“After careful consideration of our offerings we are revising our sponsorship model.” SXSW festival drops US Army and weapons manufacturers as sponsors for 2025

SXSW 2024
(Image credit: Gary Miller/Getty Images)

SXSW, the celebrated music, film and tech festival celebrating emerging talent, has announced that the US Army and aerospace/defense company RTX Corporation will not be among the sponsors for next year's staging of the festival.

Earlier this year, a significant number of musical artists - including US hardcore bands Scowl and Gel, Brighton punks Lambrini Girls and every Irish artist playing official showcases - withdrew from the South By Southwest event due to the US military and weapons manufacturers being key sponsors of the festival, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Announcing their intention to boycott the event, in solidarity with the people of Palestine, Belfast hip-hop trio Kneecap stated at the time that their decision was taken to “highlight the unacceptable deep links the festival has to weapons companies and the U.S. military who at this very moment are enabling a genocide and famine against a trapped population.”

At the time, the festival organisers issued a statement saying, “We are an organisation that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech.”

SXSW added: “The defence industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives.”

Meanwhile, Texas governor Greg Abbott posted on X: “Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army Sponsorship. Bye. Don’t come back. Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

Now it seems that, for 2025 at least, bands won't have to sacrifice their principles in order to participate.

“After careful consideration of our offerings, we are revising our sponsorship model,” SXSW stated today, June 26. “As a result, the US Army, and companies who engage in weapons manufacturing, will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025.”

Next year’s SXSW will take place from March 7 to March 15

The festival, which has been staged in Austin since 1987, will take over east London for a week in June 2025 for its first ever European staging.

In a press release announcing the event, organisers say that SXSW London will “bring its own distinctive personality, driven by London’s internationally renowned cultural life and creativity, its status as a global meeting place, and its proximity to other major creative and tech centres in Europe.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.