Paste Magazine's Caren Kelleher has taken a look at emerging trends at SXSW and found that just as the conference is receiving increasing criticism for getting too big, 20% more bands than ever before have already been accepted to official showcases. Kelleher counts 1594 bands in 2008 vs. 1331 in 2007.
SXSW officials have been complaining loudly that unofficial showcases are hurting the conference and perhaps their solution is to bring more acts under the official umbrella. But in an era of info and musical overload, the less is more approach might have yielded better results despite the inevitable howls of exclusivity.
The unspoken reality, however, is that many conferences make much of their income from submission, showcase and attendance fees . Even when sponsorships provide the the bulk of the financial support, more shows by more bands mean more sponsorship sales opportunities.
The independent music industry needs a gathering place for its tribe and Austin provides that as well as serving as a new band and product launching pad. But SXSW officials have increasingly difficult choices ahead and if they don't make them soon; the conference's very relevance could be threatened.