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The Indie Maximum 100 Goes To Texas ...Industry Experts & Musicians Dish Out Their Best SXSW Tips

As a follow up to last week’s The SXSW Survival Guide, I’ve decided to take some of the best tips from some of the experts of today’s music industry and provide them for you here! I took the time to talk to some of the contributors from our 2009 Indie Maximum Exposure list to see what they had to say.

Over the next several days, I will be posting all-new tips that you can use to maximize your South by Southwest experience.

This advice is divided up into 3 sections

  1. Before You Go
  2. While You Are There
  3. After You Get Home

There are not 100 here but they are some great gems…


Read “How to Talk to Anyone” A Week Ahead
So, the week before the conference, read “How to Talk to Anyone” or any book about how to be a great listener. Then, use the conference as your testing ground for your new listening skills. Get extremely interested in those around you. Think like an investigative reporter. Ask follow-up questions about how they got into that. What they love and hate about it. Ask why they came to the conference. Talk about non-work-stuff, too!  Be very curious about their unique perspective. Learn from it.
- Derek Sivers

Envision What You Want Before You Arrive
My first bit of advice: Arrive prepared. Know where will be attending and create some goals before you get there.
- Ariel Hyatt

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 and equipment were at one time expensive, 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 conferences are a relaxed environment to connect with people in the industry who can change the course of your career.

Austin, Texas is a wonderful city, and its distractions are many. Keep in mind that this is not a vacation. It’s a work-related learning experience. With a little planning and foresight, you can have a million-dollar conference.
- Ariel Hyatt

Before You Go, Get Connected!
Here are the SXSW Social Media Links:
- Ariel Hyatt

Use my.SXSW
This online schedule-builder has helped me build some structure within the madness. my.SXSW helps to spot conflicts ahead of time so you can make some informed decisions. So, if there’s a band playing at the same time a lecture is occurring, you’ll be able to see what other times that band is playing. Most bands perform a few times during the week, so you’ll probably have more than one opportunity to catch your favorites and still learn something from the seminars that most interest you.
- Derek Nicoletto

Don’t Worry if You Are Not Playing
Rockin’ SXSW includes pre-planning and finding out who is attending whom I
know or want to know better. With the pressure off, by attending as a non-performer, I can concentrate on meeting people and getting to know peopleI have met a bit better.
- Jennie Walker

Order Download Cards… Better Than Business Cards
Why just hand someone your info when you can hand them free music? It’s not like they’re going to listen to a CD you give them right on the spot anyway, they’re going to have to get back to their laptop before they hear your stuff. Give them a download card and you can carry 500 copies in one light jacket. Try doing that with jewel cases sometime.
- Matthew Ebel

Create A SXSW Survival Kit
My SXSW survival kit includes brand new memorable business cards, which include my photo, artist logo, website site address and twitter account. New artist photos with my logo embedded and inexpensive promo CD’s that are all information and sound with memorable image. While I have official press kits handy, I only give them out if asked. I focus on meeting people, listening, and exchanging business cards.
- Jennie Walker

For Bands: Rent A House, Not A Hotel
Overall, it was much cheaper to bring a full band and sit them in one place, especially since there are no hidden fees or services charges. Leading a band can be a bit like babysitting, so it was super helpful to have everyone in one place (the impromptu acoustic rehearsals and tomfoolery were invaluable). There are last minute cancellations, so check with my favorite house rental site,
- Derek Nicoletto

Try Coupons
I use coupon cards for so the recipient gets a free month of my subscription service. If they want to hear what I do, they’ll try it out. If not, I’m not wasting a $3 piece of round plastic that they’re just going to throw away or eBay later.
-  Matthew Ebel

Don’t Go To SXSW To Be Discovered
I don’t go to SXSW to be discovered, get a record deal, and become rich and famous. I go to get inspired, energized and reinvigorated about music and the music biz. I look at SXSW as a great big music industry family reunion; a chance to see all of my friends from around the country all in the same place at the same time. For that reason, I limit myself to a handful of meetings, and showcases I must see, and leave the rest to chance and happenstance. I bounce around like a pinball from place to place, party to party. Try to keep my cell phone charged and follow my instincts. Despite what most people say, you can survive off shiner bock and pizza.
- Jason Walsmith

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