Variety owner P-MRC has made a significant investment in South by Southwest, the parent company of the annual SXSW festival. The deal brings top entertainment news brands together with an expansive digital and in-person platform for festivals, conferences, markets other live events.
The partnership calls for the existing South by Southwest management team to continue to lead the business. After a rocky pandemic year that forced the last-minute cancellation of the March 2020 festival in Austin, Texas, which was set to take place just as the nation went into the grip of lockdown. The 2021 edition was held virtually and now the organization is focused on returning to an in-person gathering in March 2022.
“It has been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included,” said Roland Swenson, CEO and co-founder of South by Southwest. “When Jay Penske approached us with an interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us. Both of our companies share a passion for producing high quality content that helps shape modern culture, so this feels like a natural alliance. Now we are focused on the March 2022 event, and we’re honored to embark on a new chapter of SXSW with both his experience and the capabilities of P-MRC at our side.”
Discussions between SXSW and P-MRC have been held on and off for some time.
“We are grateful and proud to become enduring partners with SXSW, and collaborate with its exceptional team,” said PMC chairman Jay Penske. “Since 1987, SXSW has been the world’s premier festival centered at the convergence of tech, media, film, and music. Today SXSW continues to be one of the most recognized brands for empowering creative talent and bringing together the brightest creators of our time. As part of this significant investment, we plan to build upon SXSW’s incredible foundation while extending the platform further digitally and assisting Roland and his incredible team to bring their vision to even greater heights.”
The annual spring gathering in the Lone Star state has become an important stop on Hollywood’s promotional circuit and the awards calendar. The event began in 1987 as a music-focused festival that became known as a launch pad for buzzy rock bands.
For more than a decade, film and TV screenings have been a huge part of the festival. SXSW has also been ahead of the curve in showcasing and studying the digital media revolution. As befitting a capital city, the festival also has become a draw for politicians looking to woo the entertainment industry and digitally savvy young voters.
P-MRC is the joint venture established in October 2020 by Penske’s PMC and MRC that brought the Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Vibe under the same roof as Variety, Rolling Stone and other entertainment and lifestyle media brands.
(Pictured: David Byrne at the 2019 edition of SXSW.)