I can not believe that March is upon us that means only one thing… It’s SXSW time again! Undoubtedly it will be just as full-on as last year with over 100,000 attendees expected to flood the venues and streets of Austin downing (free) Dixie and (free) BBQ and soaking up the music and the mayhem….
If you are packing your bags for Austin Here are my tips for you (This guide is not just for SXSW; it’s also for any music conference out there!)
Envision What You Want Before You Arrive
My first bit of advice: Arrive prepared. Know who will be attending and create some goals before you get there.
Attend at Least One Music Conference Each Year
I believe all serious musicians should make it part of their job to attend at least one conference a year. They can be expensive to get to, but think abut it this way: Music lessons were at one time expensive, and so was your equipment and those things are also vital for your career. Conferences are the best place to meet people who work in and around the music industry and are a relaxed environment to connect with people in it who can change the course of your career.
Austin, Texas, a wonderful city, and its distractions are many. But, keep in mind that this is not a vacation. It’s a work-related learning experience, and with a little planning and foresight you can have a million-dollar conference.
Before You Go, Get Connected!
SXSW Social Media:
Get registered to the South by Southwest Directory
Go through the site, which is VERY user friendly and links to your Twitter and Facebook seamlessly to determine whom you may want to meet before you arrive. Drop them a personal e-mail using their interface.
Bring Business Cards, Fizzkicks Cards & Postcards
Yes, You should have a business card and your card should not just have your name and number. It should have good information about what you or your band sounds like (your pitch) , your Twitter handle, Myspace & Facebook URLS, and links to any other places people might be able to find you online. A photo of you or a band logo would also be highly recommended.
Don’t Haul A Ton Of CDs
I do not recommend bringing a lot of CDs. People are overwhelmed with free CDs and they won’t want to carry them home so it’s better to get people’s business cards and mail them a CD or better yet send your music digitally through Bandcamp of Soundcloud as a follow-up after you get home.
Talk To Strangers
Don’t be scared to take risks and meet people. Conferences are friendly places. Just walk right up and ask “So, what brings you here?” You’ll have a new BFF in no time.
Attend Panels – You Will Learn Something J
It’s tempting to blow the panels off and hit all of the free day parties but I encourage you to make an effort to sit in on at least one or two panels per day, on any topic that interests you, and take notes.
Most conferences have amazing mentoring sessions where you can sign up to have one-on-one face time with the industry peeps. Some of the most important people in the music business will be sitting there ready to meet with you.
When you do go to a one-on-one mentoring panel, be prepared to meet these people, and make sure that you have done your research and have specific questions to ask them.
The moment you get home, make sure to send thank you notes, e-mails and follow up with every single person that you met. If appropriate, add them to your e-mail list. Never send your pitch or talk about business in the first initial e-mail. Get people to respond to your follow up by just being friendly. If you do not follow up your trip and hard work will have been a waste of your time. So, don’t rip yourself off here!
Please add your own tips or tricks here: