SXSW 2015: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Bands

Posted by Amy D'Aureli on Mar 2, 2015 11:00 AM

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Preparing for the unexpected is always a challenge, and when it comes to playing a music festival with close to 30,000 industry professionals in attendance and over 2,000 musical showcases, the devil is certainly in the details.

With SXSW 2015 just a few weeks away, now is a great time to go over all of your travel plans, show schedules, and festival guides, especially if you're performing at SXSW for the first time ever!

Take comfort (and take notes!) in these words of SXSW wisdom we've compiled from key festival contacts and SXSW veterans!

  1. "Get plenty of rest before you get to Austin because you will not get any while you're there." – Sean Falyon, Sonicbids artist and four-time SXSW performer
  2. "Take advantage of conference programming. There's lots to learn from industry vets and other important and informative figures." – Elliott Usrey, SXSW's technical coordinator
  3. "Bring a friend to wrangle your vehicle. You'll be loading into shows at the last minute and parking a mile away; you don't want to be sprinting across town to make set time." – Matt Parmenter, bass player for Sonicbids band Quiet Company, seven-time SXSW performer
  4. "Bring a hand truck. It makes carrying all your equipment six blocks between shows easier." – Dan Scheuerman of Deleted Scenes
  5. "Have a plan to sound good with one mic, no mics, no PA, vocals through a guitar amp, etc., so that you can play as many shows as possible and deal with the unexpected." – Andy Pruett of Quiet Hooves
  6. "Buy Airborne and use it...being sick at SXSW is the worst thing ever." – Sean Falyon
  7. "There's an artists' food tent near Sixth and Trinity where the burgers flow freely. If you want cheap local fare, head east on Cesar Chavez to Juan in a Million or grab a huge, delicious taco at Torchy's." – Matt Parmenter
  8. "Make sure that you get on the 'secret' wait lists for other shows. Many bands overbook and won't show up, so it's never a bad idea to get more shows than you came with. Always have another point of contact just in case someone misses a call from a club or promoter. That said, also stay sober-ish/ready to play until about 8:00 p.m. – that's when they'll stop calling to fill empty spots." – Dustin Binns, manager of Sonicbids band Death On Two Wheels
  9. "Perform for 10 people the same way you would for 10,000 people." – Sean Falyon
  10. "Talk to everyone you can, take every piece of promo material, hand out as much of your own as you can afford. You never know who might change your life. There are no guarantees, but SXSW is full of serendipitous moments." – Matt Parmenter


Find out more survival tips from our 2014 SXSW recap video with fellow Sonicbids artists!


Congratulations again and best of luck to all of the Sonicbids acts headed to Austin! We can't wait to see you there!

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Topics: sxsw, Musician Success Guide, Strategies for Success, austin


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