By this point you’ve probably seen about 38 lists of the best bands to check out at SXSW… and you aren’t on any of them. And you’ve read 37 opinion pieces about the conference and why it sucks to go… and you made plans months ago to be down there. Well, all is not lost - you can still get something out of the behemoth known as SXSW.
Don’t just hang out with your friends; plan to see bands you don’t know. We’re big fans of making a plan here (if you haven’t noticed), so it’s no surprise that we’re saying a little pre-planning here can go a long way. SXSW is overwhelming and exhausting, so it’s easy to want to cocoon yourself into your little nest of friends. All I’m asking is that you make an effort to go see a few bands of similar size/genre. One of the main points of SX is to make new connections and saying hello to a band after a great set is a good start. Also, I want to see Ryan Adams as much as the next gal, but I’m not going to fill my schedule up with people that can already fill theaters. There are plenty of people I would love our artists to play with, so I'm going to see those people.
Pick a few relevant panels to go to. I know you feel lame going to listen to people talk, but these things aren’t just for folks on the business side! Most of the panelist are super accessible after they speak, so this might be a great time to say hi to someone you’ve been wanting to get intro’d to. Plus, there’s a reason a lot of the people are speaking -- they’ve got some great info to share (PS - go see Ron speak on a panel on Thursday, 3/17 -- “Transforming online popularity to offline success”)
Fill your schedule, but try to have some time off. Running around like a crazy person is part of SX, but there is something to be said for just grabbing a beer with a friend (old or new) and taking a break from the madness.
Go to the flat stock exhibition. I can’t say it enough - this is so cool. You know all of those rad tour posters you are jealous that you don’t have? Tons of those designers showcase here. Go see them and grab their cards! Maybe you can BE one of those people with a rad tour poster next time.
Understand that your showcase is more than likely going to sound like crap. Newsflash - unless you are in a real music venue (and sometimes even if you are) you’re going to deal with less than stellar sound. And you can’t do much about it. You’ll get a line check and you won’t be able to hear yourself 90% of the time. Don’t stress - just do your best and realize that everyone is in the same boat as you are. Those crazy business people understand also.
Get the free shit. If all else fails, make sure to get all of the free swag they’re giving out. If you don’t get the Jansport backpack, did you really go to SX? Last year, the showcase I threw gave away free BBQ sandwiches & beard products (recap: The Brooklyn Basement). Fill that free tote bag up with crap you probably don’t need, but will make you feel a little bit better about making the trek down.
Bottom line - have fun, don’t stress yourself out too much, and try to make some new friends. Happy SXSW, everyone! Whether you like it or not, it’s hereeeeee!
REASON TO IGNORE THIS ADVICE: You are Ryan Adams.
What am I reading? Advice by the Slice is a weekly blog giving independent/growing artists small pieces of advice throughout the year. Through growing Ron Pope’s career from baby-sized part time gig to (what most consider) a successful independent full-time thing with millions of streams, sold out tours, and living as a mostly full grown adult, we get questions all the time about how to “make it.” Full disclosure: We are not experts and there is no formula. However, these are things we’ve tried along the way and have proven to be positive for an artist. Why one piece weekly? Well, we often feel like throwing a whole lot of advice/opinions at someone makes them want to crawl in a hole and say goodbye to the music industry forever, so this feels a little more manageable. Also, by the slice pizza joints are the best spots on earth, so this is also our tribute to those guys. So, here’s to a year’s worth of tricks to try and slices of pie. Cheers! Check out the first post here.
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