VMDO Announces Support For Victorian Artists At SXSW 2024

31 January 2024 | 3:56 pm | Ellie Robinson

The organisation will help local artists crack the US market by setting them up with industry assistance and financial kickstarting.

SXSW 2024

SXSW 2024 (Supplied)

The Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO) has announced it’s backing Victorian artists heading over to Austin, Texas for this year’s South By Southwest festival (SXSW), offering support by way of industry leads and financial assistance.

The program comes in tandem with US-based marketing agency Marauder, who will aim to give artists a leg up in the region by assisting in “identifying and getting on the radars of their SXSW industry targets, as well as with pre-festival PR and pitching for showcases”. The company will work closely with the Victorian cohort throughout February and March, with VMDO vouching that their aid will help participants land in Austin with “a strategy, goals and, ideally, some meetings already in place”.

The goal, VMDO said in a press release, is to “help acts make the most of any opportunities available while in Texas”. The organisation wrote: “We all know that getting there is barely half the battle; grabbing attention and achieving your goals is much harder, and it’s heart-breakingly easy to leave Austin with nothing but a massive bill to show for your efforts. This program aims to lower the chance of that happening by hiring SXSW veterans to ensure you make the most of your time there.”

For artists that already feel comfortable navigating the industry side of SXSW, VMDO will still offer its support with a financial contribution. If an eligible artist or manager opts to “cash out” of the Marauder program, they’ll be given a small grant to assist in travel, production and conference costs. The org says exact amounts will depend on uptake, but grants will land somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000 each.

So reads a word of advice from VMDO: “We would encourage all applicants, but particularly first-timers, to consider whether that level of contribution is more important to them than receiving help in setting up a successful visit.”

In a formal statement, director Aijia ‘AJ’ Li affirmed that VMDO “has a history of helping Victorians get to global showcases such as SXSW and The Great Escape”, but recognises that “merely attending these events is just the beginning”. She expounded: “The true challenge lies in leveraging these opportunities effectively. In previous years, we've observed artists who, despite reaching SXSW, didn’t fully capitalise on its potential, and this resulted in significant expenses with limited returns.

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“This new program offers tailored solutions, whether it's hands-on assistance through our partnership with Marauder or financial aid for those confident in navigating the event independently. Our aim is to ensure that every Victorian act and manager can extract the maximum value from their SXSW experience.”

Eligibility for the program is impressively wide-ranging: it’s open to all Victoria-based acts performing an official showcase at SXSW 2024 – regardless of management status – as well as all Victoria-based managers heading along with an act (from any state) performing at the festival. Applications are open now, and close at 11:59pm AEDT on Sunday February 11; head here for all the relevant info on how to apply.

So far, 13 Victorian acts have been announced for official SXSW showcases: Alexander Biggs, Alice Ivy, Anna Smyrk, The Belair Lip Bombs, Bones And Jones, Cool Sounds, Elle Shimada, Folk Bitch Trio, Forest Claudette, HighSchool, Ivoris, Keenan Te and Sui Zhen. The first lineup announcement arrived last October, followed by the second announcement in December, and the third earlier this month.