Apple Combines iTunes Festival With South by Southwest

Music

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Apple has decided to move its free, monthlong concert series to the U.S. from London and fold it in to the South by Southwest annual music festival in Austin, Texas. The iTunes Festival is set to take place in Austin this year from March 11 to 15 and will feature performances from Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull, and Willie Nelson, among others. Those performances will be available for streaming through the iTunes Store both live and afterwards.

This is the first time that the iTunes Festival has been held in the United States. Previously, the free concert series lasted a month and was held at the Roundhouse Theater in London. Last year’s event featured performances from Lady Gaga, Elton John, Katy Perry, Queens of the Stone Age, and the Pixies. The event has been held in London and taken place over the course of a month for the past seven years, Rolling Stone reports.

“It’s got a great vibe for music, and it’s centrally located, so timing-wise it works well to broadcast across the U.S.,” Apple executive Eddy Cue said of the decision to hold the event in Austin in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday. “One of the cool things about trying to do the festival is that it’s all about the music, the musicians and the fans. You want it in a really close atmosphere where the fans are getting to see these musicians in places they’ll never see them again, because they play in much bigger venues.”

Coldplay told the Associated Press that they were “thrilled” to be chosen to play the first night: “It’s a great honor for our band and we hope everyone has a fantastic time.”

South by Southwest is an annual two-week-long music festival held in Austin that kicks off the summer festival season. The most recent additions to the festival’s lineup were announced last week. Performances by St. Vincent, Damon Albarn, Kelis, and Perfect Pussy will be sponsored by NPR. Los Lonely Boys and Melissa Etheridge were early additions to the lineup. Historically, the event’s organizers have waited until the last minute to announce the biggest headliners.

The event is unique among summer festivals in that it takes place within a city and the performances are held inside Austin’s numerous bars and theaters, rather than being held outside like other big summer festivals, including Bonnaroo and Coachella. Having the performances take place indoors mean viewers can get a more intimate experience with better sound quality than is found at other festivals, and that makes South by Southwest more suited to being filmed and streamed through iTunes than a large outdoor performance.

Cue didn’t say whether the U.S. version of the iTunes Festival would become an annual event in which the company would continue to partner with South by Southwest. “We’ll see where it leads us. I can tell you when we did the London one for the first time, we did it for a week in London and look what it’s become,” he said to theĀ Associated Press.

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