Denver band Dragondeer performs at the 2014 Colorado Music Party showcase during the South By Southwest music festival.

(Photo: CPR/Dave Fender)

The blending of bands and brands continues to fuel South By Southwest.

The Austin-based music festival is considered the industry's top event in the country, attracting thousands of bands and tens of thousands of music fans and professionals. As a result, companies and organizations see it as a major opportunity to cash in.

Last year, Doritos grabbed headlines with its interactive stage resembling a massive vending machine. This year, McDonald’s plans to have its own showcase. And the corporation’s effort is sparking conversation, but not because of its stage design.

Gawker reports that McDonald's is courting bands to perform but stopping short of paying them. The site points to a Facebook post penned by Brian Harding of the band Ex Cops, which received an invite to play from the fast food behemoth.

Getting past that rhetoric, at the very least a big corporation like McDonald's can at least pay their talent a little. Right?

"There isn't a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately)"

At the same time, the Austin Business Journal reports that some big brands like Doritos will be absent from SXSW this year.

... in part because of concerns about increased scrutiny by city officials on large outdoor events.

In interviews with the Austin Business Journal, several events professionals said they've seen a decline in business for this year's festival compared to recent years, with glitzy and expensive activations harder to come by.

More than 120 Colorado bands will head to Austin later this month as part of the expanded Colorado Music Party at SXSW.

Organizer Dani Grant will discuss the five-day event during CPR's Colorado Matters on March 12.