Few institutions can curate Austin the way South by Southwest (SXSW) has in its 35 years of programming. Even without the local advantage, Rolling Stone comes close with half a century of experience under its belt. Surprisingly enough, next year will mark the first year the two will enter a formal partnership during the SXSW festival, from March 14-17, 2023.
Showcases (accessible to wristband holders and registrants) are standard fare for the musical festival, which allows companies to participate through booking artists, often in micro-festival formats. There are nearly 200 performers already signed on for 2023 showcases. “The Future 20” is Rolling Stone’s contribution, which starts immediately among the more established showcases at a four-night span, and is already accepted as an annual project. It also booked an almost impossibly great venue: ACL Live at the Moody Theater.
Logistics aside, the real draw is, of course, the expertise behind Rolling Stone’s curation and the reputation it takes to book high-competition acts. In this case, the magazine has tasked its editors, in collaboration SXSW programmers, with choosing its top 20 emerging artists. This group will be international, genre-diverse, and perhaps most useful, introduced in editorial coverage preceding the show.
Nothing’s more exhausting than trying to get all the information on the many SXSW showcases playing in one night, not to mention each performer on the lineup. Audiences are lucky to get a record label bio. Not only will Rolling Stone consolidate all that information, it will tout the special value of each artist in its own voice through interviews, profiles, photos, and social coverage.
“This showcase is inspired by the spirit of SXSW, providing a stage to discover and elevate the next wave of influential artists,” says a press release. “Each night will showcase five acts spanning rock, indie, rap, hip hop, latin, [A]frobeats, R&B, soul, and more, giving fans a high-energy and unique glimpse into the future of music.”
“There is a deep connection between SXSW and Rolling Stone in our shared vision to recognize and highlight the work of rising musical stars,” said Rolling Stone CEO Gus Wenner in the release. “We are proud to give artists the platform to be recognized for their work and to create one more dimension in SXSW’s incredible slate of music programming for years to come.”
The Future 20 showcase is part of a larger initiative following its debut, which serves a similar purpose without the confines of a music festival. The series, called “Future of Music,” includes events as well as editorial coverage, and will be active until the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas.
More information about SXSW, including a list of all currently registered showcases, is available at sxsw.com.