When You Should Consider Signing With a Label

[Editors Note: This article was written by Patrick McGuire.]


The music industry has undergone an impressive comeback over the last two years, but that’s little consolation for artists who continue to struggle to find ways to make ends meet in a post-album world. There are plenty of bright spots to be found for new and small artists in the current music climate, but the landscape surrounding the music industry remains as volatile as ever.

With so much uncertainty accompanying serious music career today, something that’s managed not to change much is the hallowed status of the record label. Lots of artists still have it seared in their minds that all of their musical and financial problems could be solved if they could get picked up by a label.

Sadly, this unfounded reverence for record labels gets many a promising artist into big trouble. Signing with a label is great for some bands and disastrous for others. So, how do you know if it’s the right decision for you?

Figure out what you can accomplish on your own

A burgeoning DIY culture in music with increasingly better tools for promotion and music production – alongside less favorable deals for artists – might make some musicians rethink signing up with a label. When deciding whether to sign with a record label or not, you should always consider what you’re getting out of the deal. What can a label do for you that you can’t do for yourself? Once you have a good idea of what the label in question can do for your music, do your best to find out how good it is at supporting its artists and more importantly, how much it’s going to cost you.

In response to competing in a world of perpetually diminishing album sales, some labels now ink deals designed to ensure they always turn a profit at the cost of the artist. This means that going with the wrong label could leave you on the hook when it comes to paying for recording an album or contracting an expensive firm to facilitate a PR campaign. Even worse, though, is the fact that a bad record deal could leave you not only in debt but also in a position where a label owns the rights to your music for years.

As nice as it is to think that signing with a label can make every band’s dreams become reality, it’s just not true. But that doesn’t mean you should slam the door every time a label comes knocking. There’s plenty of examples of record labels launching and sustaining an artist’s career. But no two record labels are created equal, and discernment is the only way to tell if one is worth your time.

What exactly is a music label, anyway?

If you’re relatively new to making music, you might not realize it yet, but in theory, anyone and anything can be a music label if they call itself one.

Everything from multi-million dollar taste-making corporate machines down to your little brother’s fledgling Soundcloud roster of electronic artists are now being called labels, though what they can actually do for artists is drastically different. If you’re trying to decide whether to sign with a label, it’s important to make sure you’re working with a label that has the capitol, influence and connections to take your music where you want it to go.

How to spot a thriving label

The difference between faux-labels from real ones is the value they provide to their artists. The best way to gauge a label’s legitimacy is to see what the artists on their roster are up to. If bands on a prospective label aren’t touring and releasing new music, then chances are the label in question isn’t doing much to help their artists succeed. Another metric of a label’s reach and effectiveness is how many plays their artists are consistently getting over music platforms.

In short, if the bands on a label’s roster aren’t at a level you want to get to, what’s the point in signing with them?

Why artists need to ask, “What’s in it for me?”

Again, you should only consider signing with a label if there’s something they can do for you that can’t already do yourself. Your music might be amazing, but people who run labels are most interested in turning a profit and making a living. This means that in return for help releasing and promoting your music, most any label you work with is going to expect a lot from you in terms of money, exclusive rights to your music and so on. When artists sign over the rights to their music, they should be getting something incredibly valuable in return.

If you come to the conclusion that it’s just not the right time for you to team up with a label, try not to get too disappointed. Finding real success in music is still a notably tough gig, but tools designed to help artists record and promote their own music are getting better and better. There’s a huge sense of empowerment and creative freedom for bands who find success in music by going it alone.

Patrick McGuire is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.

5 Reasons Why An Email Newsletter Is Still a Good Idea

[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. Stop by next week, where Hugh will break down how to make your email newsletter look as appealing as possible!]


For many years, newsletters were the best way to reach a large group of people, as social media hadn’t exploded and taken over the planet yet. That is no longer the case, as now everybody seems to spend incredible amounts of time on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms every single day. Because of this, I’ve seen many artists give up on their newsletters, and many new acts don’t even bother creating one in the first place.

I understand the thinking when it comes to this decision, but I have to disagree with it. There are plenty of reasons to either keep an email newsletter going or to start one from scratch—hear me out!

1. Give Your Diehards Everything!

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to continue to distribute a newsletter is because there are probably still people who want it. That might sound a bit silly, but if your fans want something, and you can give it to them relatively easily, you should do it. Your more casual listeners might not be intrigued when you enter their inbox, but those who love you and what you do want to hear from you!

They want to know what’s going on, what’s coming up, and they don’t mind receiving your marketing materials, so why would you miss out on an opportunity to speak to them in a way that can only benefit you?

2. Make Sure Your News Is Seen

As a musician, you’re sure to have a lot of news you want to spread around. Between new singles and albums, merchandise lines being released, and, of course, concerts all the time in every city around the world (maybe one day!), there’s a lot you need to communicate to your fans. But sadly, they’re going to miss many of those announcements. Social media channels become more and more clogged every day, and like it or not, your missives about your new video and when you take the stage will likely get pushed down in favor of bigger names.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t continue to make social media a priority, but at the same time, don’t rely on it only. Any bit of news should be shared across all social platforms, posted on your website, and included in a newsletter.

3. Lengthy Content Lives Here

As I just stated, social media is where you’re going to focus most of your energy when it comes to news and announcements, as well as promoting pretty much anything. That makes sense, since everybody is on at least one social platform, and if you are smart and you have a strategy in place for all of them, you’re going to find at least some success.

Having said that, social media wasn’t made for long-form writing, and it really doesn’t do well on Twitter, Facebook, and certainly not Instagram. You may have a blog or a spot on your website where you can post lengthier messages—letters to fans, details about purchasing tickets or merch, etc.—but even those who love you the most might miss those placements.

Newsletters can be fantastic if you have something you need to share that’s longer than any social channel allows. Such instances might not come around often, but you’ll be happy you kept your email messages going when they do.

4. Older Fans Love You, Too!

When it comes to music, everybody seems to only be concerned with younger listeners. Sure, they may be the tastemakers and the ones typically attending concerts and festivals, but they’re not the only people out there, and they aren’t always the ones with the most disposable income. To ignore those slightly older fans, or potential fans, is to shut out potential revenue streams, and no artist should ever do that!

Those audiences may be interested in listening to your tunes, buying your album, and maybe even coming to a concert, but they may not be present on social media. Reaching these listeners is imperative, so you need to go where they are. You probably don’t want to invest in advertising via traditional methods (TV, radio, and so on), so why don’t you email them?

5. Put Everything In One Place…Or, Several Places

The message with this point is simple: the more places you put your news, the better. Copy and pasting news across social platforms and on your website is great, but why not also add your newsletter into the mix? You can use your website as a place to house literally everything people could ever want to know about you and everything you’ve ever released, and your newsletter can act in much the same way, only in a smaller, more up-to-date capacity.

Your newsletter can serve as a roundup of the news you’ve been announcing on social media outlets over several days or weeks, and and once all that news is gone, keep it archived on your site. Also, feel free to include sales, links to merch, music, and buying tickets…but it should focus on everything current. The same things can be on your actual website, and then some.

Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.

5 Reasons Small Blogs Can Launch Your Career

[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]


Everyone wants to get the major blog placements. The review on Pitchfork, the news post on Alternative Press, the feature on Stereogum. And while all of those are incredible placements to land, many artists seem to be missing a vital key in what can help build their career: small blogs.

When you think of a band breaking out, odds are you think of something like a licensing placement or a feature on a huge blog or radio station that got them out to the masses and instantly transformed them overnight. But as we know, there’s no such thing as the overnight sensation. Most of the artists landing those larger blog placements or getting radio play are there because they’ve set the foundation and worked hard to secure a steady stream of buzz and press over the years. And guess where a lot of that press, new fans, support, and engagement came from? Yup, small blogs.

So next time you’re getting ready to start outreach for your new single or album, keep in mind these five reasons that small blogs should be at the top of your list.

1. You’re more likely to get in touch with them

The first advantage to a smaller outlet is that you have a better shot at getting in touch with them. While it’s true that even the smallest blogs get hundreds of press releases and pitches per day, odds are they’re checking their email a little more often and more likely to actually read yours and possibly even respond.

Make sure to tailor your pitch to them (IE: use the writer’s name, comment on something they’ve written that you like, etc) and you’re that much more likely to get a response.

2. They have an extremely loyal audience

Most blogs tend to have a distinct voice that makes it their own. It could be in the writing and/or in the features themselves, but it’s this uniqueness that attracts readers to them, and it’s that same uniqueness that gets them to stay, making small blogs a nesting ground of loyal fans hanging on the blog’s every recommendation.

If you get their seal of approval, that recommendation goes a long way in their readers willingness to check you out.

3. They’ll actually share the article

For whatever reason, large blogs just don’t seem to share content in the same way that small blogs do, particularly in relation to their articles on indie artists.

Yet, when you secure a feature on an up and coming blog, they will almost always share that to their fans (multiple times on multiple platforms) which means you’re not just getting in front of the readers who happen to be on the site that day, but you’re getting in front of their entire social media audience, and drastically increasing your visibility.

4. Their features will be more in-depth

One thing I’ve noticed over the last 4 years of being a publicist is that while the big blog placements are great for visibility and bragging rights, their features just don’t seem to pack the same punch that a review or a feature on a smaller outlet does.Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part I’ve found it’s the smaller blogs that take the time to really dive into the artist’s world through detailed descriptions of their music, thought-provoking interview questions, and lengthy, comprehensive articles.

Why is this valuable? For a few reasons. The first being that as an indie artist you want an article that showcases who you are and what your music is all about, so that if people don’t already know who you are, by the end of the article they want to. The second is that having these highly quotable pieces of content to share in your press kit and on social media is simply invaluable.

5. There’s opportunity for long-term growth

Most writers have more than one gig. They may run their own blog on the side while also freelancing for a larger outlet, or they may get their feet wet writing for a small blog, and in a few year’s time gain enough experience to go on to the larger ones. My point being, when you align yourself with a growing blog, it’s a natural fit that allows the two of you to grow together.

It’s unreasonable to think that an emerging band who is just getting their footing should grab the attention of a major player in the blogging world, but to align with a blog who is also just getting started, build that relationship, and perhaps in a few year’s time both be in a position to secure a larger feature—well now that’s just smart networking.

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.

SXSW 2018: Local Picks – Best Of Record Stores, Tacos, Venues and More

[Editors Note: This article was written and compiled by Amy Lombardi, TuneCore’s Director of Entertainment Relations.]


We want to help you make the most of your time at in Austin, TX while you’re at SXSW, so we compiled lists from local experts on very important topics such as record stores and tacos. So you’ll feel properly prepared, we also included gear stores, just in case you break a string.

Plan to check out some of our favorite Austenite’s’ favorite things!

Jennifer Dugas, Programs Director – Austin Music Foundation

Favorite Live Music Venue: So many great live music venues to choose from. My #1 is C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. I’ve discovered some of my favorite local musicians there, like Jai Malano and Los Coast. Dig the intimate vibe of the room and the secret bar upstairs.
Yummiest Tacos: Taco Joint on Riverside. Breakfast tacos served all day… on homemade tortillas, fresh off the grill. Enough said.
Best Music Gear Store: South Austin Music. I’m not a musician myself, so I defer to musicians who tell me this is a favorite around town.
Go to for Late Night Food: Justine’s. Where else can you order steak frites at 2am while listening to Nina Simone on vinyl?
Fave Record Store: I have a wistful affection for Waterloo Records. I was 18 the first time I visited Austin, spent hours at the store cruising through music and purchased my first Whiskeytown record there.

Taméca Jones, Singer

Favorite Live Music Venue: The Parish – The quality of sound and lights at the Parish cannot be touched.
Yummiest Tacos: Nona’s Tacos at 102 W. Powell – I don’t venture to north Austin much living in New Braunfels. Last summer, I took my daughter to a basketball team try out in north Austin and stopped by this place randomly in the way home because she and I were famished.  It was next to a gas station so my expectations were low.  I took one bite and had to pull my car over so that I could finish all the tacos I ordered.
Best Music Gear Store: Switched On
Go to for Late Night Food: Justine’s is for the bad and bougie – for the people who want a gourmet pork chop with green beans and scalloped potatoes at 12:45 in the morning. Don’t forget to order their exquisite crème brûlée.
Fave Record Store: A what? I don’t buy records. So, Apple Music?

Anthony Rucci, Talent Buyer – C3 Presents

Favorite Live Music Venue: Mohawk outside stage – a little claustrophobic at sold out shows, but still the most energy of any venue in town.
Yummiest Tacos: Mellizoz Tacos truck on S. 1st St. – not traditional street tacos, but stand on their own accord.
Best Music Gear Store: Austin Vintage Guitars if you want to spend all your money or ogle at guitars that were made before you were born, South Austin Music for your everyday practical needs.
Go to for Late Night Food: Shawarma Point truck or Sabor Cubano truck on Red River and 7th when you need that post-show gut bomb.
Fave Record Store: End of an Ear for finding the old gems, Waterloo for new releases.

Dean Cote, Musician – Fort Never, Blastfamous USA, NGHT HCKLRS 

Favorite Live Music Venue: Empire Control Room: The inside has a great small club atmosphere and the outside is perfect for big shows.  Craig Lawrence always has the sound dialed in perfectly.
Yummiest Tacos: I would have to say the breakfast tacos at Los Comales on east 7th, they are always delicious and have a little taco bar set up so it’s really quick, and you can’t beat the price!
Best Music Gear Store: Hands down Rock and Roll Rentals, it may actually be my favorite place in the universe.
Go to for Late Night Food: The Pizza at King Bee could be some of the best pizza in Austin, it’s also on the east side and has a great bar and good music.
Favorite Record Store: End of an Ear. I’ve discovered a lot my favorite records at this store.  The staff knows music and can turn you on to new records. like in the old days.

Adrienne Lake, Senior Talent Buyer – Heard Presents

Favorite Live Music Venue: Moody Theatre- the sound and lighting are unmatched and seeing acts like LCD Soundsystem, Sigur Ros, The Black Angels and the Kills there is pretty much heaven on earth. The sight lines and sound of the Parish are hard to beat. For fun I like Hotel Vegas, Empire, Mohawk and Spider House.
Yummiest Tacos: COOL BEANS! The migas taco is not on the menu, but it’s the most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth.
Best Music Gear Store: I don’t want to say Guitar Center, but when you are a venue booking touring acts you need a store that has everything.
Go to for Late Night Food: Arlo’s. Not only the best vegan burger in town, the best burger in town period.
Fave Record Store: Waterloo

Dana West, High Road Touring

Favorite Live Music Venue: It’s hard to pick just one… Summer sweaty nights at the Mohawk are what memories are made of, but I also love seeing shows at ACL Moody or Paramount Theater. Venues with seats FTW.
Yummiest Tacos: Tacodeli’s black bean and avocado on whole wheat. Not a typical breakfast taco, but a breakfast taco treat!
Best Music Gear Store: I don’t frequent a lot of gear stores, but I asked my friend Eddie Robert and he says Austin Vintage Guitar. I trust him impeccably.
Go to for Late Night Food: East Side King or Thai Kun trucks
Fave Record Store: Waterloo— it’s walking distance from my office and I love bopping over there for an in-store and a beer!

Simone Wilson, Community Outreach Specialist – City of Austin Music & Entertainment Division

Favorite Live Music Venue: Right now? Central Presbyterian Church. I felt a little guilty for rockin’ out in the pews at first but the last few shows I’ve seen there were awesome.
Yummiest Tacos: Veracruz’s Al Pastor
Best Music Gear Store: Rock n Roll Rentals.
Go to for Late Night Food: Via 313. I can’t deny those four slices of deliciousness.
Fave Record Store: Waterloo Records

Nathalie Phan, Founder & Chief Everything Officer – On-Vinyl Media

Favorite Live Music Venue: The Mohawk has a little bit of something for everyone whether you want to stay warm inside by the fireplace, check out a cool local band indoors or see what’s happening outside on the big stage. You can’t go wrong with any of the bands booked by Margin Walker – I don’t think I have been to a single show where I didn’t walk away happy.
Yummiest Tacos: Con Madre Kitchen is a small food truck parked outside a Valero down the street from St. Ed’s campus. It’s a student favorite but I return for breakfast/lunch all the time as an alumni. Try their chicharrones tacos!
Best Music Gear Store: Rock ‘n’ Roll is my go-to for cheap gear rentals, hands down. They have unbelievable prices for quality gear and very helpful, friendly personnel to recommend equipment for your personal needs.
Go to for Late Night Food: Tysons Tacos, P Terry’s, or 24 Diner, depending on what part of town I’m in and what kind of grub I’m feeling! All very different restaurants but you cannot go wrong with any of them. Tysons is great for a quick taco pickup. P Terry’s is also very convenient and will blow out In-n-Out every time. 24 Diner is a bit more of a splurge but is a great option if you want some killer sit-down food.
Fave Record Store: Whenever I go to End of an Ear, I always hear something playing overhead that is worth purchasing. They hands down have the best and most knowledgeable staff with the best taste in music and though their selection doesn’t seem to be as large as, say, Waterloo Records, it’s curated for the true music aficionado so you spend less time digging through piles of records and more time discovering music you’re more likely to enjoy.


Ish Archbold, Self Sabotage Records, Austin Cultural Exchange

Favorite Live Music Venue: Beerland
Yummiest Tacos: Vegan Nom — some people turn their noses at the word vegan and the less adventurous of those people are welcome to punch their heart attack cards down the block at Juan in a Million or head to <gasp> Torchy’s. The Nom is tasty with or without their delicious hot sauces, on the weekends you often can get a free Lone Star with your tacos (plural because who eats only one?).
Best Music Gear Store: Switched On because I like keyboards, synths, pedals and things that go bleep.
Go to for Late Night Food: Don’t really have a place but I will say that if I am near the Hotel Vegas Concession Stand, it is hard to resist their fries. Taste like 1980s McDonald’s fries, it is uncanny.
Fave Record Store: Exploded Records (at Juiceland) — so, like lots of folks, I like End of an Ear but Exploded Records has choice cuts & overlooked gems without the overwhelming inventory of EOAE; sometimes you want to find something great in the time it takes to get a smoothie, not to mention the free arcade games.


Tony Kamel, Wood & Wire

Favorite Live Music Venue: This is a tough one but as an Austin resident of 16 years, I have to go with one of the most prolific venues in my life and say The Continental Club Gallery. I’ve seen some of the most incredible musicians play there weekly from James McMurtry to Ephriam Owens to The Greyhounds to up and comers like Kalu James (look him up – another local SXSW artist). On any given night, legends of all kinds could show up and sit in. The vibe is unbeatable.
Yummiest Tacos: Though I was born and raised in Texas, I don’t like Tex-Mex. To some, these are blasphemous words. However, I love real deal interior Mexican food (yes there is a difference and it’s big). So I look for the most authentic Mexican street tacos I can find which is simply meat, onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla. I also like the shit everyone else thinks is gross like tripas and barbacoa (look it up if you don’t know… or maybe don’t). Las Trancas on Cesar Chavez is a taco trailer right in the thick of it that meets my above criteria. Pretty fantastic but if you’re looking for fancy frills… ask someone else.
Best Music Gear Store: As an acoustic musician, gotta give it to Fiddler’s Green for acoustic instruments. South Austin Music is my go to for electric gear. In addition to great products, both stores have super cool staff.
Go to for Late Night Food: As the grandson of Lebanese and Italian immigrants, I tend to look to more Mediterranean late night eats. Halal Brothers on West Campus was a staple for me in College at The University of Texas. Pretty sure they have a downtown location too. Kerbey Lane and Magnolia are great but everyone is going to say that and they’ll be slammed that week.
Fave Record Store: Alas once again, I can’t pick just one. Waterloo is an amazing store and a must see when you’re here. They’ll have a really kick-ass party going on in their parking lot. However, if you want to go off the beaten path, check out End of an Ear. Their collection goes deep and you can really get lost in there if you’re a vinyl head.

Laura Thomas, Agent/Owner – ComboPlate Booking

Favorite Live Music Venue:  Cactus Cafe
Yummiest Tacos: Mellizoz Tacos
Best Music Gear Store: South Austin Music
Go to for Late Night Food: Magnolia Cafe on S. Congress
Fave Record Store: Waterloo Records


Getting Ready For Your SXSW Showcases

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo.]


SXSW 2018 is just around the corner and, if you’re performing at the conference this year, it’s time to start preparing.

While a lot of your focus should be on maximizing your entire time in Austin (and the number of breakfast tacos you’re going to eat), it could also pay dividends to spend some time specifically getting ready for your showcase. There will be over a thousand artists performing during SXSW this March, so much care needs to be taken to ensure that your showcase registers as more than just a blip on the periphery of people’s radar.

Whether you’re an official artist or just on the bill for some unofficial parties, the following four tips will help you make the most of your time in Austin.

Network Beforehand

As is always the case, preparation for your gig starts way in advance – both in terms of your performance and how you will use it to set up your next opportunity. Even if you are playing later in the week, getting to Austin a few days ahead of that (budget permitting) to network is a great plan. Go to shows and arrange meetings so the people you want to know you’re playing will be aware. Even before you get to Austin, use the internet.

The Unofficial Guide to SXSW is a great asset for finding things to do and places where the sort of music industry professionals and writers you would want to connect with might be. Also, use your social media accounts to reach out to people and PACK YOUR SCHEDULE IN ADVANCE. It will be chaotic once you’re in Austin so knowing when and where you’re going to meet with key people beforehand will be essential.

Connect with the Other Bands

Following up on the chaos theme, there will be a million other shows going on at other venues (often on the same street) during your showcase. This can make load-in sort of a nightmare. Reach out to the bands that you are sharing the bill with in advance to see if you can coordinate equipment.

The less running around and chaos you have to do before the show, the more time you’ll have to focus on your set. Also, the smoother the transition between bands is, the more likely you’ll get people that were there to see the previous band to stick around for your set. Maybe they’re finishing their beer when the last band is wrapping up. If you’re quick to the stage afterwards and you come out firing maybe you’ll intrigue those individuals enough to stick around.

Which is a perfect segue to the next point…

Focus on Your Set list

There is a theory on setlists – start with your fastest song and end with your most popular. This rings particularly true with festivals and conferences. Punch them in the face (whatever your band’s version of doing so is) right out of the gate to grab their attention and build towards your “hit”.

You will probably only have about twenty minutes for most showcases so pay particular attention to which four to five songs will have the biggest impact and try to eliminate as much awkward silence from song-to-song. Maybe build some transitions between songs or have some guidelines on your banter. Keep the energy up and you’ll have a better chance of keeping people in the room.

Stick Around to Network After the Show

SXSW is very transitory.

People are hopping between venues trying to catch as many of the bands they wanted to see as possible and meet all the people on their ‘to do’ list. Stick around a bit after your show and try to speak to as many people in the room as possible. Next to the music, there is no more important aspect of building a career in music than networking.

Meet as many people as you can in Austin and give yourself the best opportunity possible to translate those interactions to a wider fanbase and a bigger music industry rolodex.

Rich Nardo is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.

SXSW 2018 – Best Practices for the Biggest Fest

[Editors Note: This article was written by TuneCore’s Director of Entertainment Relations, Amy Lombardi.]


You’re heading to SXSW, one of the world’s largest music festivals and conferences. Well, whether you’re a veteran of South by, or taking your first trip to the Lone Star State, here are a few suggestions for making the most of the fun and festivities!

Bring It On and Pack It In!

Mid-March in Austin, TX is exactly when our weather turns from a lion into a lamb. Temperatures are unpredictable this time of year, and you can experience both cold rain and sweltering heat in a matter of minutes. To ensure your comfort in any scenario, bring a casual scarf along with a light jacket or hoodie, which should fit all easily into the tote bag you’ll also pack to tote around town. A few other items you could include for your bag could a pen, a Sharpee, sunglasses, sunscreen, an external battery pack for your cell and/or phone charger, and business cards. Yup, they’re still a thing!

SXSW encompasses Downtown Austin, the East Side and the area nicknamed SoCo, and with a couple extra hundred thousand people in town, traffic gets heavy. You can Lyft or Uber, Pedi cab, or rent a bike, but sometimes the fastest way around is walking. So, bring comfy shoes (maybe even something waterproof).

Hydration Station

It’s true that beer flows freely around SXSW but with all the walking and talking you’ll be doing while going to shows and meeting new people, you’ll need to stay hydrated, too! Drink water whenever you can and grab the free ones when offered.


At most times during SXSW, there will be dozens events to choose from that offer something free: booze, food, swag, or water (see our advice on that, above). ‘Free’ could even just mean access to a real bathroom! The bag you’ll be carrying around will help you carry goodies back to where you’re staying, and complimentary snacks will help keep bridge the gap between actual meals. Grab what you need where you can get it and the leave the rest for the next fest goer!

“There’s a convention happening here, too?”

Yes! SXSW is compromised of hundreds of music showcases and parties around town featuring live music, and all the free stuff we covered, but the Austin Convention Center is Festival HQ. Stop in to recharge your electronics at charging stations and your body with snack and beverages. Walk around the ground level of the Convention Center (open to all) to engage with art installations set up for networking (one year there were thousands of Legos) or stop by a photobooth where you can snap and share a pic of your Southby adventure!

Pleased To Meet Me…

Because of the sheer number of professionals concentrated in one city, SXSW presents excellent opportunities to network and meet peers and pros in the music industry. Keep in mind that while the fest seems like a great hang, there’s a lot of business getting done! Because of this, most folks have little time for lengthy conversation.

If you connect with someone in a role which could help your band get a leg up, keep the conversation brief, exchange cards (still a thing), write yourself a note (about the conversation or what they looked like to help you remember once you return home) and let the person move along.

Post-Fest Projects

Once you’re back home and caught up on sleep, you’ll be grateful for the clear notes you jotted down on all the business cards you traded. Start plugging your new contacts into a database or spreadsheet, and email the people you met to reconnect. It’s helpful to reference how or where you met, or the interesting conversation you had. Best practice is to send an email and reconnect before sending a text or add your new contact to your mailing list.

Now you’re ready for good times and a productive week at SXSW. And no worries if you forget your sunglasses, they’re usually free ones readily available!