By the Numbers: Diversity at SXSW

In Austin, it’s more common to call the third week of March “South By Southwest” than it is to ever utter the words “Spring Break.”

Story by Tess Cagle

Illustrations by Jesus Acosta

For 10 days straight, the city turns into utter chaos as millions of out-of-towners fill the bars and hotels downtown, while native Austinites avoid them for this short period of time. Celebrity sightings increase by 100 percent and, most notably, thousands of bands temporarily inhabit the scene.

If you’re from Austin, you probably already knew about all of that.

In the Live Music Capital of the World, it’s easy to get frustrated when Interstate Highway 35 comes to a complete halt and every square inch of Austin seems to be filled with strangers. But if you think about it, it’s pretty beautiful that Austin has become the no. 1 destination for innovation and networking.

As of March 1, 1,896 bands have been booked for SXSW. Of these artists, 66 different countries and 453 different cities are represented. USA had the best representation by far, making up more than half of the bands on the lineup. According to SXSW, last year 2,266 acts were booked by the end of the festival, representing just 62 countries.

Most notably, with 206 bands, Austin is the best represented city on the lineup. Often, local musicians are disgruntled by the fest, mumbling “what does South By do for me?” But, it’s reassuring to see that although SXSW has grown exponentially for  the past 30 years, organizers continue to support local musicians.

Check out all of the stats about SXSW Music’s diversity this year: