial, and I hope we are one of them. That is why we saved enough money to get to Austin," Laguntenko said.
The international flavor of South by Southwest is also evident in the interactive and film events and quite often they draw the same people.
Carlos Adriano de Lima Santana, who represents a film company in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said, "We came to enjoy the festival, to listen to some music, and to learn about some new things here."
Brazil was well-represented this year with 59 companies, more than double the number from last year.
Companies from around the world set up displays to show their products and enhance their brands.
Event organizers said more than 72,000 people registered for this year’s conference.
Local residents complain about the crowds and the traffic, but the city estimates this year’s economic impact at $315 million.
Austin, with its booming economy and vibrant cultural scene, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, but South by Southwest enhances the city’s standing on the world stage.