Road to SXSW Sydney: Why Seven is bringing its 2024 Upfront to the festival

ADMA sxsw sydney

Melissa Hopkins: “We’re bringing people into the heart of Seven”

The countdown is well and truly on until SXSW Sydney kicks off for 2023, with punters now beginning to put together lists of what they want to see at the week-long event.

One brand that people won’t be able to miss on the ground will be Seven, with the broadcaster offering a range of experiences on top of their 2024 Upfront presentation. 

Mediaweek caught up with Seven’s chief marketing officer, Melissa Hopkins, ahead of the final preparation for the festival to speak about the partnership between the two massive brands. 

When it comes to what was behind the original decision for Seven to partner with SXSW Sydney, Hopkins credits her “partner in crime and upfronts,” chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette, for coming up with the plan.

“What we found really exciting was that SXSW Sydney is the first festival outside of Austin,” said Hopkins. “The tech, innovation, games, music and the screen industries really converge with culture for unexpected delivery and discovery, and we thought that this was a perfect opportunity for us to really signal a major step change for Seven.”

Seven prides itself on bringing Australians major moments such as the Matildas World Cup campaign and the AFL Grand Final – as well as less expected moments like the John Farnham documentary that catapulted him back into the ARIA Charts earlier this year. Hopkins says that Seven’s creation of “mass cultural experiences” was also a major reason for their interest in the festival.

Ipsos iris sxsw sydney

The Matildas

We thought that there was a really great opportunity to be sitting in an environment that champions creators every single day, and for Seven to really show up and demonstrate at our core what we’re all about, and what makes us different.”

The jewel in the crown of Seven’s presence at SXSW Sydney will be the October 18 Upfront, held within the festival as part of the event partnership. Hopkins said that for her and Burnette,  the whole reason for the partnership was to demonstrate where Seven is now and where the team are going in the future.

“It’s one thing to tell stories, it’s another thing to show it. Showing up at SXSW Sydney for Upfronts, if I’m honest, is a huge responsibility. It is really important that we show up authentically and that our Upfront feels worthy of any other presentation or programme that is happening at South by Southwest. It’s absolutely added to the pressure and upped the stakes a little.

“Our Upfront actually runs the entire week, so whilst we are on the 18th of October, we’ll also be putting on a series of immersive events.”

Outside of the Upfront, Seven will be bringing SXSW Sydney to people all over the country as they bring the digital news team on site for the week, and share the content with the rest of Australia across Sunrise and the news channels.

Seven - Sunrise - Edwina Bartholomew, Natalie Barr, Matt Shirvington and Mark Beretta

Sunrise’s Edwina Bartholomew, Natalie Barr, Matt Shirvington and Mark Beretta

For the people on the ground, however, Seven will be making their presence felt across the festival. 

“We have Seven House in Tumbalong Park, which is open from the Monday through to the Friday. At that house, we have a full week of events across the two floors – from intimate dinners with amazing keynotes, and lunches that are invite only, to masterclasses about AI and tech, creativity, and culture,” said Hopkins.

“We’ve got everything from wine tasting, to a lot of our amazing talent showing up and having discussions, and we have an unbelievable VR experience that I don’t want to give too much away about. We’re bringing people into the heart of Seven, and they get to experience that themselves.”

Seven SXSW Sydney

Top Image: Melissa Hopkins

SXSW Sydney unveils full program ahead of event launch

SXSW Sydney has lifted the lid on its full schedule for 2023, with punters now able to plan out how they will spend the week from 15 – 22 October.

The whole event will be made up of over 1,000 sessions, including 700+ speakers, 300+ performances, 170+ games demos, 200+ screen events, a huge Tech & Innovation expo, as well as a week of free programming in Tumbalong Park.

The full SXSW Sydney 2023 schedule can be seen here.

Recommended sessions from the people in the know can be seen here.

sxsw sydney

Chance the Rapper heading Down Under to speak at SXSW Sydney

Multiple Grammy Award winner Chance The Rapper is heading to Australia to speak at SXSW Sydney 2023 next month.

Celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop, Chance is coming to reflect on the genre’s impact on both his beloved Chicago South Side and a wider world of fans. Described by former US President Barack Obama as “an outstanding role model”, the rapper, singer-songwriter, producer and humanitarian continues to pay his success forward, empowering creative leaders through his SocialWorks foundation and roving international Black Star Line Festival.

Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper

“As we celebrate 50 years of Hip Hop in 2023, I’m reminded of the transformative power this culture has had, not just on the world stage, but on the streets of Chicago’s South Side,” says the Chicago-born rapper. “Hip-hop has provided a rhythm to our stories and a canvas for our creativity. I’m really looking forward to joining SXSW Sydney as a speaker to expound upon Hip Hop’s transcendent legacy.”

Colin Daniels, managing director, SXSW Sydney adds: “Chance The Rapper is renowned for both his chart-topping and community advocacy. There’s few out there like him, who take what they’ve made and use it to build the dreams of others. His genre-blurring sounds reverberate across generations, making him a powerful voice to reflect on the past 50 Years of Hip Hop. His unique perspective bridges the gap between the genre’s rich history and its dynamic future.”

Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker joins SXSW Sydney speaker lineup

SXSW Sydney has announced Charlie Brooker, the creator of the Netflix anthology series Black Mirror, will join as a headline speaker at the futurist event taking place for the first time outside of Austin, Texas, in October.

Black Mirror reveals humanity’s worst traits, greatest innovations and the darkest side of our future and shocks audiences with every episode. The series provides commentary on the potential futures and how humanity can shape them.

Black Mirror - Charlie Brooker

Charlie Brooker

Brooker said: “Having to quickly provide a personal quote for a press release about how excited I am to join the inaugural Sydney-flavoured SXSW event is exactly the sort of thing ChatGPT is for, but I’ve written this one myself because I still care about our species, dammit.

“Although I initially misspelt “inaugural” just then until I got corrected by a machine, so actually maybe we’re just rubbish. This tense love-hate relationship with technology is what Black Mirror is all about,” he said.

“That and stories about prime ministers and pigs. Anyway, I can’t wait to attend and get so cowed by all the creativity and innovation on display that I go home feeling depressed and inadequate. I’m genuinely looking forward to it,” he added.

Colin Daniels, managing director, SXSW Sydney, said: “SXSW Sydney seeks to offer unique perspectives of the future, making Charlie Brooker an ideal speaker for our event. Black Mirror consistently leads the cultural conversation on what we face in the now or may confront in our future, offering a chance for reflection and change. Charlie embodies what attendees can expect from SXSW Sydney; creativity and innovation.”

SXSW Sydney unveils free activities for the general public at Tumbalong Park

SXSW Sydney has unveiled a slew of free activities for everyone to get a taste of what the globally renowned event has to offer, which will be held at Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park.

From 15-22 October, Tumbalong Park will be transformed into a vibrant hub of creativity and innovation, featuring captivating events to ignite the imagination, inspire and entertain.

The free activities offer the chance to experience tech and futuristic fun, from augmented reality at Snapchat House to using drone technology to drive full-sized Rovers on the other side of the country.

This futuristic playground offers the public to dip their toes into SXSW Sydney and enjoy Sydney’s dynamic creative industries in action. The free events range from live music performances, interactive brand activations and tech demos to live gameplay, conference speakers, radio broadcasts and much more.


John Graham, minister for Jobs and Tourism, minister for the Arts and minister for Music and the Night-time Economy, said: “SXSW Sydney will be a unique event that celebrates the ability to wander from place to place, a roving festival offering activations to enjoy along with other members of this creative community – it will be an experience that people are going to love.

“If you’re not on board by now, you’ve got a month to get on board to celebrate the incredible creative people and places we have here in Sydney.”

Geoff Jones, SXSW Sydney chair, said: “We are delighted to be sharing SXSW Sydney with the whole city and to provide a glimpse into the future of technology, music, ideas and gaming with all the action that will take place at Tumbalong Park.”

SXSW Sydney is also pleased to announce The Daily Telegraph as presenting partner of the Tumbalong Park Stage.

Ben English, editor said: “At The Daily Telegraph we’re for a vibrant and exciting Sydney. And that’s exactly what SXSW Sydney will create for a week in October.

“We hope to see all Sydneysiders – and visitors to our great state – enjoying for free the best in show content, be it screenings, bands, presentations or live radio shows, on the Tumbalong Park Stage presented by The Daily Telegraph – elevating Sydney’s reputation as the southern hemisphere’s home of innovation and creativity.”

SXSW Sydney also wishes to acknowledge the City of Sydney’s support this inaugural event, specifically around bringing the events free programming in Tumbalong Park to life.

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said: “The City of Sydney council understands that a city’s culture is its beating heart, so we are delighted to be the Principal Local Government Sponsor of the inaugural SXSW Sydney – an event showcasing emerging talent and the cultural diversity of Sydney and the Asia Pacific.”

Spotify set to take over The Lansdowne Hotel as part of SXSW Sydney

Spotify will take over The Lansdowne Hotel as part of SXSW Sydney to create Spotify House, operating across four days from 18 – 21 October, with up-and-coming artists, future-focused music minds, and unique musical experiences on show.

By day, guests can expect to be informed and inspired as global music thought leaders provide their perspective on the Asia Pacific music industry through panels, workshops and fireside chats. Everything from music discovery to what’s next for K-Pop and how the brand continues to strive for gender equity. Some sessions will be open to SXSW Sydney Badge Holders, while others will be exclusive invite-only events.

In the evenings, the Spotify House stage will feature talent from across the Asian Pacific region, with a focus on Australian and South Korean artists. The full showcase lineup will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Sulinna Ong

Sulinna Ong

Sulinna Ong, Spotify’s global head of editorial, will uncover the global music trends that are moving music (and artists) around the world, while Xavier Jernigan, aka ‘X’, the voice of Spotify DJ, will take a look at how dynamic AI voice with human touch is creating perfect personalisation for listeners.

Also visiting the Harbour City for Spotify House at SXSW Sydney is Jungjoo Park, head of music at Spotify Korea, to uncover the phenomenon that is Hallyu (Korean wave).

Alongside Live Nation Australasia’s Wenona Lok and Virgin Music’s Claire Tate, this panel will explore the rise of Korea’s culture economy from stream to stage.

Gautam Talwar, general manager, Asia Pacific at Spotify, said: “We’re excited to bring Spotify House to SXSW Sydney in October, along with some of Asia Pacific’s best and brightest talent and the sharpest minds in music. It’ll be an action-packed four days and a celebration of some of the region’s most vibrant music cultures that bring the world together.”
The full Spotify House programming and showcase schedule will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

Spotify - Xavier


BRING announces Amex x Universal Music House collaboration as part of SXSW Sydney

BRING: Universal Music for Brands, a division of Universal Music Group, has announced the unveiling of Amex x Universal Music House as part of the major program at this year’s SXSW Sydney festival.

The collaboration affirms the music-based entertainment company’s position in market heading into the festival’s Southern Hemisphere launch.

The landmark announcement marks the evolution of BRING’s partnership with American Express, which most recently saw the creation of a deconstructed city-wide festival post-Covid through their “Back The Night” program in March 2022.

BRING announces Amex x Universal Music House collaboration as part of SXSW Sydney

Adam Ireland, managing director of BRING, said: “Amex x Universal Music House broadens our partnership with American Express, allowing Universal Music to further showcase premier and emerging music talent, as well as future-focused industry panels as part of the inaugural SXSW Sydney Music Festival. We’re extremely proud to be collaborating with the festival, American Express, our music business labels and artists, in creating a unique property for this culturally important event.”

On October 18, 19 and 20, alongside curated live performances, BRING will introduce the acclaimed BRING Artist x Brand Summit (‘BABS’) to SXSW Sydney 2023. Designed to generate conversation and inspire new ways of thinking about collaboration in culture today, Universal Music House will host some of the most innovative artists, brands and thought leaders, unpacking topics for brands, creatives and media agencies leaning into the passion-point of music.

Naysla Edwards, VP of Brand, Marketing and Member Experience at American Express said: “Over the past five years we have looked for ways to back the music industry, providing more than $1 million in grants to emerging artists and businesses. We are delighted to join forces with the BRING team to deliver a platform at this year’s SXSW Sydney that continues our ongoing support of the music industry and provides an incredible experience for all visitors.
“Music has always been a passion area for all of us at American Express and through the House’s overarching theme of Music Futures we’ll showcase some of the best local and international music talent and curate a line-up of innovative thought leaders to inspire, educate and entertain.”

Sean Warner, president + CEO Universal Music Australia and New Zealand, said: “We are mobilising across international and domestic labels focusing on some of the most exciting talent of today and tomorrow.  The partnership with SXSW Sydney, American Express and our artists will play a pivotal role within SXSW Sydney’s Music Festival program and we’re thrilled to activate the first Amex x Universal Music House experience as a truly unmissable part of the festival.”

Colin Daniels, managing director of SXSW, added: “We are delighted to have both American Express and Universal Music be among our partners at SXSW Sydney. This marks a truly momentous moment, in what will undoubtably become a key part of this year’s festival line-up.”

Amex x Universal Music House will host a three day/night schedule of entertainment, a pop-up music store and the BRING Artist Brand Summit.

The House will be open 18, 19, 20 October.  Full event programming details will be announced in the coming weeks, including international talent and hot domestic artists from major Universal Music labels including EMI, Island Records, Neon and more.

Holders of a SXSW Sydney badge of any type, or a Music Festival wristbands, will have access to Amex x Universal Music House.

WPP announces next round of speakers for WPP House at SXSW Sydney

WPP has unveiled the next round of speakers presenting at the WPP House at SXSW and is the named sponsor of the conference’s Marketing & Advertising Track. 

As part of the partnership, WPP will take over Powerhouse Museum to create a central hub called WPP House, where new ideas and current and future issues within the industry will be explored.


WPP House will host WPP’s agencies and partners throughout the week-long event (15-22 October), focusing on the power of creative transformation, providing five days of creative provocation, emerging ideas and open conversations.

The round of speakers presenting include:

• Dylan Alcott AO – Paralympian
• Tolga Balabaner – Creative Strategy Lead, AUNZ, Google
• Jason Barnes – Chief Revenue Officer, APAC, PubMatic
• Stephen Connor – Managing Director, Volvo Car Australia
• Stephanie Coombes – Podcast Content Director, ARN
• Matthew Horn – General Manager, Customer and Digital, Country Road Group
• Matt Hunt – COO APAC, SmartMedia Technologies
• Ben Kerr – CEO/Founder Eco Outdoor Group
• Michelle Martinis – Head of Marketing, Home Ownership, National Australia Bank
• Bronwyn Powell – CEO, AMI (Australian Marketing Institute) 
• Orrie Tzamouranis – Director of Procurement, L’Oréal
• Jacqui Waine – General Manager, Marketing and Community, Scentre Group
• Emily Yri – Vice President, International Marketing, PubMatic

WPP House will also feature experts from across WPP’s network including:

• Tim Devine – Executive Innovation Director, AKQA
• Maria Grivas – CEO, Australia and New Zealand, Mindshare
• Rose Herceg – President, Australia and New Zealand, WPP
• Justin Peyton – Head of Web3, Metaverse and Emerging Channels, Wunderman
• Katie Rigg-Smith – Chief Strategy Officer, Australia and New Zealand, WPP
• Raphael Ruz – Creative Technologist, Hogarth
• Lee Simpson – CEO, whiteGREY
• Christian Solomon – Managing Director, Melbourne, Mindshare
• Mikhail Tokarczyk – Director of Technology and Innovations, Hogarth
• Marine Turner – Group Strategy Director, EssenceMediacom
• Brian Vella – Managing Partner, AKQA

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