[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
Can you feel the impending chaos?
With SXSW right around the corner, most of us will find ourselves frantically trying to align our schedules to see friends from out of town, catch all the incredible performances and informative panels, and of course, find (and eat!) the best BBQ and tacos.
While a little bit of chaos is undeniably part of the ritual of SXSW, there is a way to make the week fun, informative, and ever so slightly more organized so that you can make the most of your time.
1. Prepare ahead of time
There’s a lot of ways to prepare for SXSW. First, you’ll want to bring plenty of water and snacks (there won’t always be time to stop and get a proper meal between events). Next, you want to be sure you have a rough idea of what it is you want to see and when. The reality is this is going to change a lot when you get there, but if you know you for sure want to see a certain artist or panel, write it down, and put it in your calendar.
You will be pulled in 100 directions once you’re there, so this can be key to making sure you don’t miss those must-see events.
Next, SXSW has a couple ways to get you pumped for the festival, including a YouTube playlist with showcasing artists, a music bloggers guide (this is something I wish I’d had when I went!) and they’ve even launched SXSW FM, the official radio station of SXSW, with a 24 hour streaming cycle featuring artists of all genres from across the world. There are weekly specialty shows that feature showcasing artists as well as new announcements.
All artists on the shows are past or upcoming SXSW artists, but if you fall into that category, you might even be chosen to play, so don’t be shy about submitting!
2. Get Unofficial
While there are tons of incredible official events to be a part of, there’s just as much action happening in the wave of unofficial showcases, panels, and events around the city of Austin during SXSW. By making time for a few off the beaten path experiences, as well as the official ones you’ll be sure to network with people who came to the festival but maybe didn’t have an official pass—expanding your networking opportunities as well as adding a bit of variety to your days.
3. Use the buddy system
There is SO much happening at SXSW at any given moment, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. My suggestion? Pair up with a couple friends that have spent some time at SXSW and who you trust to be on the pulse of emerging acts/panels/events, and let them take the lead. Or, if this sounds like you, be that person for someone else!
My first year at SXSW would have been completely different if I hadn’t been with friends who had spent the last 5+ years there and knew which events were must-see and which we could skip. They not only took me to the best shows and panels, but they found me the best (and sometimes free!) food, knick-knacks, and networking events.
4. Allow for some down time
This might be the toughest piece of advice to follow, but just as important as taking in all SXSW has to offer is allowing yourself a little R&R. Get enough sleep, eat well, hydrate, and don’t be afraid to say “no” to the things that you aren’t all that crazy about, especially if it means a few extra hours of sleep or something else that you might actually enjoy.
Have fun, stay hydrated, and enjoy!
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.