In 1982, Roland Swenson, a band manager in Austin, splurged $75 of his band’s budget to travel to New York City to attend a music conference. Knowing that his band wasn’t happy about the expenditure, he hustled to make sure the trip paid off. On the first day he successfully tracked down a booking agent and secured a $200 gig.
As Swenson told Texas Music Matters, he figured if this model worked in the Big Apple, it would work in Austin, so in 1987, he co-founded the SXSW Music Festival, which in its inaugural year hosted 172 acts and more than 700 attendees. For Austin bands, Swenson and his co-founders had created the most efficient way to connect with music fans, agents and distributors — ever. That is, until the arrival of the Internet.