Photo by Jake Jacobson
Meyers founded SXSW in 1987 alongside a team that also included Roland Swenson, Nick Barbaro, and Louis Black. Just seven years later, he sold his stakes in the festival, telling Celebrity Access that he felt burned out. “The stress of the conference, primarily the music festival, was causing health problems for me, so it was time to step aside,” he said.
He then traveled to New Orleans as well as Europe before returning to Austin again to work at a music television channel. Meyers also was a professional musician; he recorded and toured with acts like Jello Biafra, Tommy Ramone, and Bill & Bonnie Hearne.
Since its inception, SXSW has grown to become one of the most popular festivals in the world. The 2016 edition kicked off earlier today and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. In 2013, Meyers told Kansas City’s The Pitch why SXSW found success.
“The reason South by Southwest worked for the industry is because we took the time to be the A&R people,” said Meyers. “We cleared through thousands of showcase entries to find a few hundred acts that we felt were ready to be seen by the industry. It was critical to me personally that every act at South By was worth seeing, that nobody would walk away going, ‘How the hell did that band get booked at this thing?’”