The Evolution of ACL
Examining the transformation of Austin City Limits Festival from 2002 to 2015
A Project By: Ben Slade

Genres at ACL


The first ACL was put together in only a few months. Organizers had to be resourceful and book bands that they had connections with. This meant the first years lineup was dominated by Americana, Country and Blues artists with the remaining portion being split by rock bands and funk/soul artists. In just five years the country/blues artists had decreased to only 17% and more than half of the line up was rock. For the mid years of the festival from 2005 to 2009 ACL was mostly a Rock fest with a touch of folk blues and country. The genres really reflected the styles most prevalent in the local music scene. Since 2009 the rock presence has been steadily decreasing and being replaced by hip-hop, electronic and pop music. As the festival has grown into a large international attraction the lineups have followed the trends in music around the world more so than in the local scene. Each year since 2009 the festival has featured at least one bilboard top 40 artist, Lorde, Lana Del Ray, the Weekend and Drake have all performed at the festival. The graph below shows these changes in detail, you can focus on certain genres or compare different genres by toggling them on and off in the legend on the right.


Where does the lineup come from?


When ACL started almost half of the artists were from Texas, and the other half from around the country. By the tenth year of the festival in 2012 the number of Texas artists had decreased to 10% and more than 30% of the artists were international artists coming from outside of the country to perform. As more international artists are booked, it draws more diverse crowds from around the world as well. Local Texas artists still have their 10% of the lineup, mostly performing early in the day and on the smaller stages, they have the chance to give a taste of Texas music to the international crowds that travel to attend ACl. The graph below compares the percentage of Texas artists and international artist appearing at the festival each year since 2002. You can also view two heat maps showing where the lineup was came from (within the U.S.) in 2002 and in 2015.


Compare the heat maps of the lineup from 2002 with the lineup from 2015