Four seasoned music industry executives recently revealed their tips and tactics for turning a giant party full of noisy people into a workable environment for conducting business. While still having some fun, of course. Billboard.biz's Reggie Ugwu interviewed Michael Goldstone of Mom + Pop Music, Madeleine Bennett of Mtheory, Def Jam's Sickamore and Tom Windish of The Windish Agency. The answers show that part of having a great experience is recognizing that SXSW is changing.
SXSW Executive Tips & Tactics
"You have to have a certain level of flexibility down there and soak up the environment and enjoy it rather than trying to see every possible unsigned artist or every show that all of your bands are playing."
"If there are 3 or 4 things happening at a given time, it might be best to just stay where you are if you’re hanging with people that you want to spend time with or having a conversation with someone you don’t really know."
Michael "Goldie" Goldstone, Founder, Mom + Pop Music
"The priority for me is spending as much as time as possible with my clients and see them in as many different events as I can....I tend to start a little bit later so I can stay around for the hang at 3 or 4 a.m."
"I shared a pedicab last year with [DJ-producer] Skream on the way to the Illmore -- people are so jammed together you can’t help but form good connections down there."
Madeleine Bennett, Marketing Director, Mtheory
"I’m not gonna lie, this year I’m not going in expecting much. People like Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga going down there kind of defeats the purpose of what it’s all about. It used to be about the counter culture, but now it’s all about who can get the biggest sponsor."
"But there are still a couple of scenes that I’m excited about. I think Fader does a great job with the Fader Fort and the Illmore house is always amazing."
Sickamore, A&R, Def Jam
"Friday afternoon this year we have our big event at Mohawk with Vans...Partnering with Vans has been good for us because the cost of producing events at South By has increased over the years. It used to be that you could put things on for little or no money, but now there are a lot of people with deep pockets and the price has gone up."
"One year we did eight events at South By, and then we pulled that back to two. This year we’re doing just one. My philosophy is that I want the event to be as crowded as possible. I want to turn people away; for it to be something that people really want to get into."
Tom Windish, Founder/President, The Windish Agency
SXSW is getting bigger, more expensive and increasingly noisy and that seems to have increased interest in smaller, more intimate events and direct connections.
Even Sickamore, who raised some valid concerns about SXSW's growth, speaks to the opportunity to connect more directly with people in a personal way despite the growing noise of big stars and big brands.
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