The Austin 100: Picking The Best Of SXSW

Full SXSW Coverage for Live Concerts and Exclusive Performances

We're constantly launching new projects at NPR Music: concerts at Bob Boilen's desk, songwriting experiments in our studios, blogs by musicians we love and admire, and so on. Some involve more labor and logistics than others, but each invariably requires a days-long process in which we try to name the damn thing. (The fact that our holiday-music stream was called "Jingle Jams" is still the source of tension around the office.) (Mostly because I refuse to let it go.)

Aaaaanyway, we just kicked off yet another new initiative: a 100-song continuous music mix highlighting some of our favorite artists who'll perform at the South by Southwest music festival next week. This involved a good deal of winnowing — picking through MP3s by roughly 1,100 of the bands scheduled to play — but actually resulted in a surprisingly useful listening experience. Whether or not you're attending the festival, the mix opens a nice portal into six and a half hours of music discovery.

After rejecting countless names — "Songs We Could Stand"! "Bands in Bulk"! "South by SouthBEST"! — we finally settled on "The Austin 100." I like to think it captures the sheer size of the listening experience, while also hinting at another feature of SXSW: The whole thing feels a little bit like a race, an attempt to fit as many experiences as possible into an all-too-brief window.

So, whether you're attending SXSW or listening from home, I dearly hope you listen to The Austin 100 — and feel free to add your comments, recommendations and favorites below. What do you want to hear at SXSW this year?

[Click here to view the playlist, and here for NPR Music's full coverage of the festival.]

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