The year hasn't quite ended, but that doesn't mean we're not looking forward to 2012 yet. Although Christmas puts us in a festive mood, the month of March makes some of us even more merry, with visions of a music Mecca and the sweet sounds of Austin, Texas ringing in our ears.
Yes, I'm talking about South by Southwest and if you think it's too early to be looking that far ahead, think again. This is THE music festival and conference of the year; the place where young bands go to get discovered, established bands go to launch a new album and reconnect with fans and where music fans go to find out who is about to be the next emerging act to blow up and learn the ins, out and behind the scenes details of the music industry.
SXSW has been gearing up to make 2012 the biggest event yet, already announcing three rounds of showcasing artists, scheduling the panel discussions and continuing to plan for the biggest music party of the year. Amidst the emerging acts that have been announced, organizers have also revealed that artists like Blitzen Trapper, Built to Spill, Delta Spirit, Thomas Dolby and The Fray are all on board for next year's festival, along with a few hundred more bands and many more to be announced.
So you like to be ahead of the curve and let your friends know who's who? SXSW is the place to catch all of the best rising stars before they really catch on, from pop to punk to R&B to indie rock. In past years, SXSW has hosted a number of soulful singers from the UK who became household names, including Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele. This year the festival introduces Alice Russell (who already has four albums to her credit) to U.S. music fans as the young lady looks to be the next in that line of emerging artists. Only time will tell, but those who see her in Austin will get a preview of what's to come.
Perhaps you prefer to know the ins and outs of the music industry and how the game is changing? Then you'll want to sit in on four afternoons of panel discussions about music business, marketing, distribution and how the business continues to evolve and change with the economy and technology.
If you're more of a rock historian and pride yourself in knowing the details of artist backgrounds, then SXSW is the place for you as well and this year just may be better than any in the past. Not only have Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson been announced as speakers for 2012 (with a showcase performance to be announced shortly, as well), but the keynote speaker/interview is possibly the biggest and most impressive yet, with Bruce Springsteen scheduled to take the stage and discuss the breadth of his career in the music industry.
And we want to give you a festival pass!
If all of this sounds too cool to miss, you're right, but passes to the festival aren't cheap unless you know someone and have a really great "in". Then again, who's looking out for you?
That's right: Once again, Urban Tulsa Weekly is a media co-sponsor with SXSW and we're looking to send one lucky reader and a guest to Austin for the big shindig south of the Red River. Our annual SXSW essay contest is back as we search for the right person to be our guest correspondent to head down to Austin in March, take everything in and report back to us to share with the UTW readership with a fresh perspective.
The 2012 SXSW music conference and festival is scheduled from March 13-18, so start by marking those dates on your calendar. Next, head over to SXSW.com and start browsing through the information and lists of already announced speakers and performers to get yourself primed and ready for a week of bliss.
Finally, use that inspiration to write your 500 word essay explaining why you're the best candidate to represent to represent Urban Tulsa at SXSW. While you're at it, prove to us that you actually know your music by including which local band you would nominate to send to SXSW to represent Tulsa and why.
Proof it, polish it and make sure it really represents who you are, then send it in to us at Urban Tulsa Weekly via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org no later than our deadline at 5pm on Jan. 24, 2012. (And if you've never emailed us before, keep an eye out for an auto-respond message to make sure your submission goes through.)
Here at the UTW offices, we'll compile the submissions and go though each one to narrow it down and pick one from amongst the best. The lucky winner will receive two music badges for the conference and festival (Yes, you get to take a guest because a friend makes it all more fun) with an assignment to take in as much as they can, process it all (if that's actually possible) and report back with a summary and review from their experience, which will be printed in UTW following the conference.
This is the contest that you wait for all year long and this year's SXSW promises to be even bigger and better than the past. With that said, what are you waiting for? Get out a pen and paper, put on your writing hat and start formulating your argument for why we should send you to Austin for the biggest, baddest, best music conference, festival and party in the land. Once you go, any real music lover will never be the same.
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