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sxsw, road to austin

Feb 10, 2016 08:00 AM

Jhoni Jackson

Expectations vs. Reality: 12 Lessons From SXSW Veterans for First-Time Performers

January May (image courtesy of the band)

Every week leading up to SXSW, we'll be sharing the exciting journeys of Sonicbids bands from all around the world in our 2016 Road to Austin series. Follow along to get insight on the planning and preparation that goes into it, a firsthand look at life on the road, tips from SXSW veterans, and much more. Join the conversation by using #RoadToAustin on social media – we'd love to hear from you!

Prepare all you want, but there's no avoiding an involuntary jaw drop upon arriving at SXSW for the first time. The mass of people, music blaring from all angles, the promotional pushing of trial-size beverages and branded tchotchke on every corner – it's all very overwhelming. And that's just the likely experience of an attendee. Performers have even more to contend with, from competing for listeners to figuring out how the hell to load in amid the chaos.

We asked bands who've been through it firsthand about their expectations, the reality of SXSW, and what they wish they'd known the first time around. The festival, although immensely awesome, can also be an unpredictable and unapologetic beast. These 12 tips will help you maximize its possilities instead of succumbing to its pitfalls.

sxsw, road to austin

Feb 3, 2016 06:00 AM

Jhoni Jackson

What’s Your Road to Austin? 3 DIY Bands Share How They’re Making the Most of Their Trip to SXSW

The Semi-Supervillains will be arriving by automobile, not watercraft. (Image courtesy of the band)

Welcome to our 2016 Road to Austin series! Every week leading up to SXSW, we'll be sharing the exciting journeys of Sonicbids bands from all around the world as they make their way to Austin. Follow along to get insight on the planning and preparation that goes into it, a firsthand look at life on the road, tips from SXSW veterans, and much more. Join the conversation by using #RoadToAustin on social media – we'd love to hear from you!

Most DIY bands headed to SXSW get there by car – or, more likely, a van packed to the gills with gear, merch, supplies, and bandmates. Kudos to anyone who endures the trip to Austin, especially those with treks in the thousands of miles. Even more praise, though, for those also stopping to play as many shows in as many cities as humanly possible on the way – and that's actually most of them.

The entire month of March – not just the week of SXSW – is primetime for independent bands. Leading up to the fest and coming back, everyone's playing shows everywhere. And music fans, music writers, booking agents, and everyone else in the industry seem to have their ears to the ground more actively than any other time of year – because, you know, it's basically one of the most magical for independent music.

What Does It Take to Play SXSW? The Kickback’s Journey to the Fest

The Kickback (Photo by David Burlacu)

You already know that having a SXSW showcase on your resume is pretty much essential if you want your band to be taken with any level of seriousness, but what does it actually take to get there? Not just the application process, but what does a band’s actual journey to the festival look like?

The Best Places to Busk in Austin, Texas

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Austin, TX, is known as the live music capital of the country with the most music venues per capita. With SXSW currently in full swing, the city has drawn thousands of local and major acts from across the world, as well as countless music lovers and industry representatives. It's not easy to get on an official SXSW showcase, though – with so many up-and-comers vying for a set, only a fraction of the bands that apply actually get to perform. So if your band didn't make it onto this year's lineup (or even if you did!), there are still plenty of other opportunities to have your music heard.

6 Steps to Networking Effectively at SXSW

Photo by Svein‑Magnus Sørensen

A version of this article originally appeared on the Green Light Go blog.


I've been to SXSW a lot. I mean, a lot. Like 20 of them to be exact. I've also seen a lot of changes over the years and discovered the best way to network that leads to long-term relationships and overall effectiveness. If you plan on attending SXSW this year and want to make the most of the experience, here are a few tips to get you started.