Having attended every SXSW for the last 16 years, and being an active member of the SXSW Accelerator advisory board, I’ve seen it all. The following are some tips on how to successfully navigate your through the most overwhelming music conference of them all.
Envision What You Want Before You Arrive
My first bit of advice: Arrive prepared. Know who will be attending and create some goals before you get there.
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.
Before You Go, Get Connected!
Get registered to the South by Southwest Directory
Go through the site, which is VERY user friendly, and add links to your Twitter and Facebook seamlessly to determine whom you may want to meet before you arrive. Drop them a personal e-mail using their interface.
Bring Business Cards & Postcards
Yes, you should have a business card, and your card should not just have your name and number. It should have good information about what you or your band sounds like (your pitch) , your Twitter handle, Facebook URLS, and links to any other places people might be able to find you online.A photo of you or a band logo would also be highly recommended.
MooCards makes excellent business cards that are highly customizable, very inexpensive and look great! My whole team used the Facebook Cards MooCards which pulls your information from Facebook and uses the image you have in your Timeline banner as the background for the card.
Don’t Haul A Ton Of CDs
I do not recommend bringing a lot of CDs. People are overwhelmed with free CDs, and they won’t want to carry them home. It’s better to get people’s business cards and mail them a CD, or (better yet!) send your music digitally through Bandcamp or Soundcloud as a follow-up after you get home.
Talk To Strangers
Don’t be scared to take risks and meet people. Conferences are friendly places. Just walk right up and ask “So, what brings you here?” You’ll have a new BFF in no time.
Attend Panels – You Will Learn Something
It’s tempting to blow the panels off and hit all of the free day parties, but I encourage you to make an effort to sit in on at least one or two panels per day. Choose any topic that interests you, and take notes.
Most conferences have amazing mentoring sessions where you can sign up to have one-on-one face time with the industry peeps. Some of the most important people in the music business will be sitting there ready to meet with you.
When you do go to a one-on-one mentoring panel, be prepared to meet these people. Make sure that you have done your research, and have specific questions to ask them.
The moment you get home, make sure to send thank you notes or e-mails. Follow up with every single person that you met. If appropriate, add them to your e-mail list. Never send your pitch or talk about business in the initial e-mail. Get people to respond to your follow up by just being friendly. If you do not follow up, your trip and hard work will have been a waste of your time. So, don’t rip yourself off here!
Meet the Cyber PR® Team at SXSW 2013!
I unfortunately won’t be down in Austin for this year’s festivities, but Jon Ostrow, my Campaigns Director and Chris Hacker, my Marketing Plan Strategist will be there and would love to meet up with you!
Jon will be speaking on a panel with Martin Atkins on Thursday:
Panel: Martin Atkins – Kickstarter 101
With Jon Ostrow and Jenny Owen Youngs
Thursday, March 14
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Room: Room 10C Austin Convention Center
Category: Sound Advice