After featuring top-40 mainstays like Coldplay and Pitbull last year, SXSW organizers are reporting that there will be no iTunes Music Festival at this years incarnation of the huge industry event.
At this phase in gearing up for the festival, exactly what bands will play at SXSW is not entirely clear. But, as the Austin Chronicle reports, we do know what will be absent from this year’s festivities, including the iTunes Festival. Last year was the first time that the iTunes Festival made a stop at the industry convention, but it appears that it could also very well be the last.
Though SXSW is more known for scouring backlogs of underground or up-and-coming artists, looking for the rare jewel in plain sight or the diamond in the rough, the iTunes Festival represented an outlet for mainstream and established acts to perform at the festival–and, likely, could have helped the convention expand in terms of mass appeal. To give you an idea, the iTunes Festival held within SXSW last year included performances from incredibly well-known and diverse bands like Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Soundgarden, Pitbull, Keith Urban and Willie Nelson, among others.
According to SXSW brand manager Brad Spies, this sort of treatment from large corporate sponsors is fairly typical. “Brands deciding on their involvement at South by Southwest is somewhat similar to how the bands decide whether or not to come and play. Do they have a new product to promote, an idea to test, a message to get out, or do they just love being involved year after year?”
The Austin Chronicle further detailed how the festival is also not putting on the 62-foot-tall, vending-machine-shaped Doritos Stage this year. The attraction was another outlet for pop music performers that had been in wide use since 2012. Unfortunately, the Doritos Stage got some bad press last year when the city refused Lady Gaga a permit to perform on the stage. Since the festival is announced on such short notice, bookers and promoters often have to work overtime to acquire these permits for the artists they’re representing. In the case above, it’s likely that all parties involved could take a huge out of pocket hit.
Another concern is for the venue that housed the iTunes festival last year, the Moody. As one of the the largest and nicest venues in Austin, it remains to be seen what bands or artists could possibly pull as big a draw as the featured iTunes artists from last year. Rumors circulated that U2 might perform a SXSW concert at the Moody (along with rumors that Bono would be the keynote speaker of the music festival). However, the major bicycling accident that Bono suffered last November have lead the singer to state that he will need to spend all his time focusing on recovering for U2’s upcoming stadium tour.
Amidst all concerns, SXSW organizers just released the fourth round of artists, highlighted by Run the Jewels, Perfume and the Vaccines. In case you missed it, here are the performer announcements for the first, second and third rounds as well.