How To Make The Most Of Your #SXSW Shows

2Getting any attention at somewhere as busy and crowded as SXSW can be a challenge, fortunately (and just in time for the event itself) Jeff Kilgour has some helpful advice on how to make the most of your appearance there.


Guest Post from PledgeMusic

The Wild West feel of another SXSW can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming, exhilarating and confusing. Fortunately Jeff Kilgour, VP of PR & Artist Development at The Syndicate, is here to help with some timely advice and practical tips for the many artists scheduled to play Austin this March.


SXSW can seem like a wild west of sorts with so much going on and so many different approaches. For bands preparing to head to Austin for the first time, do you have any advice of best practices before they arrive?

Be prepared! Have your 25-minute set tight and rehearsed. Make sure your band name can be seen on an item of equipment (flag on amp or keys, light across the floor on stage, etc). Kick drum head won’t do because you’ll likely not be using your own kit. Say your band name every other song too, because people are always coming in and out. I always advise on making sure you have a killer cover in your set. It opens the door of familiarity and allows you to show your style and also connect with those who don’t know your music. Choose the cover wisely.

Do you believe playing as much as possible is the best approach? Select appearances?

This is a tough one and really depends on where you are in your career. If it’s your first time going down, take a shot and play as many gigs as you can, but don’t overwhelm yourself so that your singer is hoarse by Friday afternoon. But don’t brush off a day party just because it isn’t some hip blog in a cool venue. I’ve seen bands play for three people in the middle of nowhere and two of those people were European festival bookers.

Any advice for leveraging SXSW appearances once you’re there?

Don’t think about leveraging, because honestly, once you’re there and in the thick of it, you don’t have much leverage. There are almost 3,000 other bands there as well. Have fun and play your music. That’s why you’re doing this. Bands can get so caught up in everyone’s opinions and advice that you lose sight of the music. You’re an artist and in this profession because it’s the only way you can live your life.

You’re going into one of the most chaotic experiences you’ll ever deal with and the only way you’re coming out is by embracing it and enjoying every moment. Because in 10 years, if you’re not headlining Stubb’s on Thursday night, you’ll sure as hell wish you enjoyed the moment while you were living it.

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