SXSW Music begins today-What bands are you going to see?

While the interactive and film portions of colossal media festival South by Southwest (SXSW) began last Friday, the SXSW Music festival begins today, offering Austin music lovers the weekend of the year.

The festival, which lasts from March 17-21, is one of the largest music festivals in the United States. Acts from around the globe will perform on over 80 stages throughout downtown Austin, providing residents and visitors with more than 80 musical options-at any given moment. There are literally hundreds of performers every night, from every conceivable genre.

SXSW began in 1987, and is based around the Austin Convention Center in downtown Austin, TX. There are numerous conferences throughout the day, and the music starts playing at 8 p.m., lasting until 2 a.m every night.

The conference has grown tremendously in the years since its inception. While the conference began with only 700 registrants in 1987, but has now ballooned to have nearly 12,000 registrants. When the film and interactive components were added to the conference in 1994, registrants increased further, with the other two festivals drawing in 17,000 more registrants every March.

The festival is literally responsible for putting Austin on the map as a music city. While it was always a place with a strong music environment, cited as a party city ever since the 19th century, Austin musicians had no way to reach out to the music world as a whole or get them interested pre-SXSW.

Now, however, SXSW is perhaps the big event in the music industry, and is now the largest revenue-producing special event in the Austin economy, generating at least $110 million in 2008 alone.

SXSW is also unique in that they offer free mp3 downloads of featured artists from the event. This year, over 1,000 tracks were released by the festival, and were subsequently aggregated into major torrent packs by the bittorrent community.

If you're interested in that torrent pack, the unofficial collection can be found here, along with the packs for the SXSW festivals from 2005 on.

However, if all you're interested in is the list of performers and venues, then you should head over to, where you can find a list of performers organized by date and venue. So, if you're in Austin and have registered for SXSW, be sure to check out at least a handful of this cornucopia of musical talent.

Who knows? Maybe the artist you go see will be the next big hit-always a possibility with SXSW.