The SXSW Post-Mortem: Is it Worth Going Next Year?

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SXSW Post MortemTell us your thoughts on the SXSW experience

Now that the dust has settled for most of you (though some bands may still be touring their way home), what did all you South By Southwest attendees think of the festival this year?

What did you expect to get out of going to Austin? Did it happen for you?

What were the highlights, the hi-jinx, the hiccups?

How many showcases do you have to play to make it worth the trip?

Should bands who are serious about their music careers plan to make SXSW a focal point of next year’s calendar, or has it become an over-bloated boondoggle?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • I've never been to SXSW. I would love to go next year. I look forward to the feedback from attendees to see if is worth the time, effort and money.

  • Brett

    I've only played there once back in 2009. For me it was worth it, but not because it helped my band. We played 4 showcases in 3 days. The shows were great! We were able gain some exposure through the whole thing. Nothing major. I loved walking up and down 6th street and getting to have these days filled with playing music, drinking beer, eating great food, listening to other great bands from all over the place, and meeting tons of like-minded musicians. Had I gone out there with the intention of networking it would not have been worth it, but since I went out there with a more laid back approach and no expectations it was one of the best experiences of my life. I also only had to pay for my plane ticket and food. Lodging and transportation in Austin were provided for me which made a huge difference.

    • Tough to say no to SXSW if your lodging and transportation costs are covered. Will you go back?

      @ChrisRobley

      • Brett

        I would love to. I would love to share that experience with the guys in my current band. We’ll see if it’s in the cards. I wonder if it’s different now. I’ll check back later to see if more current stories are told.

  • Martha Johnson

    This year’s SXSW was my first time and I decided to go late in the day so I only had one showcase at Friends Bar on 6th St. I have a solo album being released in June so I thought this would be a good way to get things rolling. It was a big expense for 20 minutes on stage but I had fun and it gave me some interesting content for my Pledge Music campaign. Even though I played 5 new songs, the audience still love ‘Echo Beach’ the most. I think there were quite a few artists like me from the old guard. I heard The Zombies were great. Everybody is a somebody at SXSW. I’m glad I went but it remains to be seen what impact being there will have. Austin is a fabulous city and the people I met were so friendly.

  • Glad it was fun. Write us back and let us know if anything else good comes from SXSW.

    @ChrisRobley

  • I live in Austin so except for the frustration of parking it wasn't too much of a chore.

    I played a couple of unofficial not-SXSW parties.
    The whole SXSW experience is cool as long as you view it as a party and not necessarily as "leg up" for your music.

    I did feel kind of bad for the bands who paid to be involved in the official showcases, that came and stayed on their own nickle, and wound up going head to head with some of the free shows like Richard Thompson and Emmy Lou Harris.

    Since I have no plans to move from Austin, I'm sure I'll go again next year and probly play a couple of not-SXSW parties.

    Billy Eli
    Austin Texas

    • Hey Billy,

      Thanks. Might as well stay involved if you live there. And damn, I wouldn't want to be playing down the street from a free Richard Thompson concert.

      @ChrisRobley

  • geofferson US fan

    This is a really good upcoming young band from Saratov, Russia! http://youtu.be/rujIgf_0ey0

  • I was one of 6 CD Baby folks down there this year, perhaps our largest contingent ever. We organized a day party with our homies at Rumblefish at a great dive bar on 6th called Darwin's Pub. Did we see you there? Black Lillies, Seryn, Chaos Chaos, and MC Frontalot all performed, The Burning Ear played records, we ate amazing empanadas and we all had a blast.

    We also organized a terrific showcase at Maggie Mae's with Gregory Alan Isakov, Shoes, The Shivers, The Wilderness of Manitoba, Letting up Despite Great Faults, and Wildlife Control.

    It was great to have a chance to help get our artists a bit of exposure, be able to invite reps from the digital retailers we work with to come and check out some of the incredible talent releasing their music with CD Baby.

    More importantly, though, I get to meet the artists, managers, promoters, label reps, publicists, etc that I email with all year long. Sitting down for tacos with someone, even just once a year, can mean a huge difference in the quality of communication when you're back in the office.

    As far as "networking" … uggghhhh. I just like to look for opportunities to introduce people who might not have met before. It's partly a karmic investment — I sure hope others do the same and introduce me to people I should know. But also I kind of hate the concept of "networking" while also recognizing the importance of building networks.

    Anyways, if you're going to be down there next year, stay in touch. We should get tacos.

  • My band went this year. We went with only 1 unofficial showcase booked. I was worried that it would be a waste. This was our 2nd time going to sxsw so we were more comfortable and knew what to expect. We ended up performing a total of 5 showcases because of networking! The shows were great but unknown bands like us are competing with bigger names performing for free. It's kinda hard and that keeps me from wanting to go again. I mean how are we supposed to compete?! I thought sxsw was about discovering new music and then you have The Foo Fighters and Prince performing! If it lands in the middle of a tour I'd do it, but just to go to play some showcases (unless they are bigger ones… Whatever that means), I don't think I will. I did appreciate the CD Baby party though! We were starving and the empanadas were great! Thanks for taking care of the "small bands"
    -Art Padilla
    Hero's Last Mission

  • Charles Ellsworth

    Being from Utah, and Texas being as massive as it is I made my SXSW trip into a tour. I only ended up playing 2 SXSW showcases, but I was able to get another house show in Austin, a couple shows in Houston, and played Colorado and Oklahoma. I think it ended up being a total of 13 shows in 9 days.

    I'll definitely try to make it down again, but not just for a chance to party at SXSW or play one showcase. I always try to make the most of my travel time by playing as many shows as possible, whether it's morning shows at coffee shops and evening shows at bars, the more time you get to spend on stage and sharing music with people, the better.