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.

Networking At SXSW: Keep Those Connections After the Festival Ends

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


Flash forward to a couple of weeks from now: you’ve made it through the brilliance and chaos of another SXSW, and you between all the showcases, panels, and parties, you managed to make a few strong connections that you’d like to hang onto.

So, how do you go about keeping in touch once you’ve parted ways and gone back to your real lives?

Send a follow-up email

Within a few days of heading back home, you want to be sure to send a follow-up email letting them know that it was great meeting them, and opening the door to future collaborations. Remember to reference something unique from your conversation so they remember who you are—people exchange a lot of business cards at SXSW, so, give their memory a bit of a jog by mentioning you’re the girl who had pink in her hair and loves dogs or the guy that told them about that great taco stand around the corner. Then, exchange niceties, keep the conversation flowing, and introduce the idea of working together. Building relationships, and continuing them, is all about setting a foundation of trust and common ground before asking for favors.

Utilize your connections

If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point’ (which you should, along with ‘Outliers’), then you’re well familiar with the term ‘Connector’. If not, let me catch you up:

Gladwell argues there are three types of people: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Salesmen are charismatic and tuned in to people’s emotions, Mavens are the people who always have the inside scoop on the latest thing—they’re full of knowledge and eager to share it (think trendsetters) and Connectors are the ones that bring people together. They not only know a lot of people, but they have the power to continually maintain those relationships, and connect others as needed.

For instance, they’re the people who if Friend A needs a publicist and Friend B is a publicist and happens to love Friend A’s style of music, they can connect them. Or if Friend A is visiting a new city and looking for people to meet with in town, they can connect them with Friends B-H because they know several people there, and they know exactly how they can help one another. Connectors are extremely valuable, because they seem to know everyone, and are always more than happy to make introductions.

If you can become a Connector, even on a much smaller scale, you will find that not only does your network begin to grow, but people begin to trust you more. There’s a certain amount of respect that comes with being able to connect people.

So as you’re going through your SXSW connections, think about if any of them should meet. Even if they don’t ask for the introduction, if you feel strongly the two can help each other, or will hit it off, set up an email intro.

Make a spreadsheet

Ok, so this one is a little nerdy, but it’s really effective! You’re going to meet a lot of people at SXSW, and at other conferences and events as well, and one really fun way to keep track of everyone (and utilize your abilities as a connector) is to create a simple spreadsheet of your connections. Their name, what city they live in, what they do, and perhaps even their strengths and needs.

That way, not only will you be able to quickly find people in certain cities for the next time you visit, but you’ll be able to reference the sheet if you (or a fellow industry member) are looking for a specific skill. On the flip side, if you notice someone on your spreadsheet has a few needs that another can fill, make an intro happen!

Keep in touch via social media

At the end of the day, we tend to live on social media. It’s where we post the things that matter most to us, and that makes it the perfect place to bond with new connections. Email is a great way to start the conversation, and possibly even continue it when you’re talking strictly business, but when you want to get to know someone on a more personal level, and connect with them over the things that make them tick, following them on social media is one of the best methods.

By following the people you connected with at SXSW on Twitter and Instagram, it gives you the option to keep in touch in a casual way, while offering the opportunity to further strengthen your bond and common interests.

For instance, when they post that photo of their cat, now you have a chance to tell them how adorable it is, or if they post that they’re looking for a great Mexican restaurant in a new city, you can chime in with a suggestion. These may seem like small acts, but they’re exactly the kind of thing that begin to create a lasting impression, and build positive relationships. It truly is the little things that count when building relationships.

SXSW is all about seizing the day with incredible opportunities to connect and meet other like-minded people who are just as excited about the music scene and building their career as you are. So have fun at SXSW, but don’t forget that when it’s over, the networking isn’t done—it’s just beginning—and that’s pretty exciting!

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.

How to Successfully Build Relationships in the Music Industry

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


When you first entered the music industry, you may have expected that your talents would be enough to carry you. While talent is an important part of creating a lasting career, there’s another piece that’s just as, if not more, important: who you know. While some might find that unfair or daunting, I see it as an incredible opportunity to build connection and opportunities based off friendships and human connection.

The key to relationship building, is to treat it as you would any other relationship or friendship. This means giving more than you get, learning to listen, and respecting boundaries. It also means being completely genuine in your approach. If you go into it with a clear agenda of “here’s what Person A can do for me”, and view them only as a means to an end, they’ll see right through it, and you’ll almost certainly alienate them and hinder your chances at a fruitful interaction.

So, where do you start when it comes to relationship building, and how do you build these connections in an honest, productive way?

Make your own opportunities

The first thing I want to mention is that if something isn’t going your way, if you can’t find the solution you’re looking for, it’s ok (encouraged even) to create your own. This means if there’s not a show for you to jump on because you’re a brand new artist that no one is willing to take a chance on, organize your own and use it as an opportunity to get to know other emerging bands. If you want to tour but you’re waiting for a major label to scoop you up and pay for it, stop waiting, start saving money, and begin routing your tour to make it happen yourself.

The music industry is a beautiful place, but it is also complicated, messy, and at times chaotic, so if you want something that doesn’t already exist, sometimes you just have to figure out a way to make it happen yourself.

Oftentimes, it’s these acts of self-reliance that end up leading to the most memorable, significant moments and connections.

Attend conferences

Conferences are a wonderful place to network. If you know there’s a certain person you want to meet while there, the best way to get in front of them is to plan ahead. Have an idea of who you want to meet, what you want to accomplish, and how you’ll go about it well before you actually get to the conference. If you can, try to set up the meeting via email before you arrive.

Either way, it’s best to have your approach solidified beforehand. Then, get to know the person via past interviews, social media, etc, and see what makes them tick. By approaching them and introducing yourself, then bringing up something that interests them vs just talking about what they can do for you, you’ll capture (and keep!) their attention much longer.

Bonus tip: I also recommend attending as many smaller conferences as possible, rather than just sticking to the larger ones. While there’s a lot of value in giant festivals like SXSW, attending some of the smaller ones (Launch Music Conference, for instance) allows you to be in the same room as the same few hundred people for several days in a row, making it much easier to connect with both other attendees and panelists. The more you see someone, the more natural small talk becomes. As a bonus, small conferences are also a lot cheaper to attend!

Utilize social media

Is there anything more convenient for the introverted musician than social media? It’s the perfect way to get in front of new people and build relationships, without ever having to leave the house.

While some of the simpler tactics apply here—follow people you want to get to know on social media, interact with their posts with comments, etc, are valid, I want to introduce you to one of my absolute favorite ways to network online, and that is through Facebook Groups.

There are no doubt tons of options depending on your genre/city and a quick search can bring them up, but a few of my favorites for supportive, helpful discussion and support across all genres and cities, incorporating advice from musicians and industry professionals alike are the Music Launch Hub, Rock/Star Collective, and for ladies only Music Biz Besties and GBTRS.

Join these groups, introduce yourself, and then take a few minutes each day to peruse the groups that resonate most with you and see where you can chime in. Is someone asking a question that you know the answer to? Are they asking for advice that you could be helpful on? This is a great opportunity to employ that “give more than you take” strategy I mentioned earlier. The more people see your name pop up in a group, offering helpful, informative advice, the more they’ll begin to think of you as someone trustworthy, knowledgeable and yes, worth checking out/following.

By being a constant presence in these groups, you’ll begin to find a new group of followers and supporters to help you navigate and grow your career. Not to mention, you’ll come across some truly profound advice for advancing your career!  

Get involved with your local scene

One of the best ways to really get in front of people is to take advantage of your local scene. Go to shows, talk to the other bands, get to know the people in the audience, and you’ll start to develop a sense of community.

Many times, the same people will attend the same shows (i.e. the same crowd goes to the Tuesday open mic) so the more you show up, the more familiar faces you’ll see, and just like I mentioned with Facebook groups above, the more people begin to trust and recognize you, and the more embedded in the community you become. This means you get invited to more shows, events, and opportunities.

Likewise, if your city has a meet up, get out there and attend it! Face to face interaction is still one of the absolute best ways to make a strong impression and build relationships. There’s a variety of meet ups all over the place, but one that I’ve been deeply involved in and has chapters across North America is called Balanced Breakfast. With active chapters currently in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin, and more, there’s probably one in your city—you can check event listings here.

But if there’s not? Start your own meetup! It doesn’t have to be huge, even just a few interested people meeting regularly to talk shop about the music industry and support one another is enough to begin building a strong foundation. Trust me, before long you’ll see that meet up grow, and with it, your network.

Ask for an introduction

Is there someone you’d love to talk to, but just can’t seem to get a response from? The music industry is relatively small, so if you don’t have a personal connection to the person you want to get in front of, and you’ve done your due diligence thus far with relationship building, odds are you know someone who can do that intro for you.

Don’t abuse this by constantly asking for intros, but trust that an email intro from a mutual acquaintance is far more likely to get a response than a cold email from someone they don’t know.

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.

Early Music Marketing Tips For Indie Artists

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Janelle Rogers.]


You’ve probably heard all the standard things on how to promote your band. This may include ideas like ‘play more live shows’, ‘go on tour’, ‘post on social media’, ‘invite all your friends on Facebook’, ‘have a release show’, ‘get covered on blogs’, or ‘get radio airplay’. Some may even tell you to buy ‘likes’ or streams, (which I never advise).

Rather than tell you all the ideas you’ve heard ad nauseum, we’re going to move outside the proverbial box into areas that aren’t as obvious. Below are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Regularly Engage on Social Media with People You Admire

This is social media with a spin. You probably know by now to post your single release or upcoming show. But what if you don’t see any engagement with your following outside of a like or two from the same few fans?

If you’ve hit a plateau where you aren’t moving beyond your existing fan base, you should start looking at how you can begin expanding your following through less traditional means. How much are you engaging with the people you admire? This can be as simple as a local venue or band, or as big as your favorite blog, writer or national record label.

By posting insightful and supportive comments you have the opportunity to engage others who are interested in hearing what you’re about.  Engagement is a two-way street and if you are simply posting about your band without engaging with anyone else, you’ll only make it so far. By engaging with people you admire, you’ll have an opportunity to build a relationship with someone who wouldn’t normally be accessible to you.

2. Create a Spotify Playlist

A lot of bands come to us because they are interested in having us pitch curators for inclusion Spotify playlists. Curators are often looking at your social media engagement, band accomplishments, and how engaged you are on the Spotify platform.

If you’re lacking in any of these department, you can start by creating your own playlist to include your song as well as other bands you admire. The added benefit is that it gives you an opportunity to engage with those bands as mentioned above while showing your support for them.

3. Go to Live Shows in Your Market

The common advice is simply to ‘play more live shows.’ What if you’re struggling to be booked in the first place or you simply don’t have a following for a booker to consider you? In addition to playing live shows you should also look at how you can support the shows in the market.

This gives you the chance to get to know the booker person-to-person and also network with other bands while showing your support. If you want to be considered for shows, you need to look at how you can build the relationships to be asked when the opportunities come up.

4. Stay in Contact Once You’ve Built Relationships

Once you’ve begun building these relationships, the worst thing you can do is to let them go. You shouldn’t just build the relationship until you get what you want, whether it’s getting your song on a Spotify playlist, getting booked for a show, or being covered by a blog.

A great relationship isn’t built when you only come around when you want something. Create a schedule for yourself to stay in touch if you struggle with staying on top of relationships.

You may have noticed all four tips were based on community, giving back and networking. You may see success without one of these elements, but the chances of establishing ‘staying power’ are slim. If you really want to move forward and reach a larger audience, employ all four and see where it takes you.

Janelle Rogers is the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.

Industry Navigation Tools for Songwriters

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by TuneCore Artist Skela. Enjoy her tips to better network, collaborate, and engage was an independent songwriter in the music industry!]

You have to work very, very hard for a just a little bit of luck in the music industry. There are so many beautifully talented artists in this world, and it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by the idea of being one small fish in what feels like many oceans. Instead of being intimidated or striking up ugly green competition with your counterparts, use the multitude of likeminded artists around you to your advantage.

Songwriters are special creatures. We are spectators, empathetic beings, and constantly translating emotion onto paper. You may not know it yet, but one of your greatest strengths can be the ability to connect with others.

So do it.

Interact with the musicians around you. You may have written your best song alone in your bedroom, but it’s about more than that. Creating a long lasting career takes a village – or, people who support one another. Here are a few navigation tips I wish I knew in the beginning of my career:

1. There is no way of knowing who is going to be plucked from the bucket next.

Don’t cling to the cool kids. Don’t pursue people that you think are going to be the next big thing. Find the artists whose work you admire and connect with them. If you vibe with someone’s music, there’s a good chance you’re going to work well with them. Find your people, not your posse.

2. Go to your friends’ performances.

This seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don’t show up and support their music making peers. It’s important to show face because there is going to come a time where you need heads in a room and the favor returned. Also, buying tickets to concerts is what makes the industry go round. Most importantly, seeing someone in their element live is inspiring and always an opportunity to learn something new!

3. Never, ever stop writing.

If you’re going to be “something” in this world, then be the best damn “something” there is. If you’re going to call yourself a songwriter, then make sure you have an arsenal of material ready to work at any given time. You never know what session you might be asked to hop in on. Make sure you have it together so you don’t miss any opportunities to work with people.

4. Don’t burn bridges.

Again, you never know who is going to make it next in this industry. There is no foreseeable timeline attached to musicians so don’t write them off just because they’re not growing parallel to you. There’s a way to speak to people and a way to end relationships amicably. Lead a relationship by good example and leave the future open not barbed with past fallouts.

5. Speak up!

Just because you’re not a producer doesn’t mean that you should sit next to a producer in the studio silent. No one knows the sound you’re after better than you do. You might not know the technical aspect of how to create the palette and structure of a song, but you should know what it takes and be able to find the appropriate references and language in order to properly articulate your vision.

I know that working with producers can be intimidating. When I first started working with producers, I was just so grateful to be working with anyone at all that I nodded my head in agreement to almost everything. If you know what you want, don’t be afraid to speak up. The sooner the better, trust me.

6. When you know, you know.

Don’t force relationships. They should come naturally. It’s impossible to have a strong connection with every musician you meet. Take the session, try it out, and if it doesn’t work, both parties are going to feel something is off. Maximize your time by listening to your instincts when it comes to producers, songwriters and instrumentalists.

7. There is no such thing as an overnight success.

It is so easy to be jealous of others who are finding success in the music industry, but know that the people who are excelling probably worked extremely hard for their bite. It doesn’t come easy or without struggle. If one of your friends is finding success, it means that you’re surrounded by the right people. It’s a good thing when another musician starts to make traction. Your time will come because there is no expiration date if you don’t give up.

How Open Mics Can Open Doors in Your Local Music Scene

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Mason Hoberg. Mason is a freelance writer who covers music-related topics and is a regular contributor to Equipboard.]


A hard truth of the world is that it’s never what you know. Rather, it’s almost always who you know. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, or how much time you’ve put into honing your writing or performing talents. If you can’t make valuable connections in your local music scene, odds are you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time in making any significant process in your career as a musician.

With that being said, there are a variety of different ways that you can open doors for yourself. This article is going to focus on open mics, and since this is the exclusive focus of the article we can get into the nitty gritty of how you can use them to help start your career as a musician.

1. Friends Talk To Friends Talk to Friends (Etc.)

If you’re looking for a talented musician, who are the first people you’re going to ask? Odds are, most of you are going to talk to friends who either are musicians or who are in contact with people in the local music scene.

Now believe it or not, the best way to take advantage of this, (aside from showing up and playing at least competently, obviously), is to always be professional and kind to those around you. Just about any band in the world would rather have a nice and dependable member than one who’s a jerk and causes the band problems.

Never talk down to your fellow performers, and for the love of God, don’t heckle. If you’re a musician who heckles your peers, get up right now and go look in a mirror. And then smash your face into it. The scars you gain from doing so will definitely add an element of mystique to your next performance. (Note: TuneCore is not liable for any heckler who smashes his/her face into a mirror. Even if it is kind of funny).

2. Networking With Other Musicians

While word of mouth is a powerful ally, it’s just as important to actually make connections with your fellow musicians. Imagine this scenario: You’re looking for a place to play gigs and you see a local gigging musician at an open mic night (which believe it or not, a lot of them do actually show up there to work on new songs or just to stay in practice with performing). You two get to talking and you mention that you’ve been having a hard time finding gigs, and then you ask if he/she would be able to recommend any venue owners who are pleasant to work with. Now you have a focused list of venue owners who host live music, and an idea of how it is to work with them. You can also ask about how the crowds were in different venues throughout town, giving you an idea as to which venues you should work on based on your genre.

While doing this once is helpful, doing it a dozen times is probably going to give you a pretty comprehensive list of the venues in the area, the type of music that works best in them, and how these venue owners treat their musicians. This is incredibly valuable information to have, because one of the most important parts of putting on a good show is finding a venue that works well for your music.

3. It Shows You What Type Of Music Is Best Received In The Area

Something many musicians don’t think about is how their audiences are going to react to the music they play, and not in regards to its quality. Rather, what is the demographic of listeners in your area like? Do they prefer metal? Soft acoustic music? Country? Folk? Do you have an idea of what these percentages are like?

While open mics are going to give you pretty skewed results due to the fact that most of the people who attend are likely to be more interested in acoustic music, odds are the overall reactions are still going to be at least somewhat representative. For example, if the crowd present likes Garth Brooks covers odds are that there will at least be some venues in town where country is well received.

Likewise, if the crowd loses their mind over a particularly inspired “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” cover for example, you can be pretty sure that there will be areas where Green Day will go over well.

4. You Get To Learn A Variety Of Approaches To Working A Crowd

Working a crowd is an art, and just like any other art there are a variety of different ways to approach it. Learning to time jokes well, figuring out how to introduce a song, and learning how to build a set-list are all fundamental skills for a musician.

While practice is important, so is being exposed to a variety of different approaches. You always want to be learning and trying new things, and there’s no better way to think up a new approach than to see what others are doing. Odds are they’ll do at least one thing that you never do that goes over well, and if they happen to be really bad at working a crowd, you get a few lessons in what not to do.

Wrapping It All Up

Being a musician requires a collection of several different skills, and open mics are a good place to hone them – aside from being an awesome place to make the connections that you’ll need to advance your career. They’re not always pretty, and the musicians who attend them may not always be the most pleasant to listen to, but there are a variety of things to learn and a huge population of musicians to network with.