confirmed for South By Southwest 2011; Filmed at SF Conservatory of Music; New album due out early 2011

SWAG Bag Relief 2011
Those heavy friggin’ bags. South By Southwest (SXSW), the USA’s largest and most industrious annual music, media and technology conference, is celebrating its 25th year March 11-20, 2011 in Austin, Texas. It’s the one time of year in the USA where three industries and all of the hybrid thinkers within them are face to face for a full week. So what’s not to love? The heavy ass SWAG bag, that’s what.

I work in a converging, burgeoning field of media and technology, which means every year at SXSW there are three swag bags to pick up: Film, Music and Interactive. Walking around with these things subtracts inches from my spine; the yoga does nothing.

SXSW swag bags are traditionally filled with a massive amount of physical media: 20 or more CDs, which are separate from the 20 or more label samplers, brochures, an occasional cool item (two years ago we got camera bags) at least fifteen print magazines that I already read online, and a few that I’ll never read online – or off. Three years ago we got a voo-doo doll in the music bag, but mine didn’t work.

Thousands of attendees leave the contents of their swag bags in hotel rooms. They are heavy additions to luggage, and it can be expensive to check extra bags at the airport. It sucks explaining to a TSA agent why you have a bunk voo-doo doll. Even though it’s all free for registrants, picking up a swag bag is an unpleasant process. You have to wait in line after registration, and depending on your schedule you may end up schlepping around 20-40 pounds of magazines, pamphlets and compact discs for hours.

Finally, after 24 years of swag complaints, technology provides the magic of convenience and finally caught up with SXSW, leaving swag curmudgeons like me wondering what the heck to bitch about in 2011.*

Beginning January 2011, SXSW is implementing SXswag, “An easy and efficient online swag redemption and distribution portal for all SXSW registrants.” According to the site, new items will be available for “download and delivery” up through the start of SXSW. The new sensible option is powered by SXsocial.

*I’ll find something

Fantasy South By swag Bag
While I have no idea what the new bags will yield, here’s my fantasy swag bag:

  • Digital downloads: full albums and EPs, Label Samplers, Films
  • Exclusive photos and posters with printing and framing coupons
  • Interactive magazines, comics, newspapers (media!)
  • Applications, applications, applications (smartphone & desktop)
  • T Shirts delivered to my door
  • Two (small) Flatstock prints delivered to my home
  • Free three month subscriptions to subscription media services (hulu, Rdio, Mog, Spotify, Netflix, free year of PandoraOne, Sirius)
  • Wax, please: give us a few records in the SWAG Bag, delivered to our homes!
  • Social coupons for registrants only
  • “Design your own” SXSW SWAG bag, or SWAG item (customizable swag, delivered to door or for pickup at registration)
  • - A digital download pre release of the new Mountain Goats album, due for release a week after SXSW (and any pre releases that mirror the above)

Want to put something in the SXswag bag? Contact a SXSW Account Exec.

What would you like to see in the new digital SXswag bag?

More SXSW 2011 News: Bands Announced
A third round of band announcements went up on the SXSW Music website. So far there are nine bands from San Francisco on the list:

The San Francisco Embassy At SXSW
If you are still in search of a place to stay in Austin for South By Southwest in 2011, the SF Embassy at SXSW has a few openings left for less than $100 per night.

Reserve a spot and get a half a double bed in one of 11 lofts. The website also indicates availability for couples: “If you are coming with your sweetie, of course you can share a bed.”

Embassy applicants can get a discount as a “room captain,” requiring a little extra work, sweetening the deal. Just fill out the application at the bottom of the page, and indicate your desire to work as a captain. Follow the SF Embassy on Twitter for updates, and see my coverage of SF Embassy from SXSW 2010 here.

Homepage photo of last year’s SXSW Swag Bag(s): Luc Byhet

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