By Cameron Roberts, Sydney Strategy Lead, Ryvalmedia
“Humans are not very good at conceptualising time”, Toby Norton-Smith, Managing Director of x15ventures, a venture scaler powered by CommBank, highlighted on the start of Day 5. The land we gathered on at Tumbalong Park has been consistently inhabited by the Gadigal people of the Eora nation for 60,000 years. He calculated that was the equivalent of 2,000 generations. That’s 2,000 generations balancing the ecology, living in harmony with the land. We have half a generation to find meaningful solutions to rebalance it.
Norton-Smith led a panel of 4 start-up finalists, vying for investment in for their businesses that tackle climate change. It was heartening to hear that there were 79 applications to x15ventures’ accelerator program – a lot of smart, passionate people are looking at how we can innovate to facilitate the change that’s needed to address big human problems. A key point from Cat Long, CEO of Trace, a carbon tracking platform for SMEs, was that without measurement there can’t be management. Programs and initiatives that help with behaviour change are essential, but we’ve got to understand the data to optimise our impact.
For 25 years, Google has been picking up a lot of data on human behaviour through search. In an overview of 2023 trending search terms, Melanie Silva, Google Australia and NZ Managing Director, shared data over the year with some insight into what’s on people’s minds. It’s no wonder AI has been such a big topic of conversation during SXSW, across all of Australia it’s the top trending topic. It was fantastic to see the Matildas at no. 2, an amazing moment of coming together for Australia. It also demonstrated how it engaged a larger audience, Silva highlighted that the average share of search for sport in Australia is 6%. This year it increased to 8%.
One of the highlights of the festival so far was Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, aka Chance the Rapper. Speaking to the power of music as a tool of liberation for marginalised communities, Chance passionately told a full auditorium that ‘people with the ideas and people with the money are lopsided’. An important point to remember for everyone working in creative industries.
It was great to hear brands supporting music in culture. Jo Rose, CMO of Endeavour Group, spoke to music being a space for a voice and self-expression and it being an authentic way of connecting with audiences. Younger customers expect it from brands. Rose highlighted how it’s important to do what you say, their platform “Acts not just ads” pushed the BWS team to get into experiences. It was truly brought to life at SXSW in their latest act, the BWS Cool Room in Chippendale.
Today is our last recap of SXSW. There has been a bit of chatter that people couldn’t get into all the sessions they wanted. But it was never the point. Chance said it best; “[SXSW is] a very indie festival. It’s where people are discovered”. Discovery can only happen looking wider than your current horizon. And SXSW let me do that.