To many, the worst part about the annual SXSW festival is figuring out a way to see 100 bands in a week without passing out from exhaustion. But for locals, it’s not just a matter of putting up with drunken hipsters once a year, as the film Echotone reveals.
The documentary shows that despite the handful of bands that get their big break during the annual music showcase, most artists—in particular, Austin artists—aren’t so lucky. “When you arrive at SXSW, it’s totally mind blowing to see artists from all over the world there to share their latest creations,” says the film’s producer Nicholas Jayanty, who adds, “It’s evident there’s millions of dollars changing hands, but it’s pretty clear it’s not landing in the pockets of the artist that travelled thousands of miles just to play in front of a Miller Lite banner and sleep on someone’s crusty living room floor.”
Even Louis Black, co-founder of SXSW, admits as much in the film, noting that the festival was never intended to be anything but commercial. The end result? Gentrification, commercialism, and exploitation, with the creative class—the very ones who helped give Austin its “Live Music Capital of the World” nickname—hurt the most.
As the city gears up for the 2012 installment of SXSW this month, Hulu will be streaming the critically acclaimed Echotone for free starting Monday (March 5). It might not make you cancel your plane ticket to Austin, but it might get you thinking as you wait in line to see your tenth band of the day. And this is only the beginning: The overwhelming response to the film has inspired the director Nathan Christ to make it the first in a series, with them focusing their lenses on New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
See the Echotone trailer, after the jump.