How Lyft is supporting the Austin music scene with free rides

Ride-sharing app Lyft is using its sponsorship of SXSW as the official partner of the festival to heighten its support of local music in the city.

The company has supported the festival, which started as, and continues to be, a major music festival through a number of initiatives for the duration of SXSW.

This has included Lyft House, a branded pit stop area for drivers to relax, eat, drink and play computer games when in need of a rest from the slow traffic that is caused by festival congestion.

“We elevate each other’s brands,” said Aaron Fox, Lyft’s general manager, for Austin. “SXSW has always been about discovery and exploration which is what our driver drive towards, they are driving to support their dreams. For us, operationally it’s our biggest week of the year at three time the normal earnings for drivers, and then locally it’s an opportunity. Austin is the live capital of music and locally we are doing a lot to support the music scene here and that is an opportunity to elevate those partnerships.”

Those partnerships include work with the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) which is the round up and donate partner and the second is the Musician Rideshare programme, which sees Lyft work with local venues to provide free rides to local musicians to make it easy for them to get to gigs and not worry about parking issues.

“It’s a great way for us to support the music scene here,” said Fox of the opportunity to build the reputation of the business in the city which has seen the return of arch rival Uber in recent months.

“The venues book the musicians. We work with the venues who have the conversation with the artist to help them perform by providing them with Lyft credit to take a ride to-and-from the show. From a brand effect, I would leave it to the community to decide if it is something that is great or not. The Lyft team in Austin is proud to be able to support the music community in this way,” he added.

The initiative began with one week of free Lyft rides being given from 1 January and will run indefinitely, Fox added.

“Music is important to the identity of the city and a lot of our drivers are musicians and this is a great way to pull everything together between Austin, Lyft and the music scene here.”

Another element of the sponsorship of the festival will include the Lyft VW Van and a branded guitar sculpture placed at the airport to greet visitors. The sculpture was produced locally by IonArt.

A number of music-themed meet ups and activities will also take place at Lyft House too.

Follow The Drum’s daily coverage of the talks and goings on at this year’s SXSW.