Once a year, some of the most creative and innovative people in the world gather in Austin, Texas. By day, they put their heads together; by night, they enjoy some fantastic parties. The digital, music and creative industries trade fair SXSW (South by Southwest) has become one of the world’s leading festivals for young entrepreneurs, artists, digital start-ups and free thinkers. They deal with the digital future, listen to or make new music and discuss solutions for artificial intelligence, mobility and health. Germany is a heavyweight at the festival: in 2018 it was the biggest European presence. As part of the Deutschlandjahr USA, the Sequencer Tour, a showcase for German creativity, will be making Austin its first stop this year. The aim is to develop joint ideas for the future of the digital society and economy. Innovation is thus a priority in Germany’s partnership of shared values with the US.
Creativity meets politics
“The fact that these projects of the Deutschlandjahr USA are being showcased here at the SXSW with such a diverse programme is a great success,” said Minister of State Müntefering in Austin. Here, she continued, creatives were getting together with representatives of the world of politics, business and the media to find answers. How is the new digital technology changing the world? What opportunities, what risks does it bring? What incentives should policymakers provide?
Media, music and mobility
The Sequencer Tour is a digital roadshow organised by the Berlin digital conference re:publica, the Reeperbahn Festival and Hamburg-based next media accelerator. re:publica invited bestselling sci-fi author Cory Doctorow to the SXSW to talk about EU copyright law and organised a panel with leading creatives from Germany to look at the future of mobility. In the evening there was – how could it be otherwise here? – a party with bands and DJs from Germany.
Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival has become one of the most important centres for the music industry worldwide, and as Europe’s biggest club festival showcases many up-and-coming artists, as well as established acts. At the SXSW it is organising a large-scale networking event and sessions on the future of the creative sector.
Next media accelerator is a platform for start-ups in the media industry and is driving innovation with its young, international members. In Austin it organised media matches, where young start-ups from Europe were brought together with media executives and investors. The impact of digitalisation is particularly visible in the media market: the death of newspapers, fake news and citizen journalism are just three of the many new phenomena. Around one fifth of the Deutschlandjahr projects focus on digitalisation. But even more innovative Deutschlandjahr projects can be seen at the SWSW: the Berlin Institute for Sound and Music is presenting the sound project Hexadome; there is a “virtual Bauhaus” to discover; and the Goethe-Institut is there with the mobile food truck “Wiesn in a Box”.