How to Get Into SXSW
August 6, 2012
Simon Tam in Live Music, SXSW, shows

A while I ago, I wrote an article called “How to Book SXSW and Is It Worth It?”

Now that the application window for SXSW is open again, I think it’s time to revisit some of these concepts. First of all, if you read the previous article, you’ll know that I spend a lot of time discussing the appropriateness of your act applying for the festival. The committee that reviews applications looks at multiple factors to see if you are at an industry level worthy of the event. If not, you’ll be rejected fairly early in the process. If you are ready though, here’s what you can do to prepare:

This advice is from someone who has not only played SXSW (my band headlined a showcase there and played several industry parties over the years), but who has talked directly with members of the SXSW committee about the process itself.

SXSW can be great for bragging rights and industry exposure but you should understand that despite the hype, it isn’t for everyone. With over 1,500 official showcasing acts and nearly 3,000 other artists showcasing concurrently, the odds are against you if you’re hoping to walk away with a major record label deal or a new top level manager. What you will learn, however, is that the the artists who stand out and have a unique niche stand out more than anyone else. That’s true on tour, during the application process for SXSW, and especially true at the festival itself.


Simon Tam is owner of Last Stop Booking and author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam 

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (
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