Eddy Cue talks iTunes Festival in SXSW interview

iTunes Festival (teaser 002)

Apple’s iTunes Festival kicked off last night at the Moody Theater in Austin, TX. The 5-day concert is the company’s first in the United States, and is headlining South by Southwest—a set of film, tech and music festivals—this week.

As we noted this morning, Apple’s SVP of Internet software and services Eddy Cue was on hand for last night’s show, and reporter Jim Dalrymple was able to sit down with him. The two talked about iTunes Festival, SXSW and more…

Dalrymple, well-known for his one-word rumor confirming/debunking posts over at The Loop, spoke with Cue on behalf of CNN’s Fortune. And the first topic of discussion was why it took Apple so long to host iTunes Festival in the US.

“Before the concert I had a rare opportunity to sit with Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President for Internet Software and Services, and ask him what took so long.

“I wasn’t sure we would ever bring it to the U.S.,”  Cue said. “We have something so special at the festival in London that you had the feeling that if you did it anywhere else, it just wasn’t going to be quite good enough. You have to have the right place. The combination of Austin, which has a culture of music, and this venue is fantastic — it’s made for music.”

Cue went on to say that the Festival isn’t for pitching products, it’s about the “emotion of the artists and the fans.” There’s a reason why Apple holds the concert in a venue that only seats 2,750 people. These artists usually sell-out stadiums.

Dalrymple, who has been to a few of Apple’s iTunes Festivals now, agrees that there is something special about the event. “It makes for an unusually intimate experience for both the fans and the musicians.” Even artists like to hang around.

“Case in point: A few minutes after Imagine Dragons finished their incredible set, they came back to sit down in the balcony to watch Coldplay. That’s one of the things that makes the iTunes Festival so unusual. It’s not just fans appreciating artists, it’s artists appreciating artists. You don’t always see that.”

And it’s not all just for concert-goers. Apple live streams the performances from iTunes Festival around the world, for free, through its Macs and iOS devices. You can find the iOS app here, and Apple TV users will see the app in their main menu.

The Festival continues tonight with Isaiah Rashad Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar.