Some Post-SXSW Thoughts From TuneCore’s Staff

A couple weeks back, a group from of TuneCore staff members trekked down to Austin for SXSW 2017. We had a great set-up in the SXSW Artist Gifting Lounge, where we were able to connect directly with artists – getting feedback, answering questions, providing promotional/social media consultations, and in some cases, just explaining what we’re all about.

By night, we hit the town – checking out TuneCore Artist’s sets all over the downtown area, from small divey punk bars to brilliant outdoor spaces (and at one point, a BBQ restaurant!). It’s always great to get out and see artists do their thing on stage, but it’s hard to beat four nights in a row of it.

With everything wrapped up and everyone fully out of their queso-comas, we thought it’d be cool to get some feedback from some TuneCore folks who made their way south – what they saw, heard and learned during SXSW.


On exciting opportunities being made available to artists at SXSW:

“Independent artist being able to discuss changes and opportunities with leaders in the music industry.”
Chris Mooney, Senior Director, Artist Relations

“Overall the artists I spoke to were looking to meet industry professionals and wind up on a stage. There were a lot more indie promoters working with SXSW this year then I remember from past years, which gave artists more of a platform and more networking opportunities up and down 6th Street.”
Kedar Frederic, VP, Business Development

“I may be old-fashioned, but I really love all the media opportunities available to artists at SXSW. Whether an interview is booked in advance of the festival, or a journo grabs an artist for a quick Q&A after a particularly great set, media attention helps bands build their profiles.”
Amy Lombardi, Director, Entertainment Relations

On struggles that independent artists are facing in 2017:

“I’d say just getting streamed and landing on popular playlists.”
Marie-Anne Robert, VP, International

“Social media marketing – everything from where to start, what to do, and how to grow audience.”
Justin Golshir, TuneCore Social Project Director

“The number one struggle was accessing quality promotion. Discovery is so saturated and almost every artist I spoke to were looking for authentic ways to getting on playlists or channels that had more visibility.”
Chris Mooney, Senior Director, Artist Relations

“There is a LOT of music out there and a lot of talent at the festival. You gotta hustle and be organized to make the most of your time.”
Kedar Frederic, VP, Business Development

On educational panels being offered:

“The panel I attended about “Demystifying Asia’s Music Industry” included some very interesting information about Chinese and Korean markets. For instance, China is going through their ‘baby boom age’ for music festivals at the moment, jumping from just three festivals to 100 in the past two years!”
Marie-Anne Robert, VP, International

“I picked up some really interesting details on artists as their own brand and the importance of authenticity in the “Creating for a Cause” panel [featuring TuneCore’s Amy Lombardi].”
Chris Mooney, Senior Director, Artist Relations

“I think overall the tone of events and panels I attended that mattered was focused around finding ways to make your artistry and brand more professional and polished.”
Kedar Frederic, VP, Business Development

On favorite conversations, interactions and moments with TuneCore Artists during SXSW:

“I met a US rapper, Steelyone, who told us, ‘I love your asian store KKBOX as it brings me so many royalties – even though I’ve never been to Asia!'”
Marie-Anne Robert, VP, International

“I really loved talking about artists’ Spotify strategies. In multiple discussions, there was a focus on increasing followers, more so than just stream-count, (including the artist Saro and the folks from the label New Illuminati Entertainment).”
Chris Mooney, Senior Director, Artist Relations

“Way too many quality interactions that were equally great. I specifically like meeting urban artists who are still in the mindset that they need a deal or manager for distribution. Once I explain TuneCore their minds are blown.”
Kedar Frederic, VP, Business Development

“I met manager Sage Smith and was excited to listen to the passion she had for her artists and see the drive she had for their success.”
Amy Lombardi, Director, Entertainment Relations

On advice you’d offer to folks traveling to SXSW next year:

“Don’t plan early meetings in the morning!”
Marie-Anne Robert, VP, International

“Plan a schedule in advance to be sure to take full advantage of everything that’s going on during the week.”
Justin Golshir, TuneCore Social Project Director

“Try to have a new release out around SXSW to excite fans and provide more opportunity for coverage.”
Chris Mooney, Senior Director, Artist Relations

“SXSW is a very different kind of beast. Relationships get built at events and shows and you need a lot of room in your schedule to stay agile and move around. Keep your ears and eyes open, and introduce yourself professionally whenever you can, you never know who’s watching. Also, if you’re going to try and hand out CD’s (which I suggest you don’t) make sure you can also be found on at least one of the major platforms.”
Kedar Frederic, VP, Business Development

“Anyone attending SXSW 2018 should arrive in Ausin well-rested wearing comfortable, water-proof shoes. If you’re an artist, go the extra mile and take all your gear into wherever you’re staying at night. It exhausting after a long day, but you’ll be happy it’s there in the morning!”
Amy Lombardi, Director, Entertainment Relations

On what TuneCore Artists blew you away with their live performance:

“Caravanchela (from Colombia).”
Marie-Anne Robert, VP, International

“Plastic Daggers.”
Justin Golshir, TuneCore Social Project Director

“Deep Sea Diver.”
Chris Mooney, Senior Director, Artist Relations

“I watched TuneCore artist Kado Barlatier alongside the team from Steve Madden and he was infectious.”
Kedar Frederic, VP, Business Development

“I really enjoyed sets Deep Sea Diver and Quin Galvis!”
Amy Lombardi, Director, Entertainment Relations

Scenes From SXSW 2017

We’re only a couple days in and so far, SXSW 2017 has been a blast! Tons of amazing live music moments, a sweet set-up in the Artist Lounge where we’re connecting with our artists, and super educational and informative panels. We thought we’d check in and show off some of the fun we’re having in the Lone Star State.

Like we said – if you’re a showcasing artist and you haven’t come by the SXSW Artist Lounge yet, come say hello! We’ve got free swag for days and we’re here all week.

On Wednesday, Amy Lombardi ran the “Creating For a Cause: Music For Action & Awareness” panel, featuring Chaka Mpeanaji (of Riders Against the Storm), Heather Alden of the SIMS Foundation, and Chip Adams of Modern Outsider Records. Each panelist was able to dig deep into their individual experiences of organizing and performing in the name of a cause they feel passionate about.

It was inspiring to see how much good can come of this kind of action, and it was a healthy reminder to artists in the crowd that as long as your picking something that you’re passionate about, it doesn’t matter where you are in your career when it comes to getting involved with it via your music.

On Thursday, TuneCore’s Chris Mooney ran the “Transforming Online Popularity to Offline Success” panel alongside artist managers Adina Friedman and Genevieve Thompson, and TuneCore Artist Ron Pope.

This informative session covered the varying strategies that artists like Ron, Lennon & Maisy, and Lindsey Stirling applied when building a fan base around the world. What started as things like viral videos and trying out new performance venues helped skyrocket some of these artists’ careers – and artists and mangers in the room had the opportunity to hear how. The panelists were supported by a great group of folks sitting down who eagerly lined up and asked questions as it wrapped up.

Above is TuneCore’s station in the Artist Gifting Lounge within the Austin Convention Center! All week we’ve been hanging out here from 11am-6pm interacting with SXSW Showcasing Artists – whether it’s been in-person music industry and marketing consultations or just shooting the breeze and getting to know folks who use TuneCore (and some who don’t!), our time in this station has been extremely rewarding.

Plus, it never hurts to show off some of our artists walking away with cool stuff:

Canyon City
Canyon City

 

Slow Kiss & TuneCore’s Andreea Gleeson
Evolfo
TuneCore’s Marie-Anne Roberts catching up with Kool Kidd Dre & Steely One

 

Sad Girl
No Big Dyl with TuneCore’s Chris Mooney

Each night, members from TuneCore’s team have been heading out to tons of showcases all over Austin to support and catch sets from various TuneCore Artists. Everything from singer/songwriters and country rockers to hip hop and punk bands.

Kado Barlatier at the YouTube Building
Dead Leaf Echo at Iron Bar
Half Waif at Valhalla
Birthday at CU29
TuneCore’s Amy Lombardi with members of Food Court at Dirty Dog Bar
Slow Dancer at Austin Central Presbyterian
Drive Like Maria all the way from the Netherlands
Caravanchella at the Sounds of Colombia Showcase
Deep Sea Diver at Main Bar

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to catch some more of the #SXSW 2017 action!

5 Tips to Prepare for SXSW

[Editors Note: This blog was written by W. Tyler Allen, a music and marketing consultant and contributor to the TuneCore Blog.]

SXSW is one of those events that has become synonymous with the music industry. The festival and conference is one of the best known events in the US that centers around technology and music.

But did you catch that? Festival and conference? It’s even in their name.

While SXSW is known internationally- many creatives still approach SXSW as just a festival, and pass up the networking opportunities and more that exist on the conference end.

Here’s a truth – it’s not bashing anyone – but it’s just an observation:

Many artists hand out CDs on the corner, or post on social media – hoping that by chance – the “right people” will just stroll into their showcase. Maybe it’s a writer, a label head, a music supervisor. But this is all by chance.

However… there’s networking events all week, where these “important people” actually go to meet artists like you. So why are you standing on the street corner, or tweeting about your event – when you can be getting actual facetime with these individuals – inviting them in person? Or better yet – you can pitch them a few weeks before SXSW (which we’ll discuss in this article).

I discussed SXSW last year in an article on the lessons I learned taking an indie label to SXSW. I spoke about the music supervisor I met loading in gear who landed us an MTV spot, I spoke about the issues in pay-for-play gigs at SXSW, and more.

The event can be a huge boost for your career – but you need to know where to focus. There’s a lot going on – events, crowds, speakers and showcases – here’s how to drown out the fluff, and properly prepare for SXSW.

TIP 1: BUILD A MEDIA LIST + CONTACT IN ADVANCE.

As I said earlier – why wait for the right person to walk down the street, when you can genuinely target them and reach out to them before hand? If you work for any large company – what do they do before a conference?

They (or their publicists) compile a media list to see what writers and reporters will be attending the conference. Next they email the writers before the event – inviting them to their booth.

Now replace the word “reporters” with music writers/A&Rs/management teams – and the word “booth” with your showcase – and now you’ve cracked the code.

What if you don’t have a showcase? That’s fine – still introduce yourself for maybe coffee or drinks at a mutual show.

Unfortunately, SXSW doesn’t have a publically available media list like some conferences. However with some resources – or some good ole’ fashioned Googling – you can make it work.

First – check out tools like PitchZen – they research media connections on a customized basis, all humans, not robots or directories. They can surely assist you with customized lists for SXSW. They help write the pitches, too.

Secondly – if that’s not a route you wish to take – simply search which writers have covered SXSW in years past, and start compiling a list. The list should have their name, outlet, and a link to the article they wrote. This list is just for your reference.

Go deeper and go to ZoomInfo (for emails) or even Twitter to find info for other industry folks that may have attended in past years. Add those to the list, too.

Lastly – hit ’em up! Send them a short email telling them about yourself, your showcase (or work) and a link to your EPK. Keep it casual and quick – but also give them resources to make them want to come meet you.

TIP 2: YOU HAVE $250 TO SPEND … BUY ONTO A SHOWCASE, OR BUY CONFERENCE PASSES?

Conference passes.

Look, I mentioned this in my past article – there’s a difference between playing at SXSW at an official showcase and playing during SXSW at an unofficial one.

An official showcase is one that SXSW approves of, they help market – and they give passes to media, and promotes official shows to media (and other influencers). SXSW official showcases will never ask you for money to perform. SXSW official showcases are not pay-for-play.

An unofficial showcase, is usually a nearby venue, who is renting out their space to a promoter or someone else. Usually they charge you money (to perform your own work.. yep), and are just looking to make a quick buck off of hungry artists.

Side Note: Do good unofficial showcases exist? Yes. Especially ones that don’t charge. Some big brands have unofficial showcases (and they don’t charge artists) – they just likely missed a deadline with SXSW, or some other technicality.

So – let’s say you are going to Austin with $250. You can upgrade your passes for a conference, or pay to have a 15 minute set at an unofficial showcase.

Go to the conference.

These unofficial shows usually have 30+ artists performing in a single hour, you can’t sell merch and they aren’t well put together. They also aren’t marketed by SXSW.

If you’re short for cash, spend that on the conference. There’s networking events, there’s talks from music industry execs and panels from marketing experts. That knowledge is worth much more than performing for 30 people and never seeing that return on investment.

TIP 3: SPEND MONEY ON MARKETING/EDUCATION NOT CDS.

If you go to SXSW – you’ll notice that the streets are littered with tossed aside CDs. Now – as an indie artist – you should know that every CD laying on the ground is money.

Literally dollars upon dollars – wasted. Laying on the streets – for the sanitation department to sweep up the next day.

So – as you prepare for SXSW, think wisely about what will make the best investment. Is it buying onto shows? Pressing 100 CDs? Or something a bit more direct.

For instance – instead of pressing 100 CDs – how about spending that money on Facebook or Twitter ads – targeting people who follow, or have tweeted about SXSW in the past?

Or – instead of pressing CDs – how about investing in a publicist that can link you with reporters directly that week, instead of hoping one falls in your lap?

Or – and to repeat myself now for the third time – instead of pressing CDs, how about attending the conference and meet with decision makers face-to-face?

TIP 4: FIND OTHER ARTISTS WHO ARE PERFORMING + LINK UP!

Hey! Under the veneer of labels and A&Rs and all this smoke and fanciness – the power largely still resides in the artists. That why services like TuneCore, Landr and other tools are so powerful.

You may not be able to track down the super-busy Billboard magazine editor at SXSW, or the management company CEO – who’s running around checking on all her acts.

However, you’ll likely be able to easily connect with other artists. They’re usually pretty open to it, too. In fact, I’ve been part of and seen many financially successful tours or just co-promo situations when artists come together.

Even if it’s grabbing a beer before someone elses show – go and meet other artists. You may find a new touring partner, or even a new manager – or at the very least, swap stories and learn.

Check the SXSW artists page – or even your Twitter feed to see which artists are headed to Austin, and see if you can meet up – or even just go support their show.

TIP 5: OF COURSE – GET YOUR MARKETING RIGHT.

If all goes well – you’re going to be sending people to the Googles or to your social media. So – ensure that all outlets are active. Ensure there’s a good mixture of music/fun/and promo posts on all your pages.

Also make sure your EPK is up to date – upload any and all photos, videos and more. Also – research what makes a “quality” EPK, too. No more PDFs, folks. Web-based, mobile friendly EPKs are the wave.

As I mentioned before – spend money on social media ads, and build up your numbers and presence while in the city. I can guarantee there’s very “big name” artists at SXSW that aren’t geotargeting ads to Austin for their shows.

So, do that.

Ensure your digital presence is right – and that people are aware of your physical presence at SXSW.

Quick checklist:

– All social channels are current and active.
– An updated EPK.
– Social media ads – geotargeted to Austin during the event.
– Social media posts scheduled when you’re on the road – so you don’t have to manually post them.
– Custom graphics for your performances.

BONUS TIP: ENJOY AUSTIN.

Yep – let’s get a little cheesy.

I had a former client of mine hit me up recently. We designed a merch campaign together – and he’s making some good income on merch. But he also knows I’m very anti pay-for-play.

He let me know that he’ll be in Austin for the first time for SXSW. He bought tickets to attend a few networking events – but he asked about all the pay-for-play offers he was getting.

It was cheap – especially for his budget, and two of his friends were performing at the unofficial event. He also had meetings set up with editors, and a booking agent. All meetings he set up beforehand.

So I told him – I don’t advocate pay-for-play – but if you have meetings with writers, potential booking agents, if you’re spending time with artist friends – if you are going to the conference – spend your change on playing that 30 minute set, and then go enjoy Austin and the SXSW scene.

Artists are lucky to get to see and experience parts of the country that folks in an office can’t. So – get out there. Austin is one of the most unique cities in the country, and the live music capital of the world. So – why not? Pencil in time to go to the SXSW conference events, to meet with fellow artists – but also get out there, , the culture, (the bats) and everything else that makes Austin and SXSW great.

Your Stress-Free SXSW Kit

With SXSW 2017 kicking off this week, we thought it would be cool to offer our friend Debbie Stanley’s “Stress-Free SXSW Kit” infographic, covering everything an indie artist or band will need during their time in Austin for health and comfort, communication, and overall preparedness.

Debbie is the author of The Organized Musician and owner of Thoughts In Order. She’ll will be presenting at SXSW’s “Time Management For Musicians” panel this week (details below):

“Time Management for Musicians”
Thurs. 3/16, 3-4:30pm – RSVP required

Stress-Free SXSW Kit - Stanley

5 Ways to Optimize Your Time at SXSW

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo.Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the co-founder of 24West, a full-service creative agency focusing on music and tech.]

2017 seems to be a bit of an odd year for SXSW. Between the visa controversy and the fact a good number of traditionally cornerstone participants are either scaling down their involvement or skipping the conference all together, a lot of artists who may have stretched their budget to attend may be starting to worry about whether it was the best use of their time and resources.

Well, fear not! At the end of the day any networking/showcase scenario will be exactly what you as an individual makes of it. Despite the scaled-down scope of this year’s festivities, there will still be more than enough industry professionals in attendance. From press tastemakers and music supervisors to label A&R reps and booking agents, if you play your cards right in Austin there is a very strong chance that you will return home afterwards in a better career situation than you are in today.

Here are five ways to optimize your time in Austin in between all the delicious tacos and BBQ you’ll be getting into:

1. One-On-One Meetings Will Be Your Most Important

A lot of emphasis is placed on getting the ‘right’ showcases and playing in front of the ‘right’ people. Personally, I feel that the real difference in generating lead opportunities comes when you’re not playing. Make sure your schedule is packed with one-on-one meetings when you’re not doing official showcases or attending networking events. Reach out to people you would want to work with in advance of getting to Austin to lock in a time to grab a drink or coffee. If your pre-determined list of people to meet with isn’t that extensive, improve it while you’re there. If you meet someone at an event don’t just bank on connecting after you get home. Take the time to meet with them later in the week in a more personal scenario. If you reside in different cities, this may be your last chance to talk face-to-face for a while.

2. Go to Networking Events

Unless you’ve got a string of top-billed showcases lined up and the industry is already buzzing about your band, a lot of your ‘wins’ are going to come in expanding your network offstage. If you’re a young artist that isn’t quite ‘on the inside’ of the industry yet, any networking event will give yourself the chance to make new contacts. When you’re not yet able to rely on the strong rolodex of a powerful manager, lawyer or label, it’s on you to really build your connections to create opportunities. That way next year you will have those high profile performance slots!

3. Turn Other Shows into Networking Events

We all love live music. That’s a big part of the reason why we work so hard to have a career in this business. But as a musician, it is best to keep in mind that you are working at these shows. Go see as many bands as you can and make it a point to connect with the artists you like after their sets. This may not be that fruitful if you’re trying to convince Run The Jewels to let you open their next tour, but if you find some good mid-tier bands there might be a chance to string together a few tour dates together to take advantage of each of your regional fanbases. Or if the band is a bit further along in their career than you are, maybe you can open for them when they come through your city.

Either way, it doesn’t hurt to approach them at SXSW and strike up a casual conversation. Just make sure you’re not coming across as if you were only reaching out to pitch them on your band. Let them know how much you like their set, ask them questions about their music and where they’re from. If that goes well, let them know you’d like to keep in touch and take it from there. Also, if you do somehow run into Killer Mike or El-P, the same rules apply!

4. Share Your Experience On Socials (And Optimize It)

There is nothing more important to creating opportunities than face-to-face interactions. Still, you have the digital realm at your disposal and you should do your best to optimize that. Take photos at the different events you attend and post them to your social networks. Make sure you’re using the proper hashtags when doing so to aggregate some attention from other people at the conference. Also, always tag the bands and companies that are involved in the showcase or event you’re snapping photos from and geo-tag your posts as well! After SXSW is over, this may also end up being a good way to stir up conversations with people you may not have gotten to talk to in person over the course of the week.

5. Organize Your Contacts and Follow Up!

This is perhaps the most important aspect of the conference and one that is often overlooked. Take as many business cards and other contact info as you can while you’re down there. Make sure you’re chronicling when and where you meet people (I like to keep a notebook that I update at the end of each day). That way when everyone goes back to their respective homes at the end of the week you can follow up letting them know how great it was to connect and set up a call to continue the conversation on how you can potentially work together. If there is no ‘next steps’ after Austin the trip may not have been worth your time and money afterall!

Also…the tacos. Eat all the tacos!

5 Tips & Taboos to Remember at SXSW

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Jhoni Jackson, a music journalist and Puerto Rico-based venue owner.]

 

Planning is key to a successful SXSW experience, but there’s more to prepping than booking shows and finding a place to stay. Understanding what you could potentially get out of your time at the fest is equally important as accepting what’s very unlikely to happen; whether you’re a first-timer or returning band hoping for better results this year, this guide can help lay the foundation for your plans.

1. Tip: Set realistic networking goals

Getting noticed by important industry folk at SXSW would be a career-boosting dream, of course. But for most bands and artists, even if they’re on full display at an official showcase, enamoring a label rep or booking agent to a point that they sweep in and offer a massive deal that changes their lives forever—that’s simply not reality.

While the ultimate winning scenario isn’t impossible, your time at the festival is much better spent focusing on realistic networking goals. Instead of hoping for the ultimate opportunity, seek out connections with all types of people regardless of presumed influence. The founder of a tiny label you hadn’t heard of before, the blogger who’s there as official press but is covering events on their own accord, that person in the crowd who took a video of your set—any of these people could potentially help you in some way, big or small. Networking as a independent musician isn’t just about moving up the ranks, it’s about finding your people within that community, cultivating those connections and collaborating together to elevate each other’s work.

Taboo: Being obnoxious

Don’t let your eagerness to talk with someone in the industry obliterate common sense. Interrupting a conversation, grabbing at a passing person to get their attention, forcing a chat to keep going despite sensing the other party is trying to move on—all of these things are as unacceptable in industry networking as they are in any social setting. Being excited to meet someone and super-hyped by the possiblity of working together is not an excuse for being annoying or making other people uncomfortable.

2. Tip: SXSW is not just about networking

Don’t forget so wrapped up in making connections that you forget the festival is a stellar opportunity for growing your fanbase. If you’ve landed an official showcase, congratulations—but don’t ignore the unofficial parties. If there’s no stipulation in your contract against playing outside the official fest, then definitely, absolutely look into official shows.

Music passes cost between $800 and $1,000; not everyone wants to or has the option to spend that much for access to legit SXSW events. Naturally, the overflow of unofficial parties is immense. Those crowds are real opportunities to grow your fanbase. If you’re not already playing an unofficial event, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to hop on an existing bill at this point. Still, you can search for shows featuring likeminded bands—go check them out, meet people, watch other bands perform, and talk about your band and pass out CDs or cards with download codes when you can.

Taboo: Forgetting the unofficial shows

Seriously, it’s where the action is. As an independent artist, putting too much importance on official showcases and dismissing unofficial shows altogether is basically sacrilege. If you weren’t contracted for an official showcase, you can still play these unofficial shows and have a productive experience.

3. Tip: Prepare thoroughly

If you’ve got a lot of shows lined up, your time at SXSW will inevitably be chaotic. You already know it will be incredibly crowded, and schedules are incredibly compact, packed to the gills with back-to-back sets. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to crumble under the festival’s inherently stressful pressure.

Map out your schedule, taking care to allow for time spent traveling from set to set. Whenever possible, include extra time for the possibility of fighting through a mass of immovable party people. Grabbing a bite seems relatively easy in theory, but the crowds can cause serious delays so you’ll want to figure in some time to eat, too.

Carry a snack on you, just in case. Bring along a refillable water bottle, too. Lastly, keep a portable phone charger handy, bring back-ups like strings and cables and, unless you want to feel miserable for the bulk of your trip, consistently use sunscreen during daylight hours.

Taboo: Freaking out when your schedule goes awry

No matter how meticulously you plan, it’s very possible that some outside factor will negatively affect your schedule. Do your best to adapt to whatever changes you encounter. After all, if a situation is out of your control, the best you can do is minimize additional damage: try to be constructive, but above all else, stay calm.

4. Tip: Use SXSW as a chance to try something new

Is there an idea you’ve been holding onto for fear of it not working in your local scene? Sometimes the habits you develop working your city’s circuit—even the positive ones—hold you back from trying new things. You’ve established a certain rapport with your crowd; suddenly switching things up could put off existing fans.

Handing out flyers with your social media info and album download codes in your own city might feel like overdoing it if you’re under the impression that anyone who wanted to check your band out already knows you exist. Austin during SXSW, totally jam-packed with people who’ve never heard of you, is an ideal opportunity to employ that promo strategy.

That’s only one example—you could incorporate new ideas almost anywhere, from your live setup, to how you deliver a particular song or the kind or cost of merch you sell.

Taboo: Not being yourself

Trying out something new is generally a positive thing, but you shouldn’t go so far as to present a version of yourself that isn’t genuine. It’s a fine line between entertaining a possible change and forcing one. Trust your instincts—you know when something feels insincere or contrived.

5. Tip: Enjoy yourself!

As stressful as SXSW can be, you should still be able to have a good time. Following the aforementioned tips will help you avoid major let-downs and stay chill in times of trouble. You’ll make the most out of the fest if you employ all of them—and you can still do that while having a good time.

If you don’t pile up so many expectations about networking, you’ll find it more enjoyable to connect with people. You can make new connections while hanging out and watching bands at an unofficial show—and that should be fun, duh! And that water bottle you’ve been lugging around will prove especially useful in moderating the effects of booze consumption.

Taboo: Having too good of a time, i.e. getting totally sloshed

It should go without saying that if you hit the booze (or whatever else) too hard, you’ll weaken your chances of making SXSW a productive experience. In a too-wasted state, you could screw up a set, miss an opportunity to talk with industry rep or give a music writer a really terrible first impression. Know your limits, and stick to them. The fest is good reason to party, sure—but don’t forget why you’re really there.