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SxSW Wi-Fi Heaven

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Austin is literally putting music in the air at this year’s SxSW Music Festival:

    Citizens of Austin, Texas, have free wireless Internet access in nearly 30 restaurants and coffee shops around the city. Thanks to the South by Southwest music festival, patrons also enjoy the added benefit of free music.

    The city’s well-known independent music festival, also known as SXSW, is providing this year’s library of music for free through an iTunes shared music playlist. The music library will be available during the festival, and possibly after the festival ends. Music fans can access the collection at free wireless hotspots around the city, whether lunching at Guero’s Taco Bar or sipping coffee at the Triumph Café.

    More than 1,200 acts will play at this year’s festival, which runs from March 17 to 21. About 600 musicians provided a free MP3 of their work to run on the South by Southwest website. The festival then took the extra step of making the whole catalog available through a shared playlist over a Wi-Fi network.

    “If someone launches iTunes, these 600 songs will pop up in their iTunes,” said Scott Wilcox, chief technical adviser for SXSW. “Because we have their audio in-house, we’re able to — with the appropriate permission — make these tracks available for free as part of the promotion for playing South by Southwest.”

    The annual music festival has made its library available for free on its website for the past several years. However, this is the first year that the music-sharing application is available for free to anyone taking advantage of Austin’s wireless hotspots.

    ….”This online audio is an extremely valuable resource for the attendees of the festival,” Wilcox said. “You can find new cool music that you’ve never heard before. It’s a very practical tool for people to use to decide what to go see.”

    ….Austin Wireless City, the nonprofit organization that deploys and operates a free wireless network in the city, provides access at 28 independent bars, coffee shops and restaurants — with 55 more on the way. [Wired]

It’s all about promotion and catching as many ears as possible. With 1,200 hundred acts, this added layer of “information” will be very helpful. Austin is totally cool – I’d consider moving there.

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About Eric Olsen