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China to take tech, music to SXSW

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-03-07 23:27

Cutting-edge technologies and music from China will make an appearance at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, from March 9-18.

With more than 30 years of history, SXSW has grown from a musical festival to a multi-themed conference and festival attended by creative people from around the world.

Former president Obama and tech titans like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have spoken at SXSW in the past. Music, film and emerging and cutting-edge technologies are now major themes of SXSW.

The event, usually lasting about 10 days, attracted more than 421,000 attendants last year, about 22 percent of whom were from foreign countries, including China.

There was a trickle of Chinese artists and companies coming to SXSW in recent years, mostly individually.

“With so many programs and attendants, they were like sand lost in the vast ocean and got very little notice” said Vivian Forrest, founder and CEO of China Gathering at SXSW. “SXSW wants to explore the China market and we started the China Gathering program last year.”

“China Gathering’s goal is to slowly bring China’s quality companies, music and films into the official program and help to connect them with American companies,” said Forrest.

About 40 people from 15 mostly high-tech Chinese companies, including WeChat, Mobike, DataMesh and Zhihu, attended SXSW last year.

This year, China Gathering at SXSW will continue to focus on high tech while additionally introducing music components. Participating companies include Alibaba, Ehang, Mobike and Ant Financial.

“We aim to bring technologies with China characteristics to SXSW,” Forrest said.

SXSW’s interactive program is suited for emerging and cutting-edge technologies. China has been leading in technologies for the cashless and sharing economies.

“China can seize the newest trends in technology by attending SXSW. The event also functions as a big incubator — data show that about 10 percent of the companies at SXSW were acquired after the event,” Forrest said.

Several Chinese musicians will make an appearance at “China Night” on March 15. The program is organized by the MTA Music Festival of China, and will include Second Hand Rose, Re-Tros, Moxizishi, Higher Brothers and XiaoXia.

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