AUSTIN, TEXAS For many festival sponsors these days, rethinking brand presence often means pulling out entirely. But after IFC nixed its annual Crossroads party at South by Southwest this year, the network instead decided to boost its involvement by building a temporary concert and party venue that doubles as a studio to produce original content.
“As a longtime sponsor of SXSW, IFC's goals have always been to capture content from the talent and artists who come to Austin and to invite consumers to experience the brand,” said Grace Garrison, IFC's manager of marketing and events. “With the Crossroads House, we really wanted to marry both of those ideas, producing content for online and on-air while reaching our core audience here in Austin.”
Its new home, a vacant office that IFC found with help from Austin event production firm High Beam, eliminated the need for the network to have a hotel suite for interviews and recordings with bands and filmmakers. The Crossroads House contains a fully functioning recording studio, where as many as 50 guests can watch intimate performances from bands such as Broken Social Scene, Neon Indian, and She & Him. An additional 250 can peek into the transparent-walled structure.
“The idea of having a studio where people are watching television being made, while also seeing the bands they want to see and getting an introduction to our programming gives an experience we think this crowd can really appreciate,” Garrison said.
The 10-day event series took infinitely more preparation than previous SXSW outings. Once IFC settled on the location of the venue back in November, work had to begin on making it a suitable environment for studio-quality recordings. It also needed to look cool. So they turned to former David Stark Design senior project manager Nicole Eways, whose firm, Nikipedia L.L.C., collaborated with Moe Hallak Design & Production to transform the consumer space into a sleek lounge, with colorful accents that create a distinctly '80s aesthetic.
But as with most things at SXSW, the Crossroads House is all about the music. To build an attractive roster of acts for the inaugural series, IFC partnered with booking agencies Bowery Presents and Show Cobra Productions to secure competitive headliners.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the role Moe Hallak Design & Production played in the creation of the studio.