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This year he’s even more visible at South by Southwest with eight shows, including a performance slot on MTV’s Woodie Awards, as he prepares to release his major-label debut in September. The ride has been interesting and the buzz palpable.

“I’ve definitely felt it over the years,” Mr. Clark said. “It’s pretty cool.”

It’s that kind of cool that stars and advertisers seek when they come to Austin, and their presence has changed things for both good and ill, longtime visitors say.

Charles Aaron, SPIN’s editorial director, said he believes the new acts are getting lost in the busy shuffle that SXSW has become in recent years: “I think when the Internet happened it just went completely kaplooie, and then after that it was like you couldn’t move anywhere. It was just like a giant mob scene.”

He also said he thinks the conference is simply more interesting these days because of the diversity that evolution has brought with it.

R&B hit maker The-Dream will appear at a showcase with pop legend Lionel Richie, whose upcoming album explores his country music roots. Juanes will speak and leads a contingent of Latin performers, while showcases will be held for African, Asian, Australian and British performers.

“I think the main thing about South by Southwest now is there’s so much variety,” said Mr. Aaron, who has attended the conference off and on for 20 years. “It’s not like an indie rock festival or even a major label rock festival. It’s got every genre represented in large part, and that’s kind of more the experience now for me.”