SXSW 2016: Revisiting First Timers' Experiences

March 10, 2016

Last year on the TuneCore Blog, we reached out to our community of independent artists to find out who was making their first trip to SXSW 2015. We asked what their expectations were and how they planned to make the most of their debut pilgrimage to Austin.

Since we all know it’s easier said than done, TuneCore got back in touch with a few of the artists who were kind enough to share with us in 2015 and find out how their trip was, what they learned and how their plans panned out.

Not only is following up fun, but we hope that this can provide some additional insight for those indie artists heading to SXSW for the first time this year. Got something to share that relates? Let us know in the comment section!

Rebecca Pearl

When we reached out to pop/folk artist Rebecca Pearl last year, she was five months into her residency in Austin, having just moved from New York City.

My trip to SXSW last year was an overall great learning experience, but also a fun-filled musical one. I met so many other musicians, connected and networked, but also learned a ton from the panels they they offered. From sitting in a room with talented producers to chatting with licensing companies who gave you a chance to show them a song or two.

I had a blast and Austin as a music town is hard not to love. I’m coming back again this year to play a few shows during music week and hoping to meet more artists like myself!

Jetty Rae

Folk artist Jetty Rae and her manager Jason weren’t just focused on making the most of Jetty’s performing opportunities, but also soaking up knowledge at panels covering topics like copyright.

One thing we found is that “exclusive” and “VIP” events aren’t always so exclusive or VIP.
We were walking around the festivities and saw what seemed like VIP event after VIP event. Turns out just being a nice person will get you into a lot of places you wouldn’t expect. Chances are the folks at the doors or rear access gates are just as excited and happy to be at SXSW as you. We struck up conversations with a few of them out of a genuine desire to connect, and a few minutes later we were in whatever event you thought was “VIP only”.
The point here isn’t to smooze or flirt, but just to be friendly and approachable. Check your ego at the door and invest in genuine relationships.
For us personally, the highlight of our SXSW experience was finding Mitch Dane following Jetty Rae’s unofficial showcase; he’s now producing Jetty’s next album. Turns out we already knew a lot of the same people; small world!

Hand Job Academy

Brooklyn hip hop crew Hand Job Academy had the right idea: turn up for their showcase, catch some old favorites, discover some new favorites, and nerd out at the panels (oh, and of course tacos). What they found were opportunities:

“We had an awesome time playing our showcase–it led to a lot of opportunities, like being flown to Chicago to play a hacker convention!

Claire had a run-in with a seltzer bottle at the Whole Foods (so punk rock) and ended up going to the ER; it was probably the only glass bottle accident at SXSW that did NOT involve alcohol.

We played a couple of unofficial shows with the homie Big Dipper, Meg debuted a couple of solo tracks, and Ash met a fellow artist on our showcase that ended up becoming a serious love connection! Looking forward to whatever 2016 holds.”

Social Club

When asked how they’d planned on getting the most out of their first SXSW trip, hip hop duo Social Club informed us they planned ahead by setting up lunches and meetings well in advance!

Every artist needs to attend SXSW at least once in their career. When you’re there make the most of it.

Take as many classes as you can, be as humble as you can, and network with as many people as possible.


Pop duo Marineros had big plans to play shows and connect with their peers in 2015. They were not disappointed and walked away learning a ton:

“Our SXSW experience was so much fun – running around Austin checking out bands and performers from all over the world, and playing our own music.

We learned so much in just a week, about ourselves and the way to approach our live sets. Plus, the atmosphere is amazing. You feel the thrill and impact of live music throughout the whole city.”

Tags: Austin DIY featuring hand job academy indie jetty rae marineros rebecca perl social club SXSW sxsw 2016 tunecore