AUSTIN, TEXAS — Every year for the past 30, South By Southwest has rolled through Austin, Texas, like a #brand carnival. Companies like Samsung, Axe and McDonald's wave their wands over parks, bars and parking lots and turn them into multi-faceted, interactive brand experiences and artist showcases. Then, one week later, they disappear, leaving little but a trail of hashtags in their wake.
However, this year, the Spotify House — one of the largest and most in-demand daytime party houses — is determined to do things a little differently. The Swedish streaming giant will be leaving some of its massive setup and resources in the hands of some deserving Austinites who can put it to great use.
Together with DPR Construction and Acoustic Spaces, Spotify will be donating much of its massive audio setup, art and furniture to the Kealing Middle School in order to build a recording studio for its music production classes. Judging by the size and design of the Spotify House, it's going to be one hell of a space.
Kealing is part magnet program, part neighborhood public school, and brings together a diverse group of kids from a wide variety of backgrounds. Students in these two academic systems take mostly separate core classes, but connect over the school's shared music programs.
"Immediately, we fell in love with the school's vision to provide arts resources to all their kids," Kerry Steib, Spotify's director of social impact explained to Mic. "Kealing focuses on the programs that are bringing together kids from every type of background, like music production. But the class needs more resources to go beyond the basics and serve all the students that are interested."
A cadre of volunteers will use Spotify's resources to divide one of the school's existing classrooms into three separate recording studios.
"We're not paying a dime, so this is huge," Kealing principal Kenisha Coburn told the Austin Chronicle. "There are always grant opportunities, but I've never experienced a company coming to campus and doing something of this scope. Usually you have to ask and beg and write."
For Spotify, it's all about trying to create a more lasting connection with the local community, and for encouraging Austin's thriving music scene beyond SXSW.
"We know that music helps us connect with each other and build community, and it's amazing to watch that happen every day at Kealing," Steib told Mic. "I hope that this becomes a creative space where every kid has the opportunity to try something new, make some friends, and create music that gives them confidence in themselves."