SXSW 2018 kicks off in Austin today, and as one of the music industry's biggest festivals, making the most of it can be challenging, owing to the often overwhelming number of shows and industry events taking place. Here we look at some best practices to follow, whether you're a veteran attendee or going for the first time.
Guest post by Amy Lombardi of the TuneCore Blog
[Editors Note: This article was written by TuneCore’s Director of Entertainment Relations, Amy Lombardi.]
You’re heading to SXSW, one of the world’s largest music festivals and conferences. Well, whether you’re a veteran of South by, or taking your first trip to the Lone Star State, here are a few suggestions for making the most of the fun and festivities!
Bring It On and Pack It In!
Mid-March in Austin, TX is exactly when our weather turns from a lion into a lamb. Temperatures are unpredictable this time of year, and you can experience both cold rain and sweltering heat in a matter of minutes. To ensure your comfort in any scenario, bring a casual scarf along with a light jacket or hoodie, which should fit all easily into the tote bag you’ll also pack to tote around town. A few other items you could include for your bag could a pen, a Sharpee, sunglasses, sunscreen, an external battery pack for your cell and/or phone charger, and business cards. Yup, they’re still a thing!
SXSW encompasses Downtown Austin, the East Side and the area nicknamed SoCo, and with a couple extra hundred thousand people in town, traffic gets heavy. You can Lyft or Uber, Pedi cab, or rent a bike, but sometimes the fastest way around is walking. So, bring comfy shoes (maybe even something waterproof).
It’s true that beer flows freely around SXSW but with all the walking and talking you’ll be doing while going to shows and meeting new people, you’ll need to stay hydrated, too! Drink water whenever you can and grab the free ones when offered.
At most times during SXSW, there will be dozens events to choose from that offer something free: booze, food, swag, or water (see our advice on that, above). ‘Free’ could even just mean access to a real bathroom! The bag you’ll be carrying around will help you carry goodies back to where you’re staying, and complimentary snacks will help keep bridge the gap between actual meals. Grab what you need where you can get it and the leave the rest for the next fest goer!
“There’s a convention happening here, too?”
Yes! SXSW is compromised of hundreds of music showcases and parties around town featuring live music, and all the free stuff we covered, but the Austin Convention Center is Festival HQ. Stop in to recharge your electronics at charging stations and your body with snack and beverages. Walk around the ground level of the Convention Center (open to all) to engage with art installations set up for networking (one year there were thousands of Legos) or stop by a photobooth where you can snap and share a pic of your Southby adventure!
Pleased To Meet Me…
Because of the sheer number of professionals concentrated in one city, SXSW presents excellent opportunities to network and meet peers and pros in the music industry. Keep in mind that while the fest seems like a great hang, there’s a lot of business getting done! Because of this, most folks have little time for lengthy conversation.
If you connect with someone in a role which could help your band get a leg up, keep the conversation brief, exchange cards (still a thing), write yourself a note (about the conversation or what they looked like to help you remember once you return home) and let the person move along.
Once you’re back home and caught up on sleep, you’ll be grateful for the clear notes you jotted down on all the business cards you traded. Start plugging your new contacts into a database or spreadsheet, and email the people you met to reconnect. It’s helpful to reference how or where you met, or the interesting conversation you had. Best practice is to send an email and reconnect before sending a text or add your new contact to your mailing list.
Now you’re ready for good times and a productive week at SXSW. And no worries if you forget your sunglasses, they’re usually free ones readily available!