Mar 22

SXSW Music: After Our Ears Stopped Ringing

SXSW Music

The unmistakable sound of eight poorly-shaven indie bands sound checking kick drums has finally ceased, which can only mean SXSW Music has come and gone.

After five days and counting of accumulating artist interviews, live concert footage and b-roll on behalf of one of our biggest clients, I’d like to think I’ve gained some perspective on how to work the music portion of SXSW. The security guard at Stubb’s who laughed at me when I asked if they had a free show might beg to differ, but that’s just her opinion, you know?

Anyhow, here a couple of findings from my first SXSW music week (I’d call them insights but that would be stretching it):

  • Twitter is the chosen method of communication for disseminating secret shows and special guest performers. As a result, the huge number of people tweeting, texting, acebooking and videotaping during concerts is not a sad commentary on our generation missing the beauty surrounding us, but rather an opportunity. It is easier than ever to connect with influencers online, so keeping your community informed in real-time is a necessity. And, of course, using the SXSW hashtag is a quick way to join and follow the conversation.
  • Several artists we met with stressed the importance of connecting with their fans through online channels and the challenge of staying relevant in a changing music landscape. This is an important piece of advice for brands to think about also. The same way artists try to reinvent themselves and evolve over a career, brands should constantly be trying to innovate and come up with new ways of providing for their customers
  • Everyone is in town to for largely the same reason and that’s to make some worthwhile connections and get exposure for their brands. Tweet at every blogger you know going down there, walk into random showcases and if you don’t have a badge, act like you belong everywhere.
  • I learned quickly that almost everyone in town is either trying to promote their band, label, company, startup business or respective crew— which is to say, if you come to SXSW, bring a lot of business cards. You never know whom you might run into (In our case, it was Def Jam CEO Lyor Cohen). #humblebrag
  • A friend of mine from Austin, with one year of SXSW experience under her belt, wisely suggested not wasting my time chasing unicorns i.e. worrying about whether there’s is something better happening a block away. There’s too much going on to see everything so try to enjoy the free time you do have instead of worrying about whether Springsteen played “Rosalita” as an encore.
  • If you have with nothing in common with the average rapper, compliment them on their shoes.

On that note, you should be good to go for next year. Book your hotel now!