- Roundtrip plane ticket to Austin, TX: $350
- Entry to several dozen venues to see more live music than your brain can feasibly enjoy in the span of 120 hours: $$
- Sleeping eight to a room and balling your joyful eyes out because you've just been picked up by a major label: Priceless
Now, multiply that by the approximately 125,000 people who attend SXSW every year, and you create a market that does have a price -- nearly $95 million, an amount that the local Austin economy has come to depend on as an enormously lucrative annual event unparalleled by any other American music festival.
Hailed as an indispensable event to the music, film, and technology industries, SXSW attracts tens of thousands of rockers and industry movers ‘n’ shakers to the city every year, and while more than 1,700 bands are expected to perform (and spend) at this year's festival, the real money is being laid down by the talent snipers and working professionals there to snatch ‘em up.
Attempting to track the economic behavior among the wide range of festival attendees, economist John Rees says "SXSW is targeting both an affluent demographic and people with expense accounts. You may have a band sleeping eight to a room, but you may have an executive spending 20 times the amount over the course of the festival that that band is spending."
According to the Austin Business Journal, roughly $18 million is contributed to the permanent staff and operational expenses of SXSW, $77 million in various spending to the local economy by attendees during their brief stay, $18 million to food and drink establishments, $13 million in media coverage, $12 million in hotel expenditures, and $7 million in the transportation sector, amounting to approximately $95 million, both directly and indirectly filtered into the local Austin economy by SXSW attendees annually. Last year, that figure was conservatively estimated at $110 million.
Well, hot damn. If money makes the world go round, Austin is the axis.