South by Southwest, popularly known as SXSW, is an annual convention centering on film, interactive media and music, that take place every mid-March in Austin, Texas. SXSW started in 1987 and has continued to grow every year.
South by Southwest began when a small group of people in Austin, Texas began a series of long discussions about the future of entertainment and media at the offices of The Austin Chronicle. Participants in the discussions were sworn to secrecy. A fundamental opinion shared by the group was that the local creative and music communities were as talented as anywhere else on the planet, but were severely limited by a lack of exposure outside of Austin.
Music was the uniting factor, but the group had a broad taste for art and ideas. Inclusiveness and reaching for new things were core values. The solution being discussed was an event that would bring the outside world to Austin for a close-up view. As the key ideas were formed, recognition grew that Austin was not the only city where this was an issue. For a local event to bring the world to Austin, it needed to have value everywhere. A name was sought that was not restrictive in its concept.
Finally, in October of 1986, the announcement of the first South By Southwest was made. The first event, held in March of 1987, saw an expected 150 registrants swell to 700 on the opening day. As hoped for, Austin’s charm won over the visitors and SXSW took on a life of its own.