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SXSW 2011 Preview

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Celebrating its 25th year, the South by Southwest Music Conference kicks off tomorrow, March 16, and blazes its way through Sunday, March 20. It’s five crazy days of live music, panel discussions and industry trade shows. Over 2000 musical acts from 61 countries will perform on 90 stages across multiple venues in and around downtown Austin, Texas.

Since its inception in 1987, SXSW has become THE place for emerging indie-rock, rap, folk, and pop bands to rock their way onto the radar of labels and into the hearts and ears of music fans from all across the world. And in recent years, the festival has evolved from an underground and emerging music showcase to a place where established and household name acts such as Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Yoko Ono, Dolly Parton and the Beastie Boys also come to play and to share their industry knowledge for the next generation of musicians.

SXSWAnd in 2011, whether you’re heading out to see it live in person or watching at home, you can expect another rockin’ week of live music to come your way. We’ll be live in Austin to cover the action, and here’s a quick preview of the bands we’re looking forward to checking out, an interactive mobile guide and a few online hubs where you can tune in to catch all the live action throughout the week.

Top Music Picks: Chart Your SXSW Course

With so much live music to soak up, it’s impossible to see it all, and the best part of SXSW is that you end up discovering new bands by accident as you explore and wander around the streets of Austin. For starters, The Strokes, TV on the Radio, Lupe Fiasco, Smith Westerns, Keys N Krates, Bright Eyes, The Seedy Seeds, California Wives, Hey Rosetta!, Gayngs and Sharon Van Etten are just a few of the bands on our must-see list and we’ll tell you more about them later. But in the meantime, scope out the official SXSW schedule. And make sure to check out this handy list of unofficial shows here.

Download iTunes SXSW Playlist

Get your ears ready with a sonic snapshot of the mega-plethora bands playing this week by downloading the iTunes free SXSW playlist.

The Official SXSW Mobile App

Yes, there’s an app for that! The SXSW mobile app (iPhone and Android) is a fantastic tool to help you plan your SXSW adventure and keep you plugged in as you move about downtown Austin.

Watch and Interact Online: AOL Surprise Shows, SXSW Hub

Of course you can get social with SXSW, and so do it and follow along on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

And if you’re looking for surprise shows as you cruise the festival grounds, then you might want to follow AOL Music at SXSW. This year AOL Music will have three secret shows “pop up” at unexpected locations around Austin during SXSW Music. Fans can follow @LiveFromAOL and @SXSW on Twitter to learn who’s playing when and where. Announcements for each show will happen 12-24 hours before the bands hit the stage.

You can also watch SXSW shows online and learn about the history of the trend-making festival by checking out AOL’s official hub.

Livestream Events

Livestream also has an extensive offering of virtual SXSW shows to tune into, including:

Austin 2011

IFC Crossroads House

Facebook Live

PureVolume House

The Sessions Presents: The Factory Live from Austin

Equal Vision Records

Have fun and stay tuned for more as we report back live from Austin with panel discussion news, updates, reviews and artist interviews!

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