CD Baby at SXSWThe CD Baby take on SXSW: Is it “worth it” for independent musicians? What were our favorite moments? Read on…

We sent a great little gang of our very own CD Babies to SXSW this year, and man: what a time they had.

Between our showcase, our panel discussions, our Portland Party, and getting to meet a ton of current (and future) CD Baby artists, it’s amazing that we remembered to bust out the camera to capture some of the memories.

But we did! And we’ve compiled a few of those moments in a video that’ll make you feel like you were right there in the action (see below).

Should indie acts go to SXSW? Is it worth the effort and expense?

Phil Bauer (CD Baby’s Director of Digital Distribution) says:

It’s absolutely worth attending and/or playing, but only if you approach it with a clear strategy. It’s not geared for the “let’s buy a ticket and see what happens” casual attendee, and simply securing a showcase doesn’t mean it will be worth the time, trip or money for an indie artist. 

It can be an important piece of the puzzle – a chance to be seen by an audience rich with fans and music industry professionals alike; but it’s also incredibly easy to be lost in the noise and chaos.  Making sure you’re playing the right showcase (not just a showcase), incorporating it with a tour, lining up a release and publicity to coincide around your appearance, or simply acknowledging you’re there to have a good time and play/watch some music can all be recipes for success.

Just showing up and hoping you’ll figure it out when you get there, or going cuz you landed a noon time slot at the [insert generic company name here] day party is not.

Ben Hubbird (CD Baby Digital Promotions) says:

If you have specific goals in mind, it can be a huge help to be there. For example, if you have a label ready to release your record, you have a publicist lined up, everything is in place, and just need to find the right booking agent, SXSW can be a great place. But you have to work really hard to actively meet people. Just showing up and playing shows and hoping people see you is not going to cut it.

Our favorite moments from SXSW 2015

Phil Bauer:

It was nice seeing such a strong artist turnout for panels involving video strategy and monetization. It’s clear that video (and YouTube) is a powerful engagement tool for artists to build an audience with, and it’ll continue to be a massive part of the conversation for indie musicians in the coming years.  It’s encouraging to see the interest there is starting to line up with the size of the opportunity.

Ben Hubbird:

Our official showcase was obviously the biggest highlight. Getting to hang out with some of my favorite artists, having them meet each-other, etc. I’ll never get tired of putting together a really incredible lineup to showcase the amazing acts that are using CD Baby to get their music out to the world.

Other than our showcase, seeing Diarrhea Planet & JEFF the Brotherhood tear the place apart on the patio at Swan Dive was probably the highlight for me. Infinity Cat has long been one of my favorite labels, and it’s awesome to see them killing it.

Moderating a panel with three of the brightest minds in the music industry (Andrew Jervis from Bandcamp, Benji Rogers from PledgeMusic, and Rachel Cragg from Nettwerk) was also a high point. And the Portland Party, which got rained on but not out, and proudly rocked the Grackle to it’s very foundations despite the downpour.

Tracy Maddux (CD Baby’s CEO):

I really enjoyed Summer Cannibals at the CD Baby Showcase. But I think the highlight of my week was the panel I did on Saturday afternoon (Be Your Own CEO, with  Dmitri Vietze of Rock Paper Scissors,  J. Gibson from Rumblefish,  James Leach from SESAC;  moderated by Jay Frank , CEO and Founder of Digsin). We started the panel by polling the standing room only crowd; about 90% were independent artists, the other 10% were labels and managers. It was a great opportunity to connect with indie artists and get into the nitty gritty of all the revenue streams that artists can now tap into themselves. We discussed publishing, neighboring rights, performing rights and microsync – revenue streams that are now unlocked for DIY artists and songwriters that weren’t necessarily so even a couple of years ago. At the end of the panel, it took me 45 minutes to get out of the convention center and off to the airport to catch my flight – there is a lot of interest in what we do!

Did you attend SXSW this year? What were your favorite moments? Was the trip “worth it?” Let us know in the comments below.

[hana-code-insert name=’touring-dont-miss’ /]

[hana-code-insert name=’youtube-make-more’ /]