Lost in Music, Westworld, and Ready Player One stage epic SXSW activations

When it comes to SXSW activations, what’s standing out is either laid back and authentic or wholly epic—the middle ground isn’t resonating as strongly. These companies are embracing the epic approach, reflecting our finding from The Entertainers than 63% of Millennials want brands to give them a cool experience over a cool product. 


In an immersive take on a listening party, Lost in Music is returning to SXSW to showcase Sony Music artists from a wide range of genres for its unique concert experience set in a surreal ‘Dreamscape.’ Using 576 speakers controlled by Sony’s sound field synthesis technology, the experience is designed to envelope visitors in dynamic sound as they walk through an entrance tunnel called the Acoustic Vessel Odyssey. Headliners for the event include like Khalid, who will debut his new VR music video for “Young Dumb & Broke,” which was specially created as part of Sony’s Lost In Music campaign for PlayStation VR.


HBO is known for its extravagant activations, and this year it outdid itself with its “Live Without Limits” experience—so good that even Elon Musk paid a visit. After registering for an appointment at DiscoverWestworld.com, guests were shuttled to a location outside of Austin to visit a fully immersive, functional version of Sweetwater, the town at the center of the Westworld theme park. Guests were assigned a black or white hat upon arrival and set loose to explore the park sans instructions, interacting with dozens of hosts across a variety of narratives while hunting for clues about what’s in store for season two. HBO also offered Westworld-themed Lyft rides and an invite-only Westworld flight from LA to Austin in partnership with Delta to celebrate the upcoming season.


To bring to life Stephen Spielberg’s adaption of Ready Player One, Warner Bros. partnered with Giant Spoon to create an immersive adventure that mimicked a futuristic realm from the story. Attendees step into the world through a dazzling light tunnel meant to simulate what it’s like for the characters to enter the Oasis. From there, attendees step into a separate space inspired by the story to find arcade games and ’80s memorabilia like a Back to the Future DeLorean. Per Adweek, the companies also worked with HTC Vive to create a VR experience for attendees where they can fly and listen to ’80s music.