Effy Godwin
June 26, 2019
Reading time: 3.5 minutes

A change from the classic festival field set up, most of these festivals transform and take over multiple venues throughout the city they are held in. Although most festivals allocate a small section of their lineups to new music and emerging artists, for these festivals it is of paramount importance that the budding musicians are the focal point of their festivals.

SXSW - Austin, Texas, USA

Photo credit: themusicnetwork.com

South by Southwest, known as ‘SXSW’ or ‘South by’, is a collection of events celebrating a wide range of mediums, featuring film, conferences, interactive media, and our focus: music festivals. Held annually in Austin, Texas over the course of 9 days, SXSW is a hub of creativity, bringing in vast sums of money for the local economy as it attracts attendees, artists, and speakers from over 60 countries. Grimes, The White Stripes, and M.I.A’s music careers were all kicked off at SXSW. The SXSW music festival aims to highlight the next generation of talent in the music industry, known as ‘Showcasing Artists’. 

Unlike the classic festival set up, performances take place in parks, churches, clubs, bars, and hotels throughout downtown Austin. Not only does the festival provide the opportunity for such artists to grow their fan base through the extra exposure, but there are also a number of management and PR firms, record labels, lifestyle brands, media outlets, booking agencies, export offices, and publishers who help curate and attend the festival, providing crucial networking opportunities. SXSW in genre fluid, offering performances from over 300 artists that span a huge range of genres. 2019’s Showing Artist lineup included the likes of Yung Lean, Georgia, Grace Carter and KOKOKO!

The Great Escape - Brighton, UK

Photo Credit: greatescapefestival.com

Spawned from SXSW, the Great Escape is basically the UK’s equivalent. Brighton is a bustling and creative city filled with emerging musicians. Pretty much every venue and space is taken over by The Great Escape for 3 days of constant performances every May. Anyone who wants to be anyone in the UK music industry will be after a set at The Great Escape. It’s renowned for showcasing new music and the latest industry trends and features artists from around the world. This years lineup featured the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Andrra, EUT, Bad Animal, Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, Foals and Friendly Fires.

Sonar Festival - Barcelona, Spain

Photo credit: bandwagon.asia

Set in the sunny city of Barcelona, Sonar Festival is renowned for featuring both mainstream and underground dance and electronic music. Described as a ‘pioneering cultural event’, the festival is just one part of the Sonar project. With the likes of the Gorillaz, Disclosure, A$AP Rocky, Andy C, and Peggy Gou billed on their lineup it’s no wonder this is such a popular music festival which has taken itself global including to Hong Kong. On top of the biggest names, Sonar also features showcasing artists, providing them with the perfect opportunity for extra exposure from an international audience. SonarDome and SonarLab are just two of the sponsored venues which showcases the newest music and emerging artists.

Waves Vienna - Vienna, Austria

Photo credit: wavesvienna.com

Waves Vienna provides newcomers and rising stars from predominantly Rock, Club, Electronic and Alternative genres, the chance to perform in some of Vienna’s most iconic venues. The 3-day festival is hosted in Vienna’s 9th district attracting musicians from Austria, Eastern Europe and even further across the globe. Having emerging artists is a vital part of Waves Vienna’s ethos so each year they allocate a significant section of the lineup from a different elected country. This way audiences get to experience artists they wouldn’t normally hear and musicians from all over the world get the opportunity to perform in Europe. 2019 is offering Portugal and Slovakia as their elected countries so you can expect an increased number of artists from those countries this coming September.


Iceland Airwaves - Reykjavik, Iceland

Photo Credit: icelandnaturally.com

The 4-day music festival held in November might be a little on the chilly side temperature wise but musically it’s nothing but hot, hot, hot. Originally coordinated as a one off event 20 years ago, Iceland Airwaves has come leaps and bounds from the airplane hanger it was first held in. There have been many famous acts to have performed over the years including Bjork, Florence and the Machine, Bombay Bicycle Club, Yoko Ono, Everything Everything and Fat Boy Slim.

Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, a country known for cultivating and nourishing budding homegrown artists it’s no surprise Iceland Airwaves is all about the little guy. The festival takes pride in filling approximately half of its lineup with Icelandic emerging artists, with the remainder featuring international breakout musicians. This year’s lineup features performances from Icelandic artists John Grant, Aron Can, Between Mountains and Seabear, as well as from international artists Agent Fresco, PAVVLA, The Howl & The Hum and Tiny Ruins.