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SXSW festival coming to Sydney in major coup

K-Pop stars dancing on stage

News today that SXSW, a creative person’s paradise, will hit Sydney next October has musicians, influencers and fans jumping for joy.

But what is SXSW? Why is it heading to Australia? And how can you be part of the action?

Read on to find out.

What is SXSW?

Billie Eilish, Melinda Gates, Snoop Dogg, Barack Obama, Jordan Peele, Dave Grohl, Michelle Obama, Taika Waititi, Brené Brown, Steven Spielberg, Lady Gaga, Prince, Ava DuVernay.

These are just some of the prominent people who have attended SXSW in the past.

It’s pronounced “south by south-west” and also referred to in colloquial terms as “south by”.

SXSW has also attracted big name Aussies. Guy Sebastian, Troye Sivan and Peking Duk are among some of the stars who’ve made the trip to Austin, Texas, in the past to be part of the event.

It’s been going since 1987 and was the first event of its kind when it kicked off in March that year.

Music was its original focus, but it has since expanded to include film and interactive events, making it an annual get-together where people working in music, film, animation, gaming, media, technology and culture converge for a number of conferences, shows, festivals and events.

SXSW is basically a place to get noticed if you’re an emerging music artist or creative.

It’s also an environment to network. The big wigs are all there. In fact, tens of thousands of people usually descend on Austin each year for the event.

It was started by a small group of people in the city who felt local talent had limited exposure – and they wanted to change that.

And change that they did. The event has since grown to boast the largest music festival of its kind in the world.

SXSW went online last year and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing in-person attendance. But it is returning to its former glory in March this year.

Why is it coming to Australia?

The event will still take place in the US next year. But Sydney has been chosen as the city to represent the Asia Pacific with a separate SXSW festival.

This is probably the biggest thing to hit Sydney since the Olympics in 2000 and it will mark the first time SXSW has been hosted outside North America.

The Sydney Opera House on Sydney Harbour with buildings in the background
This will mark the first time SXSW has ventured away from its North American home.(Destination NSW)

Destination NSW, which is the NSW government’s tourism and events agency, has managed to secure Sydney as the Asia-Pacific arm of SXSW, meaning this event will not be a one-off.

The plan is for an annual Sydney event to compliment the Texas one.

It’s a great opportunity for artists in the region to shine. SXSW has proven to be the boost some artists need to go from obscurity to household names. So this is huge for creatives in the Asia-Pacific region.

“It will put a spotlight on Sydney as the major events and creative industries capital of the Asia Pacific, as well as being its premier business and lifestyle destination,” NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said.

SXSW Sydney will run for a week from October 15 to 22, 2023. That’s seven days and seven nights of action.

How can I take part or get tickets?

A SXSW Sydney website has been set up to register your interest and find out how you can get involved.

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SXSW begins and brands mark International Women’s Day: The Week Ahead

SXSW begins and brands mark International Women’s Day: The Week Ahead

March 9

The Collage Group, a consumer research organization, hosts a webinar on health and wellness across race and ethnicity. The event will provide research around how brands can capture consumer attention in the healthcare space.

Campbell Soup Co. reports financial results for its fiscal second quarter. Executives speaking in a December update for investors forecast $2.25 billion in revenue, which would be slightly down from the same period last year. Price hikes and momentum from “advantaged” brands like Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm are powering the company, which is undertaking another round of pricing increases.

Subscribe to Ad Age now for the latest industry news and analysis.

March 10

Ad Age hosts In Depth: Unlocking the Metaverse, a virtual conference that will offer a primer for marketers looking to explore branding in virtual worlds. Speakers include Avery Akkineni, president of VaynerNFT; Tressie Lieberman, VP of digital marketing and off-premise at Chipotle Mexican Grill; and Caty Tedman, head of partnerships at Dapper Labs.

March 11

SXSW begins in Austin, Texas and runs through March 20. Hot topics include the metaverse (of course!) and NFTs. 

March 12-13

The 27th Critics’ Choice Awards telecast airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on TBS and The CW.

Daylight savings time begins. Don’t forget to spring forward.

 

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I’m an entrepreneur who’s landed speaking gigs at events like SXSW. Here’s the exact email I use to pitch myself.

I'm an entrepreneur who's landed speaking gigs at events like SXSW. Here's the exact email I use to pitch myself.
  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • She’s landed multiple speaking gigs by sending a specific email pitch to event organizers.
  • The email should be brief but detailed — explain your interest and share your expertise, she says.

As a solopreneur, one of the ways I’ve been able to expand my network and build up my credibility has been through speaking at events and conferences and teaching workshops at companies. This has allowed me to share my expertise in a memorable way and establish myself as a thought leader within my industry.

Jen Glantz.JPG

Six years ago, Jen Glantz took the idea of being a bridesmaid for strangers and made it a reality.

Jen Glantz


People often ask me how I was able to speak at events like the SXSW conference, at General Assembly, and at a recent virtual conference for GoDaddy. I don’t have a speaking agent and I don’t get opportunities in my inbox, but my strategy is simple: I spend an hour a month researching conferences and events that are happening later that year. Then, I send the organizers a standard pitch email.

Here’s the exact script I use when I pitch myself as a speaker for different events.

A quick introduction

When people open up an email, you only have a few seconds to impress them and convince them to keep reading the entire message. That’s why I like to start my speaker pitch emails off with a short introduction, summary, and memorable detail. 

Hi [name],

I’m [name]. It’s really wonderful to e-meet you. I’m here in your inbox because I’d love to be a speaker at [name of event] to share actionable, engaging, and unforgettable tips on [topic] with the audience. Why me? I’m [add a few lines about your credibility and what makes you unique]. Plus, [add your fun fact here or a memorial detail that makes you stand out].

A deep dive into relevant experience

Consider your speaker pitch email as not only a first impression, but as a chance to recap your credibility, speaking history, and relevant experience. Your goal is to get the person reading the email to hit reply and get to know you even better. Share three to four sentences that explain more about who you are.

For the past [number of years], I’ve worked in [share details on your industry or career path]. Through that work, [share expertise, key findings, niche topics you’ve studied, projects you’ve started, or accomplishments]. I’ve spoken to audiences that include [list speaking engagements you’ve had in the past].  

A breakdown of speaking topics 

Depending on how much you know about the event, you can pitch a few speaking topics that you think would interest the organizers. If you’re not sure what they’re looking for, share three to four topics that you’ve spoken about in the past and details on each.

I’ve spent time diving into the content of this event and feel my expertise could benefit the audience on the following topics:

  • Public speaking for introverted entrepreneurs approaching sales calls 
  • Personal branding for entrepreneurs without a huge social media following 
  • Social media tips to strategize and engage a growing audience 
  • How to handle investor rejection and turn the no’s into success 

A list of reasons why the audience would benefit 

Besides introducing who you are and what you bring to the table, it’s also important to outline what you’ll share with the audience that will make them feel like they got the most out of the event. To do this, I share a brief list of takeaways that an audience will have after they listen to me speak through direct feedback I’ve had from past speaking engagements.

By the end of my session, audience members will walk away saying:

  • “I now know how to [fill in the blank] better than before”
  • “I received clarity from an expert on [topic]”
  • “I’m feeling excited about what’s next when it comes to [topic]”
  • “This workshop on [topic] was the best one I went to at [event]”
  • “The advice [speaker’s name] shared was unique, practical, and super relevant”

A strong closing

I wrap up my pitch emails with a simple, enthusiastic summary explaining why I want to speak at that specific event and offering to share more information. 

Speaking at [name of the event] is an opportunity I’m truly passionate and excited about, especially because [give a compelling reason]. I’d love to share more information and hear about ways I can design a [workshop, speech, keynote, session] that’s perfect for the audience.

Thank you for your consideration.

All the best,

[Name] 

Pitching yourself as a speaker at an event can feel intimidating. If you approach your initial email with catchy details, credibility, and proof that you’d connect with the event’s audience, you’re more likely to get a response and perhaps even find yourself on their stage.