The cofounder of the huge SXSW trade show has died

Louis Meyers, co-founder of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival
and former director of the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance, has died of a heart attack, according to Austin 360.
Meyer’s death comes on the day this year’s South by Southwest kicks off its 10 day run, opening with an interview with Barack Obama.

The show originally focused on music, but now has separate tracks devoted to technology and film.

Meyers was a part of the SXSW festival’s board from its creation in 1987 through 1994, at which point he sold his stake in the festival and retired. Meyer’s focus on music on music rather than specticle is what caused him to sell his share. He discussed his final festival experience to Pitch music in 2013.

“That year, there were 640 acts, and my goal was to scale that back to around 500,” he says. “Now, of course, there’s 2,300 official acts. And what you lose by having that many acts is quality. You can’t prescreen all that talent efficiently and put it out in a way where the industry can digest it. And so I felt that the continued expansion of South By was — I don’t want to say greedy but find a nice way to say greedy.”

Still smitten with music, Meyers was a director of both the Louisiana Music New Orleans Pride conference and Ausin Music Network TV station before starting a 9 year stint as the executive director of the International Folk Alliance. Although he had a particular love of folk music, his view of what folk music was wasn’t restricted to music created during a certain time period, or with specific instruments.

“…In my world, every single day marks a new day of traditional music,” he says. “The Beatles — they fit every criteria of traditional music. Anywhere you go, everybody can sing Beatles songs. You can sit down anywhere on the planet and play a Bob Marley song and people will know the words. That’s tradition. To me, that’s folk.”

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