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British Music Embassy Returns to SXSW for Its 16th Year – Can We Have a Documentary Already?

My favorite SXSW showcase, The British Music Embassy (BME), celebrates its 16th year of spotlighting a variety of musical genre and geographical corners of the U.K., from punk and grime, to indie dance, garage thrash, and glam rock. From Northern Ireland and Scotland, to Wales and the Northern Powerhouse of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle, to East of England’s Norwich, Suffolk, and Norfolk, through London and down to the rocky beaches of Brighton.

Latitude 30 has been home to BME from the beginning, with shows packing out Latitude 30 and lines forming down the block of San Jancinto. This year DIY Presents returns to kick off the nighttime shows on Monday, March 12. All the hosts and music entities are back as well, including BBC Music Introducing and BBC Radio 1 with Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 2 with Jo Whiley, BBC 6Music with Steve Lamacq, as well as the UK music trade bodies that make BME possible, year after year; organizations that cover the costs to bring these acts to Austin where the talent of the UK can gain exposure to SXSW music fans and the American music market, one of the largest in the world.

One of the organizations that continuously foots the bill is the Association of Independent Music (AIM), the UK’s independent music trade body established in 1999. “The British Music Embassy continues to be a top destination for key players attending SXSW,” said Paul Pacifico, CEO at AIM. “We’d like to congratulate all the indie acts playing at our showcase on the Thursday night, and all the labels involved. We can’t wait to see where the opportunity takes them.”


PRS Foundation, who this year is sending 25 artists on their first journey to the US, not only supports musicians by paying for travel costs and sponsorship of showcases like BME, but sends music industry professionals to make to critical business connections at SXSW. According to PRS, 89 percent of those they supported through their International Showcase Fund resulted in positive, trackable business outcomes. “It’s also an important contributor to UK music exports – for every £1 of support, artists embarking on an international career generated an additional £8.90 in revenues,” said Vanessa Reed, CEO, PRS Foundation. “SXSW is one of the biggest showcasing festivals in the world and I look forward to following the progress of all the UK artists who are benefitting from our investment as well as our showcasing partnership with BBC introducing.”

Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), the collecting society which licenses music for radio and TV, will be joining the week-long party for the first time, along with the Department for International Trade (DIT). Speaking of music biz dev, the daytime programming is not to be missed. A variety of events like the British Music Abroad Brunch are hosted (I do advise getting your coffee ahead time, as that was the one thing missing last year) along with business networking and international roundtables where delegates discuss opportunities and music business issues with booking agents, promoters, media, distributors, publicists, law firms, management companies, and synch licensing services.


Considering BME takes place within one of the most popular worldwide film festivals and years ago, SXSW introduced the convergence programming where music, film, and technology overlaps, my question is: where is the History of the British Music Embassy documentary??!! I’d love to go back and see that first year in 2002 when Elbow played, hear interviews with bands like Temples or Catfish and the Bottlemen and learn how this legacy, history-in-the-making showcase impacted their life and career. So BBC and PRS, add that to your to-do list, please.

For veterans of BME like me, please get in touch. I would LOVE to hear and share your Embassy moments and experiences on Kaffeine Buzz and who you are most looking forward to seeing in 2018.


In the meantime, put these dates and bands in your SXSW sched and you too will be able to have one of those treasured, “I saw them when” stories.

Monday, March 12
DIY presents Life, Our Girl, Francobollo, Catholic Action, Breakfast Muff

Tuesday, March 13
BBC Music Introducing presents Touts, Bugzy Malone, Pale Waves, Rachel K. Collier, Jerry Williams, Himalayas with Huw Stephens hosting

Wednesday, March 14
BBC Radio 2 presents Nina Nesbitt, Gaz Coombes, Sam Fender, Frank Turner, Jade Bird, Rhys Lewis with Jo Whiley hosting

Thursday, March 15
BBC Radio 6 Music presents Idles, Goat Girl, Girl Ray, Shopping, Life, Nilüfer Yanya with Steve Lamacq hosting

Friday, March 16
BBC Radio 1Xtra presents is still in the works in terms of a line up

Saturday, March 17
BBC Radio 1 presents Benin City, Not3s, Suzi Wu, IAMDDB, Ider, Superorganism, and “Secret Guest” (Wedding Present, perhaps?) with Huw Stephens coming back to host



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