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Innovation, music and film meet this week at now powerhouse South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. More than 25-years-old, the once modest, regional music festival has become mandatory attendance for anyone seeking the next big thing.

Among SXSW conference breakouts were Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009. John Mayer and James Blunt found careers after early gigs here. "The Hurt Locker" had its U.S. debuted in 2009 and went on to win the Academy Award for Motion Picture of the Year.

This year's star discoveries are only now underway, but already Edward Snowden's appearance later today via videoconference and Lady Gaga's keynote address on Thursday are generating early buzz. Here's a snapshot of the festival's growth since it's first year.