Over a period of four days, the city of Austin, Texas, hosts about 1,000 bands at venues spread across the entire city. The festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), is one of the largest in the United States. And it's also a major contributor to the city's economy. In 2008, the city predicted that the festival would bring a $110-million-dollar boost to its economy [source: Austin Business Journal].
South by Southwest is a bit more commercial than many other music festivals. Record labels scout this event for new sound, and musicians hope to shake hands with deal makers in the biz. But all that's lost on the crowds of festival goers who are simply there to hear live music. Passes to the festival can cost up to $700 -- not cheap. But you're sure to see some big name bands as well as fresh talents. Music acts like Van Morrison, Metallica, Tori Amos and Devo have played the gig.
The music festival is joined by an interactive and film festival. The film and music festivals are run separately but simultaneously in March. The interactive festival has gained a huge following among Web entrepreneurs. In fact, Twitter was launched at SXSW in 2007. The festival also gives away free MP3 samples of many of its featured artists.